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Thread: {AdvanceShipping} PKM Rangers: Rise of the Dark Gems {R}

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    Default {AdvanceShipping} PKM Rangers: Rise of the Dark Gems {R}

    Original thread can be found here.

    It is my pleasure to redo this story for you, as I felt the original version was lacking in...how shall I put this..."good writing." I have decided to expand on the original, and recreate the storyline. This story is rated R, for sexual diologue, alcohol, violence, language, and all the things you normally wish were in Power Rangers. This is a Power Rangers/AdvanceShipping story, so if any one of those offends you, do not look at this story, and do not rate this story, unless you are going to give it an honest opinion. I cannot stress that enough.

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


    Soundtrack:
    Morph One-Nicklbeack- Rockstar
    Morph Two-My Chemical Romance- Famous Last Words
    Morph Three-Bowling for Soup- High School Never Ends
    Morph Four-0's Theme: Linkin Park- What I've Done
    Morph Five-Tenacious D- Tribute

    PKM Rangers: Rise of the Dark Gems

    Morph One- Ground Zero: The Dark Man with the Pikachu Emerges!

    The dark man walked towards the towering building, his face shrouded in shadows. No one stopped him, no one asked directions, no one interfered in the least as he walked forward, interested only in the convention center in front of him, his dark, glazed attention firmly fixed on the giant double-doors before him. Hands in his pockets, he slugged forward, his shoulders shifting from side to side as he swayed. He barely noticed the other creature standing on his shoulder, a quiet yellow mouse about the size of a basketball that took in the center through its beady little eyes, its nose taking in the scents of the venders and the wafers inside. The man didn’t notice, and pulled one gloved hand out of his pocket, slamming his palm against the clear glass door, and hot air blasted at him, an alteration from the cold, crisp air of the January morning. Shrugging off the new heat, the man walked into the center, the door falling back after him as he relieved the tension that his hand exerted, and placed his hand back in the pockets of his dark pants.

    It had been a while since he had stopped traveling, since he had stopped his journeys and explorations with his friends. He had pursued a different goal in life than Max or Brock. He had found another path, separate from Misty or Tracey. They had all done what they had wanted with their lives, and were still doing it. Hikari, after all, hadn’t fallen from light. She was a coordinator now, like another, certain someone that the dark man knew. It had been a while since he had seen Brock, Max, even Gary. It had been a while since he had been home, or even had a place to call home. He was on a “break.” A break that had been standing for about two years now, without showing signs of stopping. But he didn’t know if he wanted it to stop, because even if he did, nothing could be done. For a long while now, his only friend was the one sitting on his shoulder, looking through the vast crowd of people that was swooning around, searching for any signs of the dark man’s old friends.

    The young man hadn’t changed much since the old days, when he had been excited, an eager trainer waiting to make his mark in the world, to become the greatest Pokemon Master ever born. Except that he wasn’t the greatest Pokemon Master ever born. Drawing influence on the dark man’s personality, his clothes would not have been out of place in an otaku conference. He had ditched the hat, first of all, tired of the trademarked look. His hair was now free, and mostly unkempt, several times its original mass, though it still stuck up like it used to in the old days. Most of it was tied in a shocked-like ponytail, which served no purpose other than to direct the unkempt hair in the correct direction. Instead of the hood and the nice shirts he had worn in the days past, a plain yellow t-shirt fluttered around his stomach with each step. The pants were black and baggy, rather than dark blue and neat, but beneath them steel-toed combat boots clunked against the polished floors he walked on.

    There really wasn’t anything interesting about him. He was above-average in height, a few inches above six feet. The baggy outfit the man wore concealed the broad and powerful muscles he had, and did exactly as it was designed to do, hide his physique. A chain jingled along his neck, made of what appeared to be either silver or stainless steel, connected by interlocking links. At the end of the chain hung a simple symbol, a ring crafted out of gold that might have fit on his fourth finger, had he worn it there. The man glanced down at it, and took a deep breath. After all this time, he still felt the brutal sting of what the ring symbolized. But what did he expect, to wake up one day and the pain wouldn’t be there?

    “Damn,” his muttered, looking up once more from the ring. He felt it hit his chest every time he moved, the pain was stronger here, in this place. He looked around, watching the people, knowing that he shouldn’t, but secretly hoped, that he would see her again. It wasn’t as though he didn’t have some form of contact with her, he did, after all, have to send the check to her every single week, his precious money which, by order of law, he was required to pay, handing her money which paid for someone he wasn’t even allowed to see. He almost, but not quite, chuckled at the irony of how his money was used. Sometimes that was just the thing about life, in that it could sometimes kill you with stupid irony.

    The mouse riding atop his shoulder, the electric type, looked at him with its beady eyes. His eternal companion, its red cheeks sparked as it checked him out, making sure that its trainer was alright. At the same time, its small, long ears perked, listening in for something, or someone. Its tail, shaped like a powerful lightning bolt, stuck out from the back of the man’s head, or, at least, it looked that way if you were on the right side of the man. It too, was older, but it still held the spark that the dark man had forgotten.

    The man looked around, then sighed again. “So, where is she?” he muttered, looking up at the atrium’s main arch. He had been walking down it, the atrium was just one of many entrances to the center, heading towards the battle arenas. A sign was draped over the atrium’s exit, proclaiming Saffron City Pokemon Contest- Invitation Only in bright purple lettering. The mouse on his shoulder issued a squeak with an eager “Pika!” The man just shook his head, and scratched his chin with one dark gloved hand. “Well, I hope she brought Sarah. You shouldn’t leave a little girl at home alone.” Picking up his feet once more, he made his way through the columned atrium’s exit, and entered the convention center’s main battle arena section.

    At once, the moment he left the comparatively quiet area of the atrium, bright lights issued from all round him, colors swirling in front of him. He could see everything: people fleeing across the floors in search of food, circles of spectators watching as below them, contests were being won and lost, thanks to some ingenious design in the center’s layout that had battles below, with glass ceilings above where the spectators watched, allowing for more focus, as the combatants couldn’t hear the cheers or boos their performance generated. The dark man passed over the battles, mostly ignoring them, as he headed for the registration booths to pick up an identification badge. There are way too many people here. The man yawned at the thought, he was getting bored already. Sighting the booths over on the other side of the center, amidst a sea of people standing in line waiting for them, so that they too might partake of the festivities and watch the matches. Making his way over to the area, the dark man turned to the yellow rodent. “Are you sure she’ll be here, Pikachu?” he asked.

    As the dark man blatantly ignored the long line to retrieve an all-access badge, and headed straight up to the receptionists, the mouse nodded. “Pi!” it squeaked, confirming exactly what the man had said. Its eyes were scanning the floors below, the contest matches that were taking place, in search for her, or any other familiar faces in the crowds. The man knew she would be here, of course, since she was one of the top coordinators from Hoenn, but he really didn’t want to catch her at an inopportune time. There was also a good chance that the others were here, supporting her. He didn’t want to see them, exactly, as he hadn’t parted on good terms with them. After all, he was the one who had caused the demise of the relationship, not the other way around, and his former friends could never understand his point of view.

    The people waiting in line didn’t seem to take his point of view either, as a few of them were shouting at him for barging to the front of the line. As the man turned to the receptionist, a young redhead girl, he felt a strong poke jab him straight in the back. Annoyed, but not tempted to violence, the man bent his head to the girl, leaning onto the tall blue counter set up in front of her. “Reservation,” he muttered, pulling out a scrap of paper from his pants pocket, and handing the folded sheet to her. “An all-access pass, please.” The girl took it from him, and smiled at him with her emerald eyes.

    “Just one moment,” she answered, looking down to her computer terminal. The man nodded, and felt another sharp jab, this one to his lower back, followed by a vehement exclamation demanding to know exactly what the man thought he was doing and who he thought he was. If the nerd who was hitting him got any lower, the man silently decided that he would deck whoever was behind him. Fortunately, when the receptionist said to wait a moment, she really meant it, something very rare in the man’s experience. “Here you go,” she answered, handing the man a small, clip-on badge in the shape of a rectangle with a famous coordinator on it smiling at him. The man took it without looking and placed it into his pocket for later attachment.

    “Thanks,” the man grumbled, before turning around to see the offending person who had had the audacity to touch him. A tall, Goth boy, with pale face paint over his skin, with dyed raven hair was looking directly at him, a slight snarl embedded on his black lips. The dark man was unmoved. “What do you want?”

    The Goth seemed angered about something. “I want to know why you think you can skip clear to the head of the line without waiting like the rest of us,” he demanded, his various chains jiggling all over his dark attire as he shook his fist at the dark man. “What makes you better than us?” The crowd chorused its agreement.

    The man considered answering them, but decided against it. Instead, he turned towards the mouse riding on his shoulder. “Want to get something to drink? I‘m thirsty.” he asked it, deliberately dodging the question the Goth had so kindly wanted him to answer. The mouse nodded, issuing one squeaking “Pi!” The dark man nodded, and began to scan the surroundings for the nearest drinking establishment. One caught his attention, a bar made up in the theme of a Orre cantina, that he liked the look of. The double doors were open, so he started walking forward, leaving the line without another word. What is this, a nerd convention? I would think she would have a better rep. He decided against asking anyone, including himself, the answer to that question, considering that he himself game here every year, so that would make him one of the “nerds” that frequented these kinds of events.

    “When’s our first match?” the dark man muttered, shifting his face to look at Pikachu. The little mouse shook its even smaller shoulders, and gave out a long stream of squeaks and murmurs, all of which either used the whole or part of the word “Pikachu.” The man nodded. “I’ll consult the chart later, they said I wouldn’t start until tomorrow anyway.” Both trainer and Pokemon made their way through the public, the man making sure that he didn’t draw any attention. He didn’t want anyone to recognize him, that was the precise reason that he had grown out his hair and changed his clothes from the ones commonly associated with him. He preferred privacy, one of the main reasons he kept such small contact with other people, and why he dressed himself differently. He didn’t want the paparazzi after him, the media hounds that had ruined his life once. It had taken an entire year to ditch them. Now, he blended into the crowd, another passing, forgettable face.

    The dark man pushed open the revolving doors to the bar, and took in the scent of cheap booze and drunks. This was one of his safe havens, a place that he go could to without being hounded, where he could enjoy the simpler things of life, and for a few hours, just forget about his problems. The atmosphere was hazy, the reek of tobacco beckoning him from all over, swirls of smoke tracing the wooden ceiling above him. The TV was muted, but turned onto some coverage channel, most likely one of the matches that was going on. Twenty people were assembled in the dank bar, not counting the bartender, all of them staring into their bottles of hooch, or at the screen, where a Blaziken was blasting an Aipom with a Blaze Kick, followed by a Sky Uppercut. The man ignored the drunks, who all seemed to be slewing in some sort of misery. He had his own problems, so he didn’t engage any of them in conversation, as they could get the impression he cared. He heaved himself forward, and took a solitary seat on one of the barstools in front of the bartender. Pikachu, mimicking its trainer, hopped off its perch, and settled down on the table in a laid-down position.

    The man opened his mouth. “Give me the strongest beer you got,” he grunted, looking up at the bartender. “Now.” The man placed a hand in his pockets, drawing forth a few bills and his access badge. The bartender took them up, and peered over the information, studying the dark man’s face. When he was satisfied, the bartender handed the badge back to the man, and took the money.

    The bartender, a grubby looking man with an eye patch over the left side of his face, nodded his head, pushing back the blond locks of his hair. “Coming right up,” he answered politely, but with a slight growl. The dark man nodded, and the barkeep walked towards the old fashioned register next to the taps, ringing up the sale, and collecting the change from the tin. The bartender grabbed a mug from under the counter, and took out the strongest tap he had. Pressing down on the button attached to the nozzle, a steady stream of dark beer poured into the cup. The keep tilted the mug, the foam falling out onto the floor as the container was filled. When the mug was full, the bartender raised his other arm and coughed hard, making sure to keep it away from the drink. The bartender then placed the drink down onto the shiny surface of the counter, and shoved it down towards the dark man, who caught it without glancing at the keep.

    “Here’s your change,” the one-eyed man muttered, handing back a few coins to the other, who just took them in his gloved hand and pocketed them. The man stared at the drink, while the bartender reached into his pocket to obtain the pack of smokes he kept in his pants, along with a small lighter with the image of a naked woman embossed on the surface. He opened the pack and grabbed one of the slim joints, shoving it into his yellowed, stained mouth, placing the pack back into his pocket and lighting the smoke with the flames from his lighter. Putting the lighter back, the bartender took a deep drag from the cigarette, before removing it from his mouth to blow more of the carbon monoxide-creating haze into the air.

    The dark man looked up to the bartender, who appeared to be immensely enjoying the burning joint, and made a slight face of disgust with his mouth. “You know, that’s bad for you,” he said with a solemn voice, before raising the tankard of beer to his lips. As the bartender watched, the man took a deep draught from the mug, emptying about a fourth of the contents into his mouth. He stopped to let the alcohol take its natural course, as drinking too much at once was a hazard, and set the tankard down.

    The bartender laughed. “Yeah, the alcoholic tell the smoker that what he does is bad,” he coughed. The dark man joined in, chuckling at the irony with him. “What I do to myself ain’t much worse then what you do to yourself, ya know.”

    The dark man nodded. “I’m not an alcoholic, buddy,” he replied, raising the glass once more. “I just like the taste is all.” The barkeep chortled, as the man made about half the contents of the tankard’s original amount of liquid vanish mysteriously into his stomach. “Hey, you want some, Pikachu?” The mouse looked up, but shook its head. “Give my friend here a glass of milk.” At this, the rodent nodded vigorously. The bartender just sighed, but got out a platter of milk for the Pokemon. Pikachu gave out an almighty squeak of thanks to its trainer, before it shoved its face into the drink and inhaled. The dark trainer fished out another few bucks, and passed them to the barkeep. “So, what’s going on there?” he asked, pointing towards the television in the corner. The Blaziken had defeated the Aipom, and a play-by-play of the last move was being displayed, along with the scores.

    The barkeep shook his head in confusion. “Don’t ya know who that is?” he asked, pointing a finger at the screen. “That’s the girl who’s gotten the most bets placed on her. She’s the favorite to win this year’s Contest.” The dark trainer grunted in acknowledgment, as a new picture came on the screen, displaying the girl in question. “The Contest started today, with the semifinals and finals taking place tomorrow. This kind of event is pretty good for me, ‘cause most people come here ta drown their sorrows after losing in some booze.”

    The man wasn’t paying attention to what the bartender was saying, focusing his attention on the woman in the picture, who was waving energetically and smiling. Her soft auburn hair fell down, slightly obscuring the azure eyes that were sparkling with triumph. She had grown out her hair, he noticed, since he had last seen her.

    The dark man finished the glass, draining every last drop down his throat. “I suppose you are right,” he muttered, staring through the empty bottom of the mug. “I’m one of the contestants, and it ain’t exactly a peachy day for me either.” The man looked down at the badge he had taken from the registration booth, and groaned aloud. The coordinator he had just seen on the TV stared back at him, her face fixed into a smiling grin, with two fingers sticking out of her fist, making the bunny signal.
    ***
    “Unnnnnccccle Maaaaaax!”

    Deep, deep down, Max Birch loved his niece. Honest to goodness he did. He had been there when she was born, and had personally overseen her childhood with May for two years. He was perfectly willing to do whatever he could to protect her, and would do almost anything for her. This did not, however, change the fact that he would have done practically anything to avoid guard duty when May was off doing a match in the Contest.

    Sarah Birch, the single most energetic girl that Max had ever met, gripped her uncle’s hand with a strength that didn’t seem to Max normal from a five-year-old. Plowing through the crowd, Max made certain that he didn’t lose track of her, partially because he was a loving and caring uncle, but mostly because of the threat the little girl’s overprotective mother had administered to him prior to heading for her match. Max chuckled sheepishly, keeping an eye on the little girl so that she wouldn’t cause any trouble, one of the single greatest challenges he had ever faced.

    Why May always picked him for guard duty, he never knew, though silently he screamed in exhaustion as Sarah somehow got behind him, and he suddenly felt a slight burden on his shoulders as she leapt up. Max groaned as he felt his eardrums burst, Sarah shouting for a piggyback ride as though he was standing on the opposite side of a battlefield. Already, his dark jade shirt was creasing, and beads of sweat fell from his face. His feet ached, an after-affect from chasing the little girl around. He needed to recuperate. “Hey, think we can sit down for a sec?” he asked, panting vigorously.

    She giggled, grabbing the front of his neck as he tucked her little legs under his arms. “Yee-hah! Go, Uncle Max, go!” she squealed, kicking him hard in the side, like a cowboy spurs a Ponyta. Max reared in shock, but reluctantly neighed for the girl as he lumbered in the direction of the nearest place to sit. He looked around quickly, as he needed a place that would both let him sit and keep Sarah occupied. Deciding that his back was more important than spoiling dinner for Sarah, Max buckled towards an open food court, which seemed to house all sorts of different venders selling stuff. Passing through the crowd, Max panted as he approached one of the booths, and set the girl on his shoulders down onto one side of the table atop the large cushioned seat that spanned the outside of the table. She bounced around happily as Max deposited himself on the other side, panting roughly, and wiping his brow.

    Sarah, easily distracted, looked in the direction of one of the arenas, where someone was losing. It was an exhibition battle, not part of the actual tournament, but the little girl turned towards Max, and smiled. “Is Mommy gonna win?” she asked, her high, assertive voice trailing over all the commotion going on around them. She dropped her head, pooped, onto the table, though her eyes remained trained on her uncle.

    Max grinned, and raised his thumb. “She’d better win, or we’re all gonna be in big, big trouble,” he replied, pushing himself into an upright sitting position. It wasn’t that he didn’t mind babysitting Sarah, it was just that she somehow always managed to make him feel so old. Living with and watching a baby niece was definitely one of those things that could have put grey hairs in Max’s head, though thankfully the dark locks had remained intact since his old journey days. They were a little longer now, and needed occasional brushing out of the eyes, but were otherwise fine. Max still wore glasses, though the style he had now was thinner and narrower than the kinds he had worn as a child. Sighing, he adjusted the lenses, making sure that they were firmly attached to his head. Blindness was not a good thing when watching Sarah. “You want something to eat?” Max looked round the venders, taking stock of what each was selling. “I think one of these guys should have some pizza for ya.”

    Sarah, at the very mention of the word “pizza,” changed, suddenly beginning to drool from her mouth, her foot shaking itself into a frenzy. “Pitza!” she shouted happily, mispronouncing the word as she always did, raising her arms. She hadn’t learned yet how to properly say her favorite food, but she was far too cute when she said it for anyone to correct her. “Pitza!”

    Max chuckled, shaking his head. “Sure thing, kid,” he replied, rising from where he was sitting. He spotted the pizza vender, which wasn’t that far from where they were, only a few feet away. Sarah jumped up from her seat, and followed her uncle, grabbing his larger hand as they went. The vender, a large man, who’s lower face was covered by an unbelievably heavy, thick, auburn moustache. Max thought the man smiled, as the hair inclined upwards at the edges when they approached.

    “Tell him what you want, squirt,” Max said, nudging her forward.

    As Sarah, in rampart detail, explained to the vender exactly what she wanted, Max looked at her, and smiled. He was a lucky guy to have such a cool niece in his life. And she was, of course, May’s daughter, which meant that the dark, almost raven, auburn hair shined in the convention center’s light, glowing with an inner beauty that plenty of guys would be stunned by when she grew up. Sarah, however, unlike her mother, was big on the shopping deal, having inherited the feminine gene from her grandmother that drove crazy women to shop. So she wore designer jeans, even though she was five, with a small yellow shirt that was tucked into her pants. She even had running shoes on her feet. But it was probably the eyes that Max always noticed the most when he saw her. Eyes that could freeze a Charizard in its tracks. Pools of midnight black, which carried a strange combination of fierceness and gentleness.

    They were his, the eyes of the dark warrior, and Max knew well enough not to mention them. Even so much as saying his name near Sarah or May was warrant a death sentence according to his sister. But still, he had left his mark on his daughter, and he never ceased to feel amazed at exactly how intense the gaze was. I wonder if she even knows who her father is. May’s revenge against him, and Max sagged his head in dismay. No matter how much I hate him, no child should be kept away from her father. Sarah looked up to him, and offered a wide smile. Max replied with a grin, and paid the vendor, taking the receipt from the man, and walked back to the booth to wait for the entire, large pizza pie that Sarah had ordered.

    He sighed, staring at the ceiling. Times really have changed since it happened… As Max drifted off, Sarah began to demand attention once more, and it wasn’t until a firm shoe slammed into his knee did Max return to reality, shaking his head. Sarah wanted the pizza, now done, from the vendor. Max chuckled, and nodded, rising to get it. She was such a happy child, for all she had been shielded from by her mother and family.

    “Hey, Max!” The man, caught off guard, failed to notice as he was grabbed roughly in a giant, unbearably painful hug, as he set the pizza down on the table for Sarah. Max grunted in annoyance, though he knew the master of the voice. Brock Harrison squeezed a final time, before releasing Max to recover breath, laughing his head off. Max grinned, turning round to clasp the hands of his fellow Gym leader. He hadn’t known that Brock would be attending, but it was a nice surprise nonetheless.

    “You old dog,” the younger man chuckled, shaking Brock’s hand in welcome. Brock grinned, his fox-eyes nothing more than friendly slits on his face. They hadn’t changed, just like the Brock that Max, May, and little Sarah knew and loved, his personality still bright and optimistic, if slightly more perverted than the old days, as Max could see Brock staring at one of the surrounding women out of the corner of his eyes. Brock’s hair no longer stuck up, though it still gave someone the impression that he had stuck a pin cushion on his head and colored it brown. The spikes were longer, bent at the ends, and held up by a dark blue headband. He seemed to have gotten more tanned since Max had last seen him, and wore a dark brown vest with a navy blue shirt underneath. He wore black cargo pants, and nice, highly polished boots that in themselves qualified as a light source. “It’s been a while, Brock. Good to see you.”

    Brock issued a giant laugh. “Same here, buddy!” he retorted, passing the younger man. “Scoot, squirt.” Sarah cheered, moving hurriedly so that Brock could settle himself down next to her, and he patted her on the head, ruffling her dark auburn hair. “It’s good to see you two here.” He bent towards Sarah, and winked. “Now, have you been behaving for your momma, Sarah?” He pulled out a box of chocolate, a special Kanto delicacy that he gave the little girl every time he saw her.

    The girl nodded, and snatched for the candy, which Brock kept just out of range. “Yes, Uncle Brock!” she squealed back. Chuckling, Brock lowered his hand, and handed her the candy, which she thoroughly inspected before tucking it away in her pants pocket. She then eyed, and began attacking, the pizza, tearing off a slice of the cheese-based product and gobbling it up.

    Max grinned, looking at the exhausted form of Max, who was munching on a slice of his own. “And have you been a good girl for Uncle Max?” he asked.

    “Nope,” the other man muttered, a final pant escaping his lips. Brock and Sarah laughed. “She’s a little demon. Aren’t ya Sarah?” She laughed, and nodded her head.

    Brock, deciding the moment was too good to waste, deepened his voice, taking on the sterner, more adult accent he once used on his own brothers and sisters when they misbehaved. “Sarah,” he lectured, wagging his finger at her, as if he was displeased, “say sorry to Uncle Max.”

    The little girl giggled, and bobbed her head up and down. “Sowwy, Uncle Max,” she chirped sweetly, “I’ll be good from now on!” Brock thanked her, while Max decided they would have better luck figuring out a way to make “from now on” last longer than the hour it usually did.
    ***
    The sounds, the chaos, the unending satisfaction of victory.

    May Birch grinned in triumph, as her favorite Pokemon delivered the finishing blow on the small purple monkey in front of her, smashing its flaming arm in a fierce uppercut, sending the simian flying into the air, smashing its annoying, grinning face on the glass ceiling, with the crowd above cheering as they looked down into the match. Flashing a smile for the camera nearest to her, the young woman’s pearly whites dazzled the audience, the shining azure eyes capable of stopping cars in the street smiling along with her mouth. She raised her hands high, as the judge roared her name.

    “AND THE WIN GOES TO…MAY BIRCH!”

    The crowd above them erupted into echoes of cheers and hoots, fan boys and girls alike chanted her name like crazy. Her opponent, a youth prodigy about half her age, had already recalled his Aipom, and seemed to be fuming as he left, walking towards one of the elevators on his side of the arena to the above floor, where the press would be certain to annoy and harass him on his crushing defeat. She almost wished that she hadn’t beat him. Almost, because she had wanted to win, and no amount of coordinators was going to stand in the way of that. Grinning, she recalled Blaziken, raising the Pokemon’s red and white containment unit, its Pokeball, to shoulder height. She pressed down on the button in the center, and a streak of bright, crimson light erupted from the little orb. The light encompassed the large Pokemon, and reverted it to the same color, before the whole Pokemon vanished into the light, disappearing into the ball with an audible whoosh. Her match completed, May reattached the Pokeball to her belt on a small clip.

    She chuckled to herself. Winning matches like this, completely and utterly dominating her opponents, was one of the few, simple pleasures that she had never denied herself. Brushing the long strands of brown hair from her face, she flashed another smile at the otaku standing above her battlefield, who all shouted in approval above her platform, her blue eyes twinkling at them. Dusting off her hands, May turned round, now that the match was over, and made for the elevators leading up to the upper floors. She passed through a small corridor, before reaching the glass lift. She pressed the button on the side, and the double doors whirled open in response. May stepped through the doors, and hit the button for the main deck, the floor above her.

    The elevator whirled to life, and the doors closed slowly before her, and she felt the small jerk beneath her as she started to rise from the lower level, where the battles took place, and the upper deck, where most of the non-battling activity was going on. Through the glass, she could hear the venders selling their wavers, otaku running around in search of their favorite coordinators, and the various other goings-on common with an event such as this. Though the complex design of the center was made solely to accommodate multiple battles and a different form of spectator viewing. With the battles taking place below them, the viewers were given a different point of observation. Contests were growing in popular culture nowadays, almost on the same par as regular battles. As such, famous coordinators such as herself were normally swamped with incoming fan mail and attacked by paparazzi, not to mention swarmed by fans. May’s fan mail alone could have more than capable of keeping an entire region happily supplied with paper for months. Sometimes this lifestyle gets on my nerves. She sighed, shaking her head, the machine slowing down as she approached her destination. She chuckled, hoping that her brother hadn’t gotten overrun with guard duty, or else she might have trouble finding Max and his charge.

    She was dressed plainly, she thought, looking over herself as she stepped out of the elevator. She didn’t like to think she was beautiful, despite the fact that both Playboy and Penthouse had asked her to pose for their magazines on multiple occasions. She was about five foot seven, with a lithe build and complex that masked her surprising strength. She didn’t exactly like drawing attention to herself, even though every person in the building knew who she was. So she dressed simply, wearing black leather pants, high heel shoes, and a red blouse. She didn’t wear makeup, because she thought it made her look tacky, but her family agreed that she looked stunning with the stuff on. That was all, nothing more. Nothing that would draw attention, except from, of course, her fans…

    She had just exited the elevator when the cry of the average central-Kanto fan boy rang out clear through the crowd. “Hello beautiful!” echoed a nasally voice from within the surging crowd, followed by a giant horde of intense whistling. May groaned inside, as the man who had issued the catcall, a stereotypical otaku, emerged from the crowd. A large beefy man, with more chins that a phone book’s pages, grinned at her with bucked teeth, pointing to the extremely tight shirt he happened to be wearing, which displayed a wider version of her own smiling face, stretched over his tubby pectorals. The man grinned a second time, rubbing a fat hand through his gleaming, greasy black hair. “How you doin’?” he asked, in a deeper, more annoying voice.

    May rolled her eyes. “Here we go again,” she murmured, rubbing the top of her head. “Okay, let’s do this. Which one of you guys to I have to beat up for everyone to stop bothering me?” She turned to face the gathering of sweaty nerds, or, in particular, the sweaty nerd who had catcalled her, and cracked the knuckles on both her hands. She knew exactly how to deal with annoying fans: beat them up.

    The otaku who had spoken to her, obviously the leader of the gaggle of nerds, stood tall in the face of her demand, walking boldly towards her, his massive hips swaying with his hands. His nostrils flared, and his cheeks turned a deep scarlet, his heart thudding in his chest so loud that everyone could hear, though that was mostly due to his clogged arteries. “Come on, baby, don’t be like that,” he swooned, his disfigured teeth grinning. “I mean, I’m sure that a nice, lovely woman like yourself needs some…manly comforts now and than. And considering as you don’t have a man no more, and you haven’t for the past couple years, I decided it would be a good idea to extend to you an invite into my pants. You look like you need some loving anyway.”

    May’s hand curled up into a fist. “You’re just begging me to beat you down, aren’t you?” she asked calmly, though her flushed face displayed that inside she was beginning to burn with rage.

    The otaku raised his hands. “Hey, Miss, I was just saying that I’d be better than that chump of an ex-husband of yours. What was his name again? Ketchum?” The otaku would later come to regret the decision to bring May’s ex into the conversation.

    May flashed white with rage. “I’ll take that as a yes,” she hissed through gritted teeth. “And I’m happy to oblige.” She walked very, very calmly towards the otaku, with that special glint in her eyes usually reserved for those people who, soon after being seen, grab a shotgun and go searching for a bell tower. The instant she was within striking distance of the nerd, she obliged. Throwing out her foot, she struck the otaku hard against the face with a heeled foot. Time froze in between the kick, and the distance that the otaku traveled immediately after the backlash was administered. The nerd was lifted clear off his feet, and knocked into the metaphorical next week. In unanimous agreement, the crowd that had supported the large man parted, allowing the nerd to travel several feet before a massive thud was heard, his giant girth making friends with the solid ground.

    The group parted even further away from May as she walked forward, hands on her hips, and bent over the nerd, who was wheezing from the impact. The otaku winced as she approached, and she smiled, like a hungry wolf preparing to feed on her prey. “If you, or anyone here, mentions his name to me again, and you will pay,” she growled, her eyes taking on a predatory look, glaring at him. Fuming, she spun round on her heel and left the crowd speechless, looking around for the nearest drinking establishment, feeling a desperate need to blow off some steam. It took her only a moment, and a sign advertising an Orre-style cantina. One that the nerds, judging by the acne on their faces, could not follow her into. Perfect, she sighed, making a quick dash for the bar, dodging through the relatively light traffic on the walkways. She almost collided into someone, even, just to get there as fast as she could. A light drink, just to take her mind off things, was exactly what she needed to unwind.

    Opening the revolving doors, she took a quick survey of the room. There were only a couple of people inside, the only one of them which appeared conscious was sitting at the counter, his shadowed face turned towards the TV in the corner, checking out the match that her rival, Drew, was fighting in, though he didn’t appear all that interested in it. A half-full tankard sat in his gloved, strangely large hands, containing a beer color that almost bordered on black-amber. On the counter next to him, a small yellow rodent was curled up, snoozing peacefully, with a half-finished saucer of milk by it. A Pikachu, she thought, her heart briefly skipping a beat when she saw it. He had a Pikachu, she thought, though she hadn’t seen him in years. The man before her looked nothing like him, with strong, powerful muscles, albeit compact and not body-builder-size, with long hair, the raven color was the only thing that she could say reminded her of him. The man wore a yellow shirt, which was almost golden-colored if seen in the light, and hung around the man baggily, like the rest of his clothes.

    She walked towards him, deciding that sitting next to him wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world. She looked at him as she sat on the stool, and offered a quick smile, which went unnoticed by the man himself, whose face was covered by heavy bangs, and who seemed engaged in the activities on the television. Holding up her hand, she signaled to the barkeep, who came over a moment later, obviously bored out of his mind. “Could I please get a Mai Tai?” she asked, resting her elbow against the counter. The bartender looked her over once, before his working eye widened when he figured out who she was, and nodded his head.

    “Ten, please,” he muttered, grabbing various rums and juices for the drink. May groaned, and pulled her wallet out of her pocket. She flicked it open, and rooted through its contents, coming up with only five in bills. She looked up, watching the barman work, and grinned sheepishly.

    “Do you take credit cards, by any chance?” she asked, revealing her empty wallet. The barman looked at her, and shook his ruddy head. May sank her head, but lifted when the man next to her coughed, having apparently woken up from his thoughts. She watched as he put a hand into his pocket, and dug up a twenty bill, and threw it in the direction of the bartender.

    “It’s on me,” the dark man muttered, scratching the ears of his Pikachu. His attention was still on the TV, watching as the Roselia delivered a very nice Body Slam to its opponent. “You look like you’ve had a rough time.” He sighed, then raised the glass to his lips, draining the last half of his drink. “Another one, barkeep.” The dark man tossed the mug at the barman, as the one-eyed drinks mixer handed the Mai Tai to May. The barman grunted, and poured out another cup for the trainer.

    “Thanks,” she murmured, raising the lithe glass to her lips and sipping, the light rum burning lightly in the back of her throat. She set the glass on the wood counter, and rubbed her head. “It’s just that groupies make me sick sometimes. Paparazzi hasn’t left me alone for years…”

    The dark man beside her grunted, and turned himself so he was facing away with her, and nodded his head. “Yeah, life sucks, doesn’t it?” he asked, his voice a dull growl, as the bartender handed him his third beer for the afternoon. May nodded her agreement, chuckling lightly, before he spoke again. “What’s your story, anyway? I thought people wanted to be famous.” The dark man raised his glass, and took a small gulp out of the beer. May sighed, but shook her head.

    “It’s nothing really,” she answered, taking a second sip from the small beverage. The bartender, sensing he was not needed from a hand motion from the dark man, decided to occupy himself with a dusty glass beneath the counter, keeping his one eye on the match on the TV. “Just the life of every celebrity you read about, you know? Marriage, divorce. That kind of stuff.” The man nodded his head, scratching the head of his Pikachu, its happy face peaceful and content. It was actually pretty cute, she thought, almost like his Pikachu. “You ever get into things like that?” She waited for him to answer, taking another drink from her Mai Tai.

    The dark man chuckled, nodding behind his back. “Yeah, I’ve been in stuff like that,” he replied, taking another sip from his tankard. “The way families are like nowadays, it’s tough to find the ‘ideal’ family. Yeah, I know what you’re talking about.” He coughed into his drink, then took another draught. “I used to have a wife, and a kid too. Didn’t work out the way I had planned, so my wife made me leave.” He paused, then offered a small chuckle. “I still pay alimony, I’m not a deadbeat like most, but the funny thing is that I can’t even see my kid. When we split, she got a court order saying that I couldn’t come near the kid, or ever talk to her. So, I don’t exactly know my kid.”

    “Oh…” May dropped her face, looking at the combat boots the man wore. “I sort of do the same thing to my ex-husband. He can’t see my baby girl, because I got the same kind of order from the courts. I still get the checks like clockwork though…” She touched her chest, it hurt talking about her former husband. “But I think he deserves it, after what he did to me, and how much he hurt me.”

    The dark man grunted. “Don’t you worry about how he feels? I mean, not being able to ever see his daughter must be horrible for him.”

    She snorted into her glass in response. “It doesn’t matter,” May retorted, sipping in her drink. “I don’t want my daughter around that kind of people anyway. He’s the one that did it me, and not the other way around. He destroyed me, so I really don’t care about his feelings on the subject.” She looked up at him, noticing a slight change in his voice. It seemed sadder. “Hey, are you in the Contest, big guy?”

    The man nodded. “Yeah. I’m in the semi-finals tomorrow. I was transferred in as a wild card, so I haven’t been in the earlier rounds. I hope I have some decent competition this time, I haven’t lost a fight for a good long while…” He sighed, lifting his head to stare at the ceiling. “You are, I know that. I saw you on the tube. You weren’t bad, but there’s always room for improvement.”

    She grinned. “Well, I’m pretty stiff competition, you know. I’m a top coordinator from Hoenn, so it shouldn’t be a cakewalk for even the best coordinators.” She raised her eyes, sizing him up. “I’m May Birch,” she said, finishing her drink, and settling in on the counter. “What’s yours?”

    The dark man sat up straighter, paying attention. “Does it really matter?” he asked, cocking his head. “I don’t use my real names in events like these. Got a chart on ya for the next matches?” May shook her head but, as if on cue, the match ended on the TV, and displayed the next round. May smiled, looking at her own face displayed on the monitor. Drew’s face was there, as well, along with Hikari’s beaming gaze. And then…she looked at her own opponent, who bore a very strong resemblance to the man she had been talking to. The dark, raven bangs covered the eyes, but his face was set into a half-smile, as though he had tried to smile, but had somehow failed. They couldn’t hear what the announcer was saying, but May could see the names underneath the faces. Hers, Drew’s, and Hikari’s she knew, but the mystery man she didn’t.

    Keean Toby.

    May scratched her chin. “I’ve never heard of you, Mr. Toby,” she said. “How have you avoided the paparazzi?” The dark man heard her, but didn’t answer the question, so she changed the subject, looking towards the Pikachu waking on the table. It’s eyes were fluttering open, and it yawned deeply. “How long have you been training that Pikachu?”

    When the mouse was fully awake, it stared at May for a moment, as though having an experience of déj?* vu. When it did, the man bent his head down to his Pokemon, and grunted. “Kachu,” he muttered to the rodent, who nodded and kept quiet. “Pretty long,” he answered, as the Pokemon climbed back onto his back, and settled on his left shoulder. It blinked, then began to whisper to its dark trainer rapidly. “We’ve got to get going.” The man stiffened, then rose to his full height. Nodding to the barman, he turned to face the doorway out. “It’s been nice talking with you, May Birch. I’ll see you around.” With that, he waved, and shoved his hands into his pockets.

    She raised her hand. “See you later, then,” she answered, as he left the bar, to stew in her own thoughts and guilt.
    Last edited by Power Shot; 16th June 2007 at 7:56 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...

  2. #2
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    The dark man who called himself Keean Toby exited the bar, and started to the left, taking in the surroundings again. He ignored the calls from the vendors, the faces in the crowd, and blended into the environment. He didn’t speak, but began to take note of all of the surroundings, checking the entrances and exits, the emergency evacuation areas, and areas that small objects could be concealed. Things that most normal people wouldn’t look for, but things he needed to look for nonetheless. Ten minutes into his investigation, his pants began to vibrate, stunning him momentarily, but he adjusted. “It’s for me,” he muttered to the Pikachu, reaching into his pocket. He retrieved the small, cell-phone device, and flipped it open. The blank screen glowed to life, and the man ducked into a corner, head swerving round as he checked to make sure no one had noticed him.

    He sighed. He hated when he boss called. The dark man pressed a button on the silver phone, and pressed it against his ear. “This is Agent 1076,” he muttered. The man turned to Pikachu, and nodded his head. Without a word, the yellow rodent hopped off his shoulder, and scurried away in the direction of the crowds. “My Pikachu is covering the target for me as we speak.”

    “Agent 1076,” said a voice from the receiver, a dark growl that almost made the man flinch. Almost. “Status report. Has the target been identified?”

    “Target has been identified. The target is presently in an Orre-style cantina, and is preparing to meet up with the rest of her party. Assumptions that she won have been confirmed, meaning she will be attending the dinner later tonight. I shall be attending as well, under alias.” The man took a deep breath, then continued. “Now, cut the crap, and tell me what is wrong. You know I can handle something this easy without a checkup.”

    The person on the other side grunted, and the man could hear the faint scratching of a pen as his report was taken down. “We have received confirmation that a terrorist organization unknown to us is planning to attack the event. Their purpose is unknown, but the conditions of protecting your target have changed. To that end, a second, superior agent is being dispatched, and is on route to Saffron. A specialist agent with the kind of firepower to combat a terrorist threat of this nature.”

    Inside, the dark man groaned, his face sagging into an angered frown. “You’re sending me one of the spandexes?” he demanded, a feeling of deep annoyance welling up within him. “Listen, 003, I can handle a terrorist. I don’t need someone in flashy tights showing up to steal my thunder.” He growled, striking the wall behind him with his free arm. “I can handle this on my own, and you know it.”

    Agent 003, if he cared, ignored the comment. “Your orders have changed, to correspond with this. Orders to protect solely the target have been terminated. Orders to continue incognito within the Contest have remained, with the added measure that you will forfeit if you may win. New orders are to receive Agent 0, Gold, and secure a safe passage for his operations. You will subordinate directly to him, obeying all commands given, without question.” The voice paused, and a small sigh transferred over the phone. “You are otherwise allowed free reign of your assignment. Try and have some fun, 1076. I’ve read your files, you had to give up a lot for us. Do something for yourself for a change.”

    The dark man rolled his eyes. “How nice of you to care, 003. Blow it out your ***,” he finished, pressing down hard on the red button, cutting the line dead. Sighing, he flipped the phone shut and stuck it back into his pocket. His jaw set, the man slammed his fists against the wall, grunting in irritation, as a wave of depression and frustration rooted itself firmly in his stomach. “Just what I need,” he grumbled, looking out into the crowd. “Another idiotic, annoying encounter with my favorite spandex.” As he stewed his feelings within himself, a flash of yellow prompted his attention, and within moments, the little mouse Pikachu was sitting on his shoulder, looking at him quizzically. “You ever think I made the wrong choice, Pikachu?”

    The mouse shook its head, and shrugged its shoulder. “Kachu, pi,” it replied. The man sighed, of course the mouse wouldn’t know. Only he did, and damn it all if he couldn’t figure it out. The dark man removed himself from the wall he was leaning on, and started to shuffle through the crowd, soon losing himself in the wanderings of the other people, trapped amid his own thoughts.

    He sighed, feeling the pain of the golden ring hitting softly against his chest. “I gave her up. I gave both of them up, and this is the result,” he murmured, glancing through the crowd. He could see the couples, walking arm and arm together, laughing away their time. He saw families, children holding onto their mothers and fathers, wandering around. His face broke into a soft smile, as he remembered how he used to do that, with her, and with their child. Walking in the street, as if they had all the time in the world, his little girl taking her little baby steps in between them. The memory almost brought tears to his eyes. Almost. “It’s nothing but a memory now,” he whispered to himself and Pikachu, vanishing into the couples and families, nothing more than a passing shadow. A darkened stranger in a cascade of light.

    “Damn.”
    ***
    Max passed the time waiting for May by recounting a story from his own years of traveling for Brock’s own amusement. He lowered his voice, while Sarah assaulted the pizza in front of her in a manner that classified as third-degree manslaughter, as some of the stories were never suitable for small children. Brock’s mouth widened, and he gasped as Max finished. “So, let me see if I have this straight,” he murmured, as Max took a sip from the soft drink he had purchased. “You mean to say that you and here were-” He paused, making sure Sarah was preoccupied “-alone of various periods of time?”

    Max, who was undisturbed by the question, continued drinking, but inclined his head, confirming the secret message in Brock’s question. “That, my friend, would be correct,” he answered, setting his drink down onto the table. “But I’ll fill you in on the…other information later though.”

    “Max, are you boasting stuff you can’t back up?” The voice jolted Max out of his normal, relaxed state, and he turned to see his sister standing behind him, a sharp glare on him. Max grinned, and feigned ignorance to what she was inferring to. “Hey, Brock,” she said, smiling at the big man. Brock concurred, and wrapped her in a powerful hug. “Great to see you, buddy.”

    Brock grinned. “Great to catch up again, May. Sorry I was late, a few matches back in Pewter somehow kept delaying me. I caught a train here a few hours ago…” He then noticed that May was having trouble breathing, and released her from his grasp, chuckling to himself. “Sarah, climb!” he ordered. The little girl, now finished with her meal, jumped on the table and tackled Brock’s back, assuming the piggyback position with expert timing.

    Sarah laughed, then jumped off Brock to land on May, who hugged her daughter tight. “Hi, baby girl,” she said to Sarah, tickling her belly. “Were you good for your babysitters?” Max, upon hearing the question, immediately began shaking his head from side to side, and Brock slapped his back to stop him.

    “Mommy!” Sarah cried out happily, holding tightly onto her mother. “Win, Mommy?” she asked.

    She grinned, raising her thumb. “Yeah,” she answered. “Win, baby.” Sarah shouted for joy, grabbing her mom hard. Brock and Max high-fived.

    “That means we get to go to that dinner tonight, right?” Max asked, hoping for high-class, free food.

    May nodded, and Brock said, “How about we carry this celebration somewhere else, huh? If we have a dinner to go to, we’d better go get ready! I need to rent a tux…”

    “Okay,” May replied, setting Sarah gently down on the floor, keeping the little girl’s right arm in between her grasp. “Then let’s get going gang.” Max took the lead, and led his sister and niece in the direction of the nearest atrium exit, Brock following behind the three, checking out the women as he went. Fortunately, he restrained himself, wanting to set a good example for Sarah.

    The dark man watched as they left for the dinner, surrounded by the massive ocean of people still traveling through the center, shrouding him from their live eyes. He forced himself to watch, like he always did, as the little girl laughed in happiness, the joyful face that the girl made when she saw the woman. The pained feeling within him throbbed every single time his heart beat, growing every time in intensity. “She’ll never look at me like that,” he muttered, his head falling to watch her go. He took a step forward, walking into the food court just behind them, but far enough away so that they didn’t see him. He wanted away from the groups around him, the couples and the families, feeling the urge to be alone again. “I wish she knew me, Pi.”

    “Pi, Pikachu,” the rodent answered sympathetically, patting the dark man’s head with its small paw. “Kachu.” The dark man nodded, and lifted his head slowly, wanting to catch a final glimpse of the girl before he left. He mouth opened, gaping in surprise as his gaze struck the little girl again.

    Just as May headed down the atrium, leading Brock and Max behind herself and her daughter, Sarah turned around, taking one last look at the center before she left for the day. Her dark, raven eyes flew round, checking everything they could see, before they stopped, for just a split second, resting on the dark man standing alone, apart from any crowd, the Pikachu sitting quietly on his shoulder. He looked to her, and his heart fluttered, beating wildly, though the pain had lessened in that moment. In that moment, she had seen him, even though she didn’t know who he was, or what she meant to him. But, in the next moment, the girl vanished, lost in the void of the crowd surrounding the atrium, heading for the world beyond, Saffron City, leaving the dark man standing where he was, hands in his pockets, with his mouth slightly opened.

    He sighed, his head falling back to stare at the polished ground beneath his feet. “I love you, Sarah,” he whispered sadly, his tone full of loss. “And I love you too, May.” Those were the absolutes, the things that would never change about the dark man, no matter where he went or what he did.

    Pikachu felt the pain coursing through its trainer, and nodded. “Pi,” it squeaked, before pointing to where they had come from, the main atrium that led out of the center into Saffron.

    The man shrugged his shoulders, turning away from the exit. “Yeah, I know,” he replied, turning away from the door. He couldn’t push May and Sarah, his lost love and daughter, from his mind forever, but he could put away the feelings until he had time for them. “It’s time to go to work, isn’t it?” The mouse squeaked its reply, and the dark trainer walked forward, his combat boots clunking on the floor. A second later, he was gone, vanished in the sea of people, non-existent to anyone who saw him. As he said it, he was nothing more than a passing shadow, a lurking memory that was never forgotten, but never fully remembered. Déj?* vu, as his colleagues put it, to be seen by the public then dismissed just as quickly.

    The people in attendance continued with their lives, shopping, battling, and messing around to their hearts content. And only one person in the crowd, the dark man, knew the fate that could befall them if he failed. Nothing changed for them, the public was perfectly happy, ignorant of what was coming, concerned solely with enjoying themselves, and having a good time. The terror threat wasn’t known to them, or the responsibility shouldered upon the dark man, now burdened with their lives. It was the furthest thing from their vacant minds. Only he knew, and he wasn’t even allowed to do anything to stop it without spandex approval. It made him sick.

    The only light left in the dark man wondered about his daughter. He wondered who she was as he wandered in the direction of the exit. He wondered how she was, whether she missed not having a father, or even if she knew she had one. It was one thing to see his daughter, to just look at the little girl. It was another to know her. She was a stranger to her, even though he knew her better than anyone outside her mother. If he could just talk to her, hold her within his arms like other fathers could. He wanted to tell her who he was, and how much she and her mother meant to him. Is that so much to ask?

    Even though it was one of the most rewarding jobs in the world, and one of the most secret, the dark man hated his life as a PKM Agent. He hated what it had done to him, and what it had, in the end, cost him forever.
    _________________

    Comments are appreciated.
    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...

  3. #3
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    Because I know that authors do this, I'm offering a spoiler for the next chapter!

        Spoiler:


    Next! Morph Two- Problematic Promotion: The Golden Ranger Arrives!
    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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    yeah, i read your story on fanfic.net. loved it. reviewed it. very long, but theres no boring bits in the middle like you'd normally expect. probably one of the best fics i've ever read. plz continue!


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    A redone version of the original? This rocks! You really seem to like having Ash drown his sorrows in beer, don't you? Because I'm also reading After Hoenn, and Ash and beer seem to show up alot together. Very original fic, I hope this turns out as good as the original did. xXPorygonXx, out!

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    It's bigger, it's better, and the second chapter is redone and revamped. Here it is!

    Morph Two- Problematic Promotion: The Golden Ranger Arrives!

    Max, after glancing at his reflection in thought, decided that he had once again failed to learn how to properly tie his tie. Why, out of all the difficult things that he had mastered how to do, such as flirting in a form that in no way resembled Brock‘s, controlling Sarah, and managing the gym back in Petalburg, was he still unable to attach a simple piece of cloth to his neck? He groaned, undoing the stupid-looking loop hung on his neck, irritated. He walked away from the mirror, and headed towards the slightly-ajar door that led to the living room. “May, can you come help me please?” he called, raising his hand to his lips. May shouted back something he couldn’t quite understand, mainly because she was helping Sarah get changed into her dress.

    “Give me a sec!” she called back, somewhat muffled, followed by a shout of excitement from her daughter. A moment later, a slightly disorganized May walked into the room, shaking her head. “Max Birch, after all these years, have you still not learned how to tie a tie?” With a soft noise from her mouth, she walked behind Max, grabbing the tie and attaching it tightly around her brother’s neck. She wound it quickly, but smartly, so that the green tie looked half-way decent, something it would never be if she left him to it alone. “There. Now you just need your jacket and we’ll be done.” She slapped Max on the back, and walked out of the door, as she herself needed to add on some final changes to her dress. Max chuckled, placing the black jacket over his deep jade shirt, and observed himself in the mirror. He didn’t look too bad, he might even pick up a phone number or three, depending on if Brock decided to put on his own moves. The older man always drove off at least one person.

    “Ready!” he shouted, brushing his hand through his hair one last time, and straightening his glasses, before he walked out of his adjoining room, where Sarah was waiting on the couch, watching another match on TV, obviously changed, as she now had one a small black dress, very plain, and her raven hair stuck up with chopsticks. Another door opened, and the man called Brock emerged, in a navy blue suit with a black bowtie attached. Brock never had problems when it came to dressing himself, so he always wore the more difficult bowtie to taunt Max.

    “Phew, am I glad to be out of that center,” Brock breathed, inhaling the air around him. Max agreed, sitting in a small chair by the sofa, relaxing. Brock sat on the other side, fingering his bowtie. “It’s good to be out in the world again, where the fresh air is.” Max chuckled, glancing at the TV. Sarah shouted in triumph when they showed the Aipom being blasted. “They’re replaying the matches from today.” Brock pointed at the screen. “I think they’re doing some sort of analysis on May’s match.”

    “Huh.” Max turned back to Brock. “I swear Brock, every year we have to go to this that center gets smellier and smellier,” he jested, covering his noise with his left hand, pinching the nostrils shut. “It smells like a bunch of otaku in there!” Brock laughed, slapping his knee.

    Sarah, having heard a word that was unknown to her, turned her head in the direction of her uncle. “What’s otaki mean?” she asked, looking up as May exited her room behind Max.

    “Are we ready to go?” Max twisted his body to see May, in a crimson ballroom dress, lightly laced black gloves on her hands. Brock instantly blushed, while Max turned back to Sarah. “Here, daughter.” Sarah obeyed, hopping off the couch to stand by her mother’s side. “What are we talking about?”

    Sarah looked up at her mother. “What’s otaki mean, Mommy?”

    Max stood up, a big grin on his face. “It means one of the big, sweaty nerds that hang out at the Contest, Sarah,” he explained, holding his hands out in front of his stomach to show a fat person, and he started huffing, breathing heavily.

    Sarah looked to Brock. “It means Uncle Max?” she asked, placing her thumb into her mouth and suckling gently.

    May couldn’t control herself, and burst out laughing, along with Brock, as Max’s face was stained a fierce scarlet. “Come on, otaku,” May nudged, over several small giggles, and Max reluctantly followed. “Let’s go scope the people downstairs. I need to see that opponent of mine again.” Brock nodded, and they walked towards the door, the big man opening the door to admit them out. He waited until the mother, daughter, and uncle team were out before he himself exited, shutting off the lights by clapping twice.

    “So, who exactly is your opponent tomorrow?” he asked May, as she hit the button for the elevator. “I didn’t exactly check the roster for tomorrow’s matches.”

    May shrugged. “I know that Hikari’s up against Drew tomorrow, and I’m up against this wild card guy, Keean Toby.” Brock’s brow arched curiously, and she nodded in agreement. “I have no idea who he is either. I met him today, in an Orre-style cantina, but he didn’t really say much.”

    “What’s he like?” Max asked.

    May scratched her head, trying to find the right answer. “He…he reminds me of someone,” she replied. “I don’t know why, but I kept having the weirdest sense of déj?* vu while I was talking with him. He’s dark, I’ll say that much. Mysterious too.”

    “Got any idea of how he fights?”

    May shook her head. “He was with a Pikachu, a pretty powerful one too, from the looks of it. Maybe that was what felt so familiar… Well, we’ll see him downstairs, all of the semi-finalists should be at the dinner.” She thought of the Pikachu again, it had seemed familiar too. It had looked at her funny, like it had seen her before. Brock touched his chin, wondering about Keean Toby.

    “You don’t think that maybe…he…” Brock pondered aloud.

    May shook her head. “No, I don’t think so. For one, the guy was totally different. Even if he had a Pikachu, I’m sure it’s just a coincidence. Nothing more.” But even as she said the words, she wondered how much she really believed them. “I mean…he can’t come. He wouldn’t…”

    “Who’s coming, Mommy?” Sarah asked, pulling on her mother’s strings.

    She shook her head. “Nobody, baby. Just someone we used to know.”

    Thankfully for May, the elevator opened, and the cheesy elevator music vanished as they turned the corner of the hotel, towards the dining room that had been reserved for the dinner. Max opened the double doors for the group, and the brightly lit room became exposed to them. It wasn’t all the big, mainly because the dinner was for the semi-finalists and a few select members of their friends and family. A few social figures were there, May could see the Gym Leader, Sabrina, standing next to her mother and father, talking to someone that she didn’t recognize in the far corner. About five tables sat in the center of the room, all circles and seated for five people, white linen cloth draped on the surfaces. “Well, how about we press the flesh?” Max asked, scoping the general area for beautiful women, while Brock drooled at Sabrina. May nodded, spotting her friend Hikari on the other side of the room. Keeping a tight grip on Sarah’s arm, because she knew her daughter loved mischief, May gave a loud shout in Hikari’s direction. The coordinator turned, and a big smile lit up her face.

    “May!” she exclaimed, wrapping her arms around her friend. May grinned, it had been a few months since she had last seen Hikari, but she was still energetic and ready to have fun. She had cut her hair short, so it only fell to her neck, but she was nevertheless inducing drools from Brock, a fine compliment if a woman took it that way. She wasn’t in a dress, but rather a snowy white kimono, complete with a black wrap along her waist. She looked up at May, smiling. “It’s wonderful to see you again.” She reached down, patting Sarah’s head. “You too, Sarah. How have you been?”

    The little girl nodded. “I’m okay,” she replied with a smile.

    “We’ve been good, Hikari,” May answered. “Some wins, some loses. You know the drill. All in all, everybody’s fine in Petalburg. I think my dad’s getting tired of being used as Sarah’s horse, though, so Max does double duty as the Gym Leader and babysitter now.”

    The other woman laughed. “Poor Max, like he didn’t have enough work.” She turned, bending down to the little girl. “Now, you behave for your Uncle Max. He loves you very much, but that love needs to go both ways, alright?”

    Sarah nodded, with a twinkle in her eyes. “Okay, Hikari.”
    ***
    The dark man adjusted the gold tie on his neck, and looked himself over again. He was exactly what he was supposed to look like: a boring, unnoticeable coordinator. His hair, while still unkempt, was nicely groomed for the dinner. The man felt stiff and uncomfortable in the black suit he was wearing. He looked completely different from the kid he had once been, his jaw set into a thin, permanent line as he checked for stray lint or hairs on the fine suit.

    Pikachu was out on the veranda of their large hotel suite, enjoying the night breeze of the city, so the man didn’t bother to disturb it just yet. His jet-black suit, specially ordered from the finest tailor in Saffron City, looked like something out of a James Bont movie. The shirt beneath was the same color, exactly as he had asked, with a dark gold tie. The man hesitated for a moment, before he reached into the coat pocket beneath his lapel, removing the sunglasses within, and placed the dark visors over his head. He needed to remain incognito, something difficult to do in a room crowded full of people he knew from a past life.

    Deciding that he looked more like yakuza than a coordinator, the man walked from the shiny, porcelain bathroom, clapping off the lights with two taps, and headed through the living area, a rather nice space which was mostly styled after Kanto architecture, with a kneeing table for eating, and a small, plasma TV that was the man’s own personal request. Some paintings hung on the faint, cream-colored walls, modern, not the kind he preferred. Nothing modern in art really qualified as art to the man, his head turning to look at the portraits as he passed. To his left, a full king-size bed awaited his later use, though he would probably spend the night resting on the hard floor. Years of travel had affected his needs for comfort and warmth, to the point where he honestly didn’t feel that comfortable lying on a soft mattress when there was a perfectly good space on the floor.

    He opened the glass sliding door, walking out onto the small veranda where his Pokemon sat in a chair, snoozing peacefully. The man closed the door, slightly harder than needed, so that Pikachu would wake up. The yellow mouse’s eyes flickered open, and it straightened its little body. The man nodded his head, and the Pokemon relaxed. He walked to the second chair, and sat down next to it, scratching its head.

    “He’s going to be here soon,” he muttered, looking out into the vast city before him. Lights and neon signs glowed in the distance, below the twentieth floor they resided on. “I really don’t want to see him again.” Pikachu nodded its agreement, it wasn’t all that happy with having to work with the famous Agent 0 of the PKM either. The Golden Ranger, aside having the most powerful equipment the whole of PKM had ever designed, was not one of their favorite people. Sighing, the man looked to his wrist, pulling out the small, digital watch he had put on. “It’s almost nine,” he murmured, looking to the mouse. “We’d better get going.” In response, Pikachu crouched, before leaping up to its trainer’s shoulders. The man patted its head once, before he rose from the chair, straightening the suit.

    The man walked back into the hotel room, closing the door to the veranda as he went back in. As he walked to the door, a knock issued from the outside of his room. The man’s hand went to the waistband of his pants, where the small, handheld revolver lay concealed. Cautiously, he approached the door, reaching for the handle and turning it gently. As he opened it, he saw one of the bellboys standing there waiting for him, a smile on the young man’s face and a tray in his hand.

    “What do you want?” the man asked, looking down at the little man through his visors. In response, the young man tipped his grey cap, and opened the covered tray with a flourish, revealing a small gray chip sitting in the center of the platter.

    “This was delivered to the hotel, with requests that it be taken to your room, sir,” the bellboy answered. The man nodded, snatching up the chip in his hand, and nodding his head. “Were you expecting it?”

    The man shrugged. “Sort of,” he answered, before walking into his room, shutting the door behind him. The man heard the bellboy behind the door, hopeful that he might yet get a tip, but after a few moments he got the message, and left. The man, alone with the Pikachu once more, waited on the other side of the door, his hand inside his pocket, until the faint buzz of the communicator’s vibrator flared to life, exactly as the man predicted. He lifted the silver device from his pants, and flipped it open. Sure enough, on the small screen, a single number was displayed as the caller-ID.

    0.

    “Agent 1076 here,” the man muttered dryly, raising the receiver to his lips. “What do you want?”

    He heard a dry cackle from the other side of the line, as an older man answered. He felt that string of annoyance stir up within him against the one called 0. “Agent 1076,” he replied, his soothing voice repulsing the man. “How very nice to hear from you again. I was hoping to run into you sometime this year. How have things been?”

    “Cut it out,” the man retorted, staring at the strange silver cartridge the bellboy had delivered. “What’s this silver thing you’ve given me, and what does it do?”

    “Call me ‘sir’,” Agent 0 answered, completely ignoring the question. “Call me ‘sir,’ or no orders for you, Agent 1076.”

    The man grinned. “That suits me fine, 0. I’ll just kick everyone’s *** at the Contest tomorrow, and we won’t have to see each other. That works for me, though HQ might say otherwise. What’s say you cut the crap and give me the orders from PKM?”

    “You, 1076, are absolutely no fun,” droned the dark voice in response. “Fine, since you’re so curious. If you look at the cartridge, you will notice a special number on the bottom. Read it out to me.” The man looked to the silver device, flipping it over to see a small number etched in black on the bottom.

    “SA-6.”

    “Exactly,” the Ranger answered. “It is an SA Cart, which connects to your PKM com-link. I procured it for you from the PKM special tech department. It will insert itself in the special slot in your com-link when you need to carry out PKM duties without revealing your identity. It has been decided by higher ups to temporarily promote you to Special Agent status. Your new number will be SA 06. Congratulations.”

    “I don’t want a promotion,” the man retorted, clenching tight the fist with the cartridge inside it. “I just want some orders.”

    “You want orders, rookie?” the voice spat back. “Your orders, SA 06, are to secure your entry to the Contest. You are to remain under your alias as Keean Toby, and you are to engage your former wife in battle tomorrow. Your secondary orders are as follows: defeat your wife, and your promotion to SA 06 status will be rescinded, and you will return to the grunt rank of 1076. Lose, and your promotion becomes permanent. Is that understood, SA 06?”

    The SA grinned. “I won’t lose, then,” he retorted stubbornly. “But you aren’t making it easy, setting me up against her of all people tomorrow. Got any particular reason for it?”

    “I know it will be hard. That is why, SA 06. I am aware, as are PKM, of the attachments you have at the Contest. You are not to interact with them outside of tonight’s social event, as the temptation is something you do not need. Do not let your heart cloud your judgment, that is the one thing that keeps you from Ranger status.” The voice stopped, letting the dark man process the information. “I understand what you feel. Do not let it blind you to your duty. Is that clear?”

    “…Easy for you to say,” the man mumbled, before he terminated the conversation. “You don’t have attachments like I do.” He scowled, shoving the communicator and the SA Cart into the pocket of his suit, sighing deeply. He turned, facing the window, seeing himself once more, only in a different light than before, in self--loathing and despair. “That’s all they are to him, isn’t it? Attachments.” He saw his powerful muscles, concealed beneath the disguising suit. He saw the dark tan that traced over his body, an after effect of a southern mission. He was totally different from how he had been, four years ago.

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

    The man flinched, as the memory’s echo ran through his mind. He hated when that particular sound rang through his mind, it did so every once in a while. The dark man suffered from extensive insomnia, brought forth by that exact memory. The man tried sleeping, he really did, but nothing he did would banish that nightmare from the recesses of his mind. No matter how many years passed, her scream, and his loss, would remain sealed in his mind, awaiting him the moment he dropped his guard. It never left his head. The tears she shed that night, the endless sobs, they tormented him, even after all this time. Every time he fell asleep, when he dropped his guard, the nightmare, and the image of that night, returned, the last time he and his wife loved each other. The last time he had held her, the last time…

    The man looked up, staring into the dull emptiness of the room. It had been a while since he had slept, since he had relaxed his guard. He was prolonging it, because he never wanted to see it again. “Ever since I became an agent, the very first day, I knew what was going to happen. I…I just didn’t want to believe it would happen. I tried so hard to stop what I was becoming, Pi, but the instant I was inducted, my fate was sealed.” He felt one of the headaches that came with his insomnia, and ignored it. A headache was not going to help him. “She would have never understood, even if I could have told her.” He was never allowed to tell, carrying the burden forever within. He was sworn to keep who and what he had become to protect her a secret to the grave. And how could I keep the secret from her, when I love her with all my heart?

    Pikachu nodded, the mumbled something that the dark man alone could understand, because he rose properly from where he had leaned against the wall. He turned towards the door, rechecking the watch on his wrist. He cursed under his breath, he was going to be late if he didn’t hurry. The man wrenched the door open, with little restraint, and slammed it shut behind him. He attracted a few stares from some of the other people on the floor, but with a well-placed glare they promptly found something else to be interested in. The man marched through the corridor, heading for the elevators to the main dining room, where the party was taking place. The doors opened a minute later, and he stepped in, the cheesy music irritating him. He glanced at himself again, slamming hard on the button for the party floor.

    “Let’s get things moving,” he muttered, resisting the urge to punch out the mirror. The elevator started to hum, and the man got the impression that he was falling slowly to earth, the normal feeling which informed him that the lift was working. Pikachu kept still, as it didn’t exactly like elevators that much, so the man propped himself against the railing, yawning. The need for sleep was getting powerful, he always seemed to get tired whenever he was an assignment like this. He pushed his tiring body to function, remembering that he just needed to wait until he got back to the room to get the fix needed to keep him awake.

    Without love. He cursed, as the voice rocked through his mind, grabbing his head in annoyance. The headache was worsening. “Shut up,” he ordered himself, straightening himself up in an attempt to keep himself calm. He hated when he talked to himself. His attention, thankfully, was saved, as the ding from the elevator door informed him that he had reached his destination. As he moved forward, he felt the rodent’s paw on his head, it whispering words of encouragement to him. “I know, Pi. I do. But this is something I can’t fight like a criminal or a terrorist. This is about my emotions, and those are more dangerous than anything we’ve had to fight.”

    “Kachu,” it answered with a tinge of sadness in its tone. The man lifted his hand, and patted its yellow head, forcing a half-smile to appear on his lips. He chuckled, though he didn’t mean it, before he headed for the dinner room, adjusting the glasses on his face. He wasn’t acting to play Keean Toby, he didn’t need to. Keean Toby was a dark warrior, a person without remorse or pity, or even polite manners, though he was courteous. He did not engage others in conversation, preferring the stereotype of a loner. The man would stay for as long as he needed to in order to establish Keean Toby, then he would leave. And above all, he would avoid if possible any interaction with his former friends, who might see through the disguise.

    The man became Keean Toby, and stepped into the room.
    ***
    “Now, Sarah, no more attacking the waiters, okay?”

    May suppressed her chuckles, watching as the injured man was walked away by two other servers, his hands clutching weakly at his stomach. Sarah just blew a raspberry at the man, obviously very pleased with herself. The man just growled, resisting the urge to remove himself from his friends, and teach the girl a lesson. But he was led away, leaving Max and Brock to search for a new server to order their drinks from.

    “Awight, Mommy,” she answered, bobbing her head up and down. May found it impossible to remain angry at her daughter, so she patted the little girl on the head, giving her a reassuring smile. She opened her mouth to remind Sarah exactly why she shouldn’t tackle people, when the doors opened, and a dark figure entered the room. For some reason, time seemed to slow down for May as the man walked in, and the door closed behind him. She didn’t mistake him for a moment, she knew exactly who he was. The aura that seemed to waft from him, the scent of danger and darkness. Sarah didn’t seem to notice, so the little girl pulled on her mother’s dress. May snapped out of the strange spell cast by Keean Toby, and looked down to her daughter.

    “Baby girl, why don’t you go play with Uncle Max for a minute?” she asked, her eyes still on the man. “I’m going to go say hello to the person I’m up against tomorrow.” Sarah nodded, and skipped in the direction of her uncle, just as he had gotten a small, amber-filled glass, as May straightened herself, brushing down any creases in her crimson dress, checking her hair, before she approached the man. His Pikachu spotted her ahead of time, and whispered something she couldn’t understand into his ear. Just like last time, the man muttered back in the Pokemon’s unique tongue, and the little rodent hopped off, darting across the room and vanishing from May’s eyes.

    “H-hello, Mr. Toby,” she murmured, bowing her head in acknowledgement towards the dark man. “It’s nice to see you again.” She lifted her arm, offering a handshake to the man, but he surprisingly didn’t take it, deciding to place his hands into his pockets. He lifted his head from the position it had held earlier, staring at the floor, to look at her face. She was slightly stunned by his facial appearance, his back had been to her in the cantina, so it was strange to see the hardened face and the blackened glasses the man wore. He didn’t smile, but his face softened when he saw her.

    “Miss Birch,” he replied, nodding his head. “It is nice to see you again. Please, call me Keean, Mr. Toby was my father.” She chuckled at the small jest, and Keean snapped his fingers, signaling a waiter that he wanted something. A young man, with a shaved head and blond eyes, snapped to. He rushed through the spread tables and small crowds towards Keean, eager to take his order. “I want a beer, kid, and if I don’t have it within two minutes, you’re in trouble.” His mouth lifted in a small smile, as the young man tripped over a chair in his haste to get to the kitchens on the other side of the ballroom, to retrieve a bottle. May giggled, looking up at the mysterious coordinator.

    “You’re mean,” she answered delicately, wagging a finger at him. “You’re my opponent tomorrow, right? It’s strange that I’ve never heard of you before, I usually keep up with famous coordinators around the world.” Right on cue, the waiter returned, with a fresh bottle of beer for Keean, who took it and waved the boy away. The waiter huffed, somewhat annoyed by the rude display from Keean, but ran when the dark man turned towards him, giving him such a stern glare that his survival instinct kicked in, and he tripped on a nearby chair from one of the tables.

    “I am your opponent,” he answered carefully, lifting the neck of the amber bottle to his lips and taking a small sip. “It figures I get the best coordinator in my first round.” He chuckled mildly, and walked with May in the direction of one of the vacant tables nearby. Keean pulled out a chair for the young lady, and allowed her to take her seat, before sitting down himself beside her.

    May’s face flushed briefly. “You flatter me, Keean Toby,” she answered. “But, I must ask how you have kept out of the public’s eye. Like I said earlier, I’ve never heard your name before.” She lifted her brows suggestively. “What’s your secret?”

    Keean Toby looked round, as if someone might overhear something he might want kept confidential. Then, he leaned in close, resting his arms on the white-clothed, circular table, whispering, “ Don’t tell anyone, but I’m not really a coordinator. I‘m really a secret agent.” He then grinned, displaying his pearly whites. Then he chuckled again.

    May giggled. “You have a strange sense of humor, Keean. Not bad, just different.” Keean nodded his head, leaning into the back of his chair. “So…what style do you use?” she asked, crossing her legs. Keean arched his brow.

    “What kind of style?” he asked, repeating the question aloud. “Well, I dabble in all sorts of things. I only have one Pokemon, so I have to it train extra hard to make up for that shortcoming. You won’t be able to beat me though…or, at least, I think I’m pretty confident that I can win against you.”

    May raised her eyes. “Cocky, aren’t you?” she answered. “What makes you think you have an edge over me?”

    The big man grinned. “Unless you can read my moves, you won’t be able to beat me. That’s the plain and truth of the matter. I’ve got an extra skill that always comes in handy when I’m losing, one that has never failed.”

    “What’s that?”

    “I know how to pull a fire alarm if things get bad.”

    May couldn’t help it. She burst out laughing, and a tear trickled out of the corner of her eye. She felt a hand on her shoulder, which snapped her back to reality, and turned her head to see a pair of bright green eyes staring back at her. Keean looked up too, to see the slightly younger, but apparent friend, of May.

    “Drew!” May smiled, jumping out of her seat at the sight of the man. Drew grinned, holding her tightly against him. Keean remained where he was, observing them, as they separated moments later. May hadn’t gotten to see her friend around the Contest until tonight, given that both of them were on opposite sides of the Contest draw-up. May grinned, ruffling the emerald bangs on Drew’s head, something that she knew he hated. The young man chuckled, reaching into his jade lapel to pull out one of his trademark crimson roses, and bowed as he handed it to the young woman.

    “It’s nice to see you again, May,” he answered with allure, as she accepted the flower from him. “I’m sorry we had to wait for so long before we could talk, my match today kept me from interfering. Plus the fans, plus the ladies…” He could have gone on, but stopped, having learned years before to control the timing and nature of his rants. He instead looked past May, to the dark coordinator that had been sitting with her. He extended his hand, but Keean made no motion in response. “Hi, friend. My name’s Drew. What’s yours?” The man looked up to Drew.

    “Name’s Keean Toby,” he answered politely, if a little forced. “I’m the wild card up against Miss Birch tomorrow.” His glasses moved up, taking in Drew. “You’re the guy in the other match, against Hikari, aren’t you?” The addressee nodded, adding in a thumbs up. “That’s interesting, but from what I’ve read, you won’t be of a challenge. We do things differently in Orre.”

    Drew nodded. “So, you’re an Orre trainer, huh? That explains your strange accent… Well, we have two Hoenn legends, a Sinnoh expert, and one Orre unknown. This Contest should be interesting.”

    Keean’s mouth shifted into a light grin. “I don’t expect it to be easy, but you should know that us Orre types don’t play nice. Maybe you should do some last minute prepping before tomorrow. I don’t plan on going soft.” He took another drink. “Got a lot riding on tomorrow.” He bent his head, and muttered sharply at the floor something that neither Drew nor May understood offhand. Instantly, a yellow flash bolted across the red carpet, and a little mouse was on his shoulder, its beady eyes looking directly at May. “I’d love to stay longer, but I was just passing through tonight. I have some last minute things that need taking care of.” He bowed his head.

    May and Drew returned the bow, the glow of friendly rivalry in their eyes. “It was a pleasure meeting you, Keean Toby. Maybe we’ll see each other on the battlefield,” Drew said, grinning at the thought of taking on the dark trainer. Keean grabbed his bottle, and flashed a second grin.

    “I look forward to fighting you tomorrow,” May added, bowing her head in response.

    “I’ll bet,” he replied, tipping his bottle to her. The dark man tilted his head, looking behind May to see a little girl that bore a strong resemblance to his opponent, hanging on the neck of a young man with glasses. He smiled, pointing to the child. “Is that your daughter?” May turned, and an exhausted expression appeared on her face at the sight of Max and Sarah, though she also found it highly amusing.

    “Yep,” she answered, beaming. “That’s little Sarah.”

    His sunglasses trailed in the girl for a moment, his smiled flickering. Then, he focused his attention on May. “She’s very beautiful, Miss Birch. It must run in the family.” He looked her up and down, and grinned lightly when he saw the slight tingle of red on her cheeks.

    “Thank you for the compliment, Keean,” she breathed, rubbing her cheek where the crimson was most prominent. The man was very charming, for an Orre trainer. “You’re very nice looking as well.”

    Keean shrugged. “I do alright, I guess,” he muttered. “Anyways, I have to leave. Look forward to our match tomorrow.” He then looked to the Pikachu on his shoulder, who nodded. “I have somewhere I need to be, so if you will excuse me…” He waved once with his hand, before clicking his heels and turning round. Keean moved forward, returning from where he had come, opening the doors leading to the rest of the hotel. May watched him go, feeling a slight flutter in her chest, and wondered what it was.

    She felt a tap on her shoulder, and Hikari giggled as she pointed to the crimson spots on her friend’s face. “Who was that?” she inquired, pointing her other hand to the door, at the disappeared form of Keean Toby. “He was cute.”

    “Hey!” Drew felt left out of the conversation. “I’m cute too, Kari,” he muttered softly to himself, but failing to convince the two ladies.

    “No you aren’t,” she retorted. “Who’s the new guy?”

    May, mimicking Keean’s actions, simply shrugged her shoulders in response. “He’s Keean Toby, my opponent tomorrow. That’s all we know about him.”

    “Really?” Hikari rubbed her chin, thinking. “I get the strangest feeling that I’ve seen him somewhere before…”
    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...

  7. #7
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    Oct 2005
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    ***
    The dark man returned to his room, physically and mentally drained. He stumbled, faltering lightly as he collapsed onto the floor a few feet into the room, groaning. Pikachu jumped off just in time, sighing. He had overdone it, the first time in a long time. It had been forty-five hours since its trainer’s last dosage, so it knew what he was suffering. About a year’s worth, give or take, of sleep deprivation was flooding through him. The little mouse abandoned its trainer, running on all fours into the bedroom, where an opened suitcase lay waiting for it. Pikachu jumped in, searching for the syringe that its trainer always carried with him, and the special serum. Grabbing the needle in its mouth, it found the tube with the soft azure chemical inside. Holding it carefully in its palm, Pikachu jumped out, running on three legs to its trainer.

    “Pi,” the man groaned, looking round through his sunglasses for his Pokemon. “Where’s the damn formula?” His Pokemon leapt to his side, and the man pushed himself up, forcing his body into a sitting position, resting his back against the walls of the hotel room. He fumbled, taking the small needle from his Pokemon, and opening the back to place the serum tube inside. Hurriedly, the man tore of the suit jacket, not bothering with what state it would be in later, and pulled up the sleeve underneath, trying to find his vein. His vision was getting hazier, he needed the serum now.

    “I would not do that, SA 06,” hissed a voice, drawing the dark man’s attention. He had just found the vein, but something stopped him from pushing the needle into his skin, and injecting himself with the chemical. He knew that voice, and knew that its presence in his room was never a good thing. He hesitated, and in that moment the lights went off, sending him into cascading darkness. He lost the vein, and dropped the syringe to the ground. He heard it clatter for a moment, when it was joined by a second noise. Footsteps echoed through the hazy darkness around SA 06 as he heard the person he despised above all others walking towards him.

    The Golden Ranger.

    “0,” the dark man mumbled, tilting his head to see a darkened figure standing before him. “I need the neurotoxin…let me take it.” He heard his request laughed at, and felt the Ranger’s hands bend down, taking the syringe from the dark man’s grasp. “No…” He groaned, feeling 0’s glove strike hard against the side of his face.

    “SA 06,” 0 muttered, his voice trailing through the darkness. “How nice it is to see you again. Can’t you stand for your guest?” He chuckled at his joke. “It seems you need some assistance though.” 0 looked to the needle, and to the man who required it. “Without this little baby, I am afraid you are going to die soon. Your body can’t take the strain you are being bombarded with. I wish you would just sleep instead of prolonging your nightmares. It’s only going to make it worse when you do finally have to sleep.”

    “Give me the damned neurotoxin!” the weakening man roared, using the last of his strength up in an effort to obtain it. He extended his legs, grabbing 0’s feet, and jerked, forcing the Golden Ranger to lose his balance. He could hear his heart pounding in his ears as he reached for the syringe, feeling it in his slowly numbing fingers. Rushing, because he was running out of time, the dark man found the vein in the dark, and drove the needle deep into his skin. He pressed on the button on the side of the needle, and felt as the serum flooded through his veins, coursing through his body. He sighed in relief, as his body returned to normal, his vision cleared, and he regained his balance.

    “Why do you have to keep trying to kill me?” he demanded loudly, throwing his foot out to kick 0’s stomach. The Ranger didn’t make a single sound, though it probably didn’t hurt underneath all the armor he wore, and climbed back to his feet. “You know I need that formula to live now!” The man couldn’t see the Ranger’s face, but he knew he must have been beaming.

    “Your reliance on that drug will get you killed one day,” 0 retorted, waving his arm indifferently. The man ignored him, adjusting to the darkness of the room. “You should wean yourself off it soon if you wish to continue your life. One day you won’t have that with you, and the time will tick down, and your body will collapse into a coma.”

    “Let me worry about my own well-being,” the other answered stubbornly, “and you worry about yours. Now, what the hell are you doing here? I thought I made it perfectly clear that I don’t need you here. It’s just a terrorist threat. That’s just basic training, especially for me. I can handle this on my own, without you.”

    “PKM says differently, SA 06, and that is who we both answer to. That is what has been decided, and that is why I am here. Your only order is to obey my commands as the superior agent.”

    “Bull,” the young man snapped back.

    “SA 06?”

    “What?”

    “Let’s just get to work.”

    “Fine.” The man and the Ranger walked towards the balcony, 0 opening the sliding glass door leading outside. The man looked at Pikachu, who nodded and remained where it was, standing guard. It would leave later, to follow the target in the man’s absence. The man closed the door behind him, and turned to the dark city that spread before him. He looked towards 0, who’s body was still shrouded in darkness.

    “Use the SA Cart,” 0 ordered, feeling the man’s gaze on him. “I don’t want civilians identifying you. We need to maintain a low profile here.”

    The man shook his head. “I’m not using the Cart unless the target’s life is in danger. I can just use the grapple gun and a mask. Before we go, I’m going to change into my work clothes. I hate suits.” 0 nodded, and the man returned inside, noticing that his Pokemon was already gone, working in its assignment. He walked into the bedroom, stripping off the suit quickly, leaving him in nothing but socks, boxers, and a wife beater shirt. He reached into his suitcase, pulling out a shirt and some pants, and shoved them on. As an afterthought, the man reached down to take the coat from inside, and attached the pair of combat boots sitting next to him, lacing up and ready. When he was finished dressing, the man made certain that he had his communicator with him, along with the SA Cart, and put a black ski mask on over his face, which would serve to mask his identity in the streets.

    “Now for the tools,” he muttered, putting the gun he had concealed in his suit down, and taking from inside the suitcase a pair of strange black gloves, which reached to his forearms. Placing them on, he loaded the grapple cables inside them, knowing that it was highly unlikely that 0 would consent to taking a cab to the Contest center. 0 liked to do things the dangerous way. Finished, and having taken only two minutes, the man returned to the veranda, where 0 stood. He had not moved an inch since the man had left. “Ready to go?” The Golden Ranger nodded, and wordlessly jumped off the balcony, plunging to the streets below. The man waited a second, before he followed, leaping off in a single bound, the bright lights flashing before his eyes as he plummeted downwards.

    The man was already bored, diving down head first, as he moved one of his grapple gloves up, firing through a palm activated trigger one of the cables. It latched onto a nearby building, and the man waited for the jerk, adjusting his weight so he fell at an angle rather than straight down. As the cable’s tow stopped, he felt the jerk as he began to move forward, swinging like an Aipom with a vine through two narrow buildings. As he passed the arc, and started moving upwards, he detached the cable he had released, letting it wind back into his glove, while the second one was already aimed and firing at another grapple point. The man didn’t see 0 as he continued, the Golden Ranger was probably moving at a much faster pace towards the center than he was. The man shrugged it away, focusing solely on his next grapple shot.

    It took him about five minutes to reach the Contest center. He waited, landing hard on the concrete ceiling of the center, slowing himself down by grasping at high-points, and lowering himself carefully so as not to break any bones. In the shadows, near a fire escape door, his commander was waiting for him, the general shape of his body visible, but the details shrouded in darkness. The man saw the slight glimmer of gold in the darkness, and headed for it.

    “Open the door,” 0 ordered, pointing to the escape opening. The man nodded, and pulled out a small set of keys from his pocket, which he had been given at the beginning of the assignment. He put the first one in, and was lucky, because the key turned, and the hatch opened. The man opened the door, and waited for 0 to go inside first, before entering, shutting the door behind him and locking it, so no one would know they had been there. “I will disable the cameras,” the Ranger murmured, lifting his head to look around. So far, they hadn’t been spotted, and the agents wanted to keep it that way. The Golden Ranger reached to his belt, pulling out some kind of transmitter, and switched it on. Static shot from it, and the other man covered his ears at the brief, beginning noise, before it was quiet once more. “Electronic systems are jammed within a hundred meter radius of the transmitter.”

    “Hey.” 0 stopped, and turned back to SA 06. “Do you think you could morph back from the spandex? You know that your suit makes me sick. Plus, I don’t think it looks very comfortable in that stupid thing. How hot is it in there, really?”

    0 did not answer, and the man did not push the issue. They continued into the darkness, the man’s hand tracing its way along the wall, making sure he didn’t lose where he was. “So, what exactly are we doing here?” the man asked, as the Ranger slowed down, finally stopping altogether.

    0 turned to the second agent. “I do have a face underneath this cowl, rookie,” he said softly, touching the metal helmet that he was wearing. “But the face that hides beneath is not my real face. The true face is my mask, and the face beneath the true mask.” The man groaned, he hated when 0 started quoting books.

    “That makes absolutely no sense,” he retorted, brushing past 0 as he continued. “For once, I wish you wouldn’t bug the hell out of me. And what are we doing here? I checked everything out earlier today. Nothing lethal in sight.”

    “You will never be a Ranger,” 0 replied, ignoring the man. “Unless you can learn to embrace the mask’s darkness, you will never hope to become what you what to be.” The man stopped ahead of the Ranger, before turning round, fists curled, as the Ranger continued past him through the narrow corridor. “That is why the nightmares come.”

    The man spat at him. “You don’t know anything,” he whispered as the Ranger passed, turning to follow the other man through another door in the center. He could see, below him, the different layers of the center. Through the darkness he saw the cantina he had seen her at, he saw one of the arenas the coordinators fought in. It didn’t have the same feel as earlier, seeming dead and lifeless without the people that ran and shouted through it. “The only thing you understand is what you took from me when you made me one of you.” He felt the anger brimming within his veins, but stopped it, suppressing the rage. “You could never imagine the pain of my loss, what you took from me.”

    0 didn’t turn around. “I took nothing from you, SA 06. The person responsible for your faults and the collapse of your relationship is you. You took from her, and thus, you stole from yourself. She was, or is, a part of you. Your soul mate. Or, rather-” And he turned over to the man, looking him square in the eyes “-she was your soul mate, until you became unable to handle the difficulty of juggling your assignments and your personal life.” He barely spoke, lowering his voice to a whisper, but the dark man that walked behind him could hear every single, solitary word. “You are the real reason for your failed marriage, and that is the fact of the matter. A true agent would have been able to balance both, and keep her in the dark. You are not a true agent.”

    “If I recall correctly,” the man replied, fighting the urge to slam his fist into the back of the stupid visor of his superior agent, “you didn’t give me much of a choice that day. If I recall, you‘re the one who made me do it.”

    “You always have a choice, SA 06,” the Golden Ranger answered, vanishing into the darkness of the center. The man followed, albeit not as well, slinking through the shadows. “The question is, what was the choice you made?”

    “To hate you,” he growled instantly, though 0 refused to answer the threat. The man clenched and unclenched his hands, wanting nothing more than to strangle the egotistical moron. How dare the ******* lecture me, when I am the one who…never mind. When their work was done, and 0 was able, he would deal with his anger in the manner of his choosing. He wondered how much the Ranger armor of PKM protected someone…

    “You hacked into the files like you were ordered to, correct?” 0 asked, breaking the man’s train of thought.

    “I got the job done,” he grunted, nodding his head. “You were briefed at PKM already about the threat and the prior mission objective. Hacking isn’t my strong suit, but I managed to get myself into the Contest. What more do you need?” He didn’t wait for 0 to answer, and flipped out the security badge he had obtained for his match the next day. “Everything’s taken care of at my end.”

    0 nodded. “That’s very good, SA 06.” 0 tilted his head, admiring the arena below him, safely protected by glass. It allowed such a different angle of viewing the match, he could not help but marvel at its ingenuity. “The target, which you have, I presume, set your mouse on, is the primary objective, but there is a secondary condition that I myself must take care of. The target may have originally been to observe the Contest and ensure civilian safety, but an anomaly a spy of ours found suggests the plot is deeper than our target.”

    “What is the anomaly?” the other muttered, focusing on the mission rather than his personal problems, tucking the badge back into his pants pockets.

    0 nodded, continuing. “In addition to May Birch, the primary target’s, concern, we now have to neutralize the bomb threat placed on the Contest. PKM has analyzed the problems associated with a leveling of the center, and has confirmed the fault lines surrounding the building would cause a chain reaction throughout the city.” He paused for a moment, allowing his associate to absorb the information. “Do you understand what we are up against now?”

    He nodded. “I’ve got it,” he replied. The situation was much worse than originally thought. “We look for terrorist devices. Bombs, outside attacks, everything. I will be sticking to the original target. I think the attack, when it comes, will be centered around her somehow. If she, along with the many people here, are assassinated, it will spark an international incident. Hoenn and Sinnoh against Kanto. You know that, right?”

    “May Birch,” 0 answered, placing his hand on his chin. “Perhaps your hypothesis is correct. You always did have high intuition. However, it is strange that every year, you take this assignment, though this is the first time you have competed. Out of all the interesting cases you qualify for, you select this one: guarding May Birch at a Contest. Are your ties not as severed as PKM believes?”

    The man shifted, placing his hands into the pockets of his dark coat, and leaned against the corridor wall. “My connections with her and my friends were severed years ago, 0. You know that. I come here to see my daughter, if only for a few days. It isn’t too much to ask once a year, now is it?”

    “She does not need to know you, SA 06,” 0 murmured, lowering his head to the ground. “The daughter you once had belongs to you no more. She, along with your wife, are part of the past. You are in the present, and nothing can change that.”

    The man chuckled. “Why don’t you try going like I do, without your own flesh and blood knowing who you are?” he retorted, sensing the burning rage returning. “Knowing that she doesn’t even know you exist.” He growled, knowing that 0 wouldn’t answer. The Ranger kept to himself under his mask, reserving his own thoughts. The man felt a jolt of rage. He knew better, but sometimes he wondered if there even was anyone inside the uniform. Whoever, or whatever, 0 had been before he was the Golden Ranger, he wasn’t that person anymore. Time had transformed the Ranger into the spandex that stood before the tall man, turning him into a calculating, battle-hardened machine, incapable of understanding the emotions that the dark man still held inside his heart.

    “It does not matter now,” 0 stated, wanting to change the subject. “What matters right now is the mission, which is more important than whatever lingering feelings you have. They must be held back until the mission is complete. Do not disobey what you what you have been ordered to do.” The man grumbled, but knew the Ranger was right. 0, satisfied that he had made his point across, reached into his utility belt to pull something out. “I have something else that you need to have.” He threw a small, watch-like device to the younger agent. “Put it on.”

    “What’s this?” the second agent asked, staring at the midnight-black watch. It looked expensive, with gold numbers and hands in the circular center. Curious, he put it onto his right hand, where it clamped itself into place, binding both of its sides together. “What does this thing do? It looks like a-”

    “-A transfer medium,” 0 explained. “It’s a prototype from PKM that they designed for me. It cannot be removed by anyone, including its wearer. If you will notice the detail, it contains a small tracking system, which will allow you to switch between systems on it. It has a small button on the side which allows you to track people and communicate with me easier. It also serves a second purpose.”

    The man twisted his wrist, finding that the watch, while it didn’t move, didn’t impede him from moving. It was light, and he could barely feel it on his skin. “What’s the secondary purpose, 0?” he asked, turning his attention to the Ranger. His hand fell to his waist, as he listened.

    “The transfer medium, in addition to acting as a second communicator, will also conserve my powers. PKM has taken into account fatalities with Rangers that serve in the field on a regular basis and, while their technology is destroyed if they fall, the technology is equally difficult to recreate. That in mind, my morpher has become equipped with the ability to be transferred to a secondary agent if I should be killed in action.” He looked towards the other man, who was not moving, but staring at the transfer medium in bewilderment. “Do you understand what that means then, SA 06?”

    He slowly nodded. “PKM standard procedure,” he recited. “Maintain the illusion that a Ranger cannot be defeated. When a Ranger is destroyed, they are combusted along with their weapons and morpher. A new Ranger is then promoted You have just sped up the process in between the two. It means that, if you die, I am going to become a PKM Ranger.” He looked up to the man, giving him a dirty look. “I know what you’re putting in my hands, 0. I’ve done it before.”

    “I know, SA 06,” 0 replied, beginning to walk once more. “I remember well.”

    The man didn’t want to answer, knowing that 0 was just goading him on, but he couldn’t help himself. “I remember how you got me into this crappy job,” he growled, stomping after the Golden Ranger. “If you hadn’t interfered that day, I wouldn’t have-”

    0 lost his patience, swerving back to face his junior agent. “Wouldn’t have what?” he demanded, with such a fierceness that any man less that the other agent would have backed away. “If you hadn’t done what you had to do, your wife would have died, along with you child. If you hadn’t done it, you wouldn’t have realized your destiny. And, if you hadn’t done it, you wouldn’t have become what you were born to be. So tell me, SA 06, what wouldn’t you have become?”

    The other met the Ranger square in the eye. “I wouldn’t have become a stranger to my daughter,” he answered firmly.

    “She isn’t your daughter anymore,” 0 retorted. “She does not know your name.”

    “No one knows my name,” the man answered. “I haven’t had a single day…when I am granted peace from her unknowing face.” He raised his hand, to punch the Ranger, but overcame his primal urges to attack, lowering his arms. He wasn’t proud of who he was, what he had become to protect them. “If I had known what it would cost me in the end, you know I would never have agreed to it.” He lifted his face, looking at the top of 0’s helmet. “But there wasn’t a choice. I had to help those people, because you couldn’t. I remember you gave me a chance to back out, but I had to save them. I didn’t take that choice, did I?”

    He felt the gloved hand rest on his shoulder, and 0 looked up to the second agent. “You had a difficult choice to make. The choice was your own, and you must always bear that.” The dark man nodded, but that didn’t make the pain any easier. “I gave you the choice, to walk away, not to travel down my road of life. You chose to accept the responsibility. Your choice, and what occurred afterwards, are of your own consequence.”

    “I don’t regret saving those people,” he admitted, though he did not meet 0’s gaze. “But had I known, I would never had done it. I didn’t know what I was getting myself into when you gave me that choice, 0!”

    “Really?” 0 perked up his head, highly interested in the statement. “Would you, even if you knew what would happen if you did, and what wouldn’t, take back your choice? Would you rather be a civilian, and your wife and child dead, rather than be an unknown to them when they live? You are being selfish, SA 06, and this conversation is over.” Finished, and his point made, 0 started moving further into the Contest center. Fuming, his anger rising to the boiling point, the man followed, his dark form vanishing into the shadows with the Golden Ranger.
    ________________________

    Which reminds me, this fic is going to have a soundtrack! Every time a new chapter is added, a new song will appear in the first post of this story! Expect two to be added today.
    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...

  8. #8
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    Yay, today just gets better for me with today being my b-day and all! You finally, what it seems to be, continued the story from the one you have posted and deleted a couple of months ago. I hope you update really soon! And I hope that you don't delete this one as well!

    Jemi Rose

  9. #9
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    Sorry I haven't updated. Things have been hectic, but it's finally ready! Enjoy!

    Morph Three- Ultimate Defense: The Dark Man’s Perfect Strategy!

    There wasn’t much he could do in a giant convention. Of course, he could always stop by the booths, but there was nothing he would be interested in. He could go eat, but he wasn’t hungry either. So he kept his head down, as he walked, hoping to be unrecognized in a crowd of strangers. His match was in about ten minutes, so he decided that it was a good idea to start heading to the arena. He heard the false name blaring through the loudspeakers, and sighed, scratching his head. He glanced to Pikachu, who gave a nod of encouragement.

    The communicator in his pants vibrated, so the agent dipped his hand inside to grab it. He flipped open the cell phone-like device, and growled lightly at the caller-ID. He clicked the button, and put the phone to his ear. “What do you want?” he demanded with a dark grumble, as he continued through the crowd.

    “Get her alone,” the dark voice grunted back.

    He stopped briefly, halting the traffic behind him. His hand tightened around the phone. “What do you mean, ‘get her alone?’” he asked, resuming his long stride. He veered off to the left, heading for the arena.

    “I want you to put a tracer on her,” was the response. “Put the tracer in your communicator on her somehow, so we can keep track of her motions. Is that understood, SA 06?”

    “You can’t do this yourself why?” the man retorted stubbornly.

    “Because I want you to do it, SA 06,” answered the Golden Ranger. “Do not question my orders, only follow them. I expect you to be on your guard for danger.”

    The trainer cut the line dead, nodding his head. The little mouse on his shoulder watched him place the communicator into his pocket, and resume his stride, his head trained at the floor. The swirls of the crowd passed before him, but he ignored it, and was in return forgotten by the eyes of others. He noticed a few people staring at him, possibly whispering about his upcoming match, but not enough to cause a public stir. He had a natural talent for blending in with his surroundings, his ability to go anywhere without creating a problem with his work was renowned.

    He lifted his head, and turned to Pikachu, who was simply staring ahead, its beady eyes tracking any potential threats in the area. “We can do this, right?” he asked the Pokemon, who blinked, and turned its head to look at its trainer. It mumbled something to him, and he nodded his head, the grim expression on his face softening. “This isn’t just another assignment, Pi. This one’s with her. I don’t want her hurt.” He chuckled, and lifted his hand to scratch the ears of the yellow mouse. “This is a very conflicting mission, Pi. In more ways in one.” The Pokemon nodded its agreement.

    It only took another minute to find the battle field. His side was surrounded by a crowd of people, all of whom appeared to be some kind of sign or poster or shirt proclaiming the name of his opponent. As he drew nearer, they began to jeer, annoying him to no end. For a moment, he considered having them shocked by Pikachu, but decided against that. Working all night with 0 had drained him significantly, and he hadn’t had any alcohol that morning. He was in perfect condition to fight, but not to be harassed by his opponent’s fans.

    “You’re going down, rookie,” sneered one close by him, a youth of prominent proportions in the mid-section. Likewise, a woman with a sign batted at the air around him, urging him to turn away, to throw the fight, rather than submit to defeat at their favorite’s hands. He took it all in, and dismissed it just as quickly. Insults he could handle, he was used to it in his line of work. Getting worked up for no reason got him nowhere, so he needed to keep calm to a small degree. Eventually, he found his way towards the center of the crowd, his elevator, and took out his identification badge. Pressing a button on the side of the machine, he swiped his card through a scanner, which registered his false name and the Pokemon of his choice. He lifted his head, as the doors opened with a slight whooshing noise, and stepped through. The sounds of her fans followed him, even as he descended down the elevator shaft, which was not, as he had been told prior to the event, soundproof. Apparently hearing the jeers was some sort of psychological torture the creators of the battle field had designed.

    “I wish they would be quiet,” he muttered, watching the door. “It makes things much simpler in the long run. But I suppose she would want to hear her name, right?” The mouse looked at him, and shook its head, muttering to itself. Hearing what it had to say, the man turned to it, his brows contracting around his sunglasses. “Well, I have a right to be hurt, don’t I?” The Pokemon sighed, and terminated the conversation. The trainer pressured it no further, and waited for the double doors to open, admitting him into the arena.

    It was brighter than it seemed from above, the lights adjusted to shine on the two trainer platforms. He walked forward, with an air of completely unconcern hanging over his head, the exact nature he wished to give off to his opponent. She would underestimate him, and she would suffer the consequences. He even yawned, though he was not tired, stretching the arms he had placed in his pockets, as he walked into the arena. He saw her, on the other side, and the pang in his chest started anew, throbbing madly at the sight of her. He controlled himself, taking soft, slow breathes, before he stopped in front of the platform’s end. With a nod to his Pokemon, Pikachu descended from his shoulder to the battlefield below, a metal surface that would be of great use to him.

    He turned to the target and said, in a loud clear voice that trailed over the dregs above him, “Want to get this started?”

    From an undisclosed location in the Contest center, the darkness hung round the warrior called 0 like a heavy shroud, masking him in the pitch-black of his surroundings. He stood, arms folded across his chest, and stared at the monitors before him, overlooking the people through the Contest. Only the glow of the screens cast any light on the Golden Ranger as he traced the people through the center, waiting their every move, waiting for a sign of his adversaries.

    It was amazing, he thought, the capacity for neglect that humans held. He stood in the neglected third floor, something that had even been forgotten by the staff of the building. Not that he minded, of course. The floor had its uses to him after all. It allowed a convenient way to observe his target, and to order around SA 06. He chuckled to himself, watching his personal pet wade through the sea of people, eventually wandering into the elevator that would lead him to his battle. In the silence of the third floor, he watched the approach of his pet’s impending battle.

    He was at peace, completely isolated from anyone else. The darkness that crept through the third floor, its hallways, even the passageways that led up to it, seemed to reflect the inside of the Ranger’s mind. It was dark, mysterious, and silent, a hidden puzzle that none would solve. So, hidden above the battlefields, secluded from the public eye, 0 had made his base of operations with a few machines he had brought with him. Nothing too fancy, just a few machines that tapped into the security cameras, a few devices that came classified from PKM, standard equipment.

    He had a lot of time to think, he noticed, tilting his visor down to stare at the uniform he wore. 0 wore it often, so often in fact that it represented his true self more than his actual body ever had. “My face is my true mask,” he recited, whispering into the void that surrounded him, “and my mask is my true face.” That was the way he had led his life as a Ranger, as the leader of the Rangers. Once, years ago, he had been under the command of 1, Red. But, like many things about him, times had changed since he had become a Ranger.

    He watched, changing the channel he had been viewing, as SA 06 made his way through the crowds, heading for the fourth platform. His expression was one of dejection, certainly, but also of motivation. Some agents could handle complete separation from their attachments, others couldn’t, and SA 06 fit into the latter category. “Perhaps his attachments are not a weakness,” he pondered, scratching his chin with his fingers. “They serve as a reminder to him, it tells him what he had lost in his line of duty.” The memory of loss could often strengthen the resolve of a person, 0 had noted, in his past.

    The Golden Ranger then decided that he did indeed have a lot of time to think.
    ***
    “Oh! Booth babes!”

    May inwardly sighed, watching the influence of her friend Brock work on the impressionable mind of her younger brother. In the years since their travels through Hoenn, May had watched time and time again Max reprimand Brock for his unethical behavior in front of women, normally with a violent ear-tug. But here they were years later, a grown-up Max observing the beautiful women that happened to be adorning a nearby area selling food with Brock, the raging hormones of his teenage years still running rampart through his adult body. So, while Sarah clung to her, May tried to think of a way to keep them away.

    “You guys are perverted,” she murmured, brushing the hair out of her eyes. Max just shrugged, and looked to Brock, who nodded in encouragement. “At least control yourselves until later. I think the party for the winners tonight will have a lot of girls at it.” Max’s eyes perked up at that.

    “Fine,” he replied, resigned to the fate his sister had dealt him. His head drooped for a moment, but he cheered up shortly after. “So, are you nervous?”

    She shook her head. “Not really. After a few years you kind of get used to it.” She took a deep breath, steadying her nerves. “You just need to keep your cool.”

    “If you say so, sis,” he replied, his eyes still firmly trained on the babe booth with Brock. “If you say so…”

    “Hey.” May grabbed his hair, yanking him back into reality. He yelped, and she released him, only to repeat the process on Brock, who simply turned away from the girls rather than screaming in pain. He was too used to being physically injured. “No booth babes for you two. I need you to watch Sarah while I fight.” Max rubbed the offending part of his head, grumbling.

    “Yes, Ms. Birch,” Max retorted sarcastically, rolling his eyes. “You know we will. Ya don’t have to check up on us like this.”

    “That, Max,” May answered, pointing at the scantily-clothed women, “is the exact reason that I have to keep an eye on you. You’re getting worse by the day. Don’t let Brock corrupt you with his unending perverted antics.”

    “Hey!” Brock objected hotly. “What’s with the talking about me like I’m not here?”

    “The point Max-” she answered, firmly ignoring Brock “-is that you guys had better not take Sarah anywhere that would require me to kill you afterwards.”

    “Yes, Ms. Birch,” Max retorted again, rolling his eyes for the second time. “Just win you’re match, okay? Who are you fighting anyway?”

    “Keean Toby,” she answered. “He was at the dinner last night.”

    Brock looked up. “Keean Toby? Was he the guy in the black suit with the Pikachu?” May nodded her head, and he replied, “Never heard of him.”

    May nodded. “You’re not the only one. I looked him up in the tournament roster last night, but I couldn’t find anything except for his name and his Pokemon. No credentials, no family, no nothing. It’s like the guy just turned up out of nowhere. No one on the Internet could tell me anything either.”

    “Really?” Brock scratched his chin, pondering. “Well, if no one knows him, that means you don’t know what tricks he’ll try. Don’t underestimate him, and don’t hold back.” He patted her head, and took Sarah from her, lifting the little girl onto his shoulders.

    She lifted her thumb. “Sure thing, Brock.” She looked up to Sarah, who was busy pulling the big man’s hair, and giggled. “Now, you be a good girl, Sarah, while I go win this thing.” She squeezed her daughter’s hand for a moment, then released her. “Keep these two out of trouble, okay?”

    Sarah nodded, pulling out a small strand of Brock’s hair, causing him to yelp. “Sure thing, Momma.”

    “Kick his butt, May!” Max said. “We’ll be watching in the stands.”

    She grinned. “You got it.”

    She left them then, heading swiftly for the arena. Around her, an assorted crowd of her fans began to gather, shouting encouragement from all sides. She smiled, speaking to a few of them as she passed, but waved away the requests for autographs, explaining that there would be time for that after her victory. When she approached her elevator, she sliced her entry card through the slot, and the doors opened wide to admit her. The crowds cheered, and she waved to them as she walked in, and the doors closed behind her.

    And, as the crowd cheers echoed above her, she waited a while for Keean Toby, who seemed to have either vanished, scared to challenge her, or was waiting for a dramatic entrance. Whichever it was, the giant man showed up moments before the match was to begin, and with a look of utter confidence of victory on his face.

    May watched as her opponent climbed the stairs to face her on the opposite side of the battlefield. Keean Toby didn’t seem nervous, like she was. His motions were perfectly natural, as though he wasn’t concerned in the least about the battle. He simply yawned, and turned to his Pikachu, who nodded its head and leapt from the trainer platform to the ground below, landing easily on the hardened earth of the battle arena. He then stuck his hands into his pockets, and shifted his head to her.

    “Want to get this started?” he asked, in almost a bored tone. May’s heart skipped a beat as she reached to her belt for her Pokeball.

    “You were almost late,” she answered, glaring lightly at him. “Were you trying to get disqualified?” With a small shout, she hurled the ball into the arena. It exploded with a white flash, and from its contents a giant Fire Pokemon emerged, clad in burning flames. It roared, beating its chest, and the Blaziken stared down at Keean Toby’s Pikachu like a small appetizer.

    “If I was,” he retorted, bringing his hand up to his lips, “I certainly wouldn’t tell you.” He turned to the emcee, waiting for the signal to begin the match. “Besides, I like to make dramatic entrances.”

    The emcee, an elderly gentleman with a bald spot so shiny the light refracting from it was causing injury to the above audience. May could hear her own name being shouted by the masses, with advice to maul the unknown challenger. Not a single voice was heard to be screaming Keean Toby’s name, but that didn’t seem to phase the giant man. On the contrary, from the way his grin stuck out from his face, it seemed like he was enjoying being the underdog, because that would make it sweeter if he won.

    If, she reminded herself silently. If he won.

    The emcee raised his hands, and Keean Toby leaned over the side of his platform, like he was trying to get a better view of the battlefield. The moment the emcee’s hands dropped, Keean Toby’s face transformed from a lazy slacker to one of concentration. His teeth gritted, and his brows narrowed above his sunglasses. May took the initiative, ordering a Blaze Kick from her Pokemon. Blaziken nodded, and charged forward, planning to end the fight quickly.

    Keean Toby made no move, and his Pokemon didn’t make a motion, as her Pokemon approached. May grinned, it looked like he was going to be a pushover after all. Then, Keean Toby made a move that, to May, was unprecedented in all the fights she had ever taken part in before.

    He leaned over and shouted, “Kachu, Pi!” The second before Blaziken connected, the mouse vanished. Keean Toby followed up, blaring a second command in gibberish. “Pika, Pi!” His grin broadened, as his Pokemon reemerged behind the Fire Type, and shot out a streak of lightning from its bolt-shaped tail. May didn’t even have time to command her Pokemon to dodge, and the electric attack struck home, smashing into her Pokemon’s right leg, circulating through its system as the yellow Pokemon backed away.

    Keean Toby grinned, and waited for May’s reaction. She glared at him, then the emcee. “So this is what you meant,” she said to him, clenching her hands. This would require an entire rethinking of strategy. Few trainers knew how to converse with their Pokemon in their native tongue, because Pokemon understood human language. But, humans couldn’t exactly understand the Pokemon languages, not without training. Keean Toby grinned, and threw out his fist.

    “That is correct, May Birch,” he answered loudly, before turning to his Pokemon. “Kachu Chu!” Pikachu nodded, and began to ran forward, transforming into a bright yellow streak on the floor. May glanced round, but Pikachu started to circle her Blaziken, moving far too quickly to be tracked by a common trainer. Keean Toby, however, seemed to know exactly where his Pokemon was, because he whistled loudly at the blur. The mouse started to generate friction in its legs, creating a spark sound when its paws hit the floor. May stared frantically, trying to figure out his game. She had no idea what the Pikachu was doing, it was worse than being blind!

    “Blaziken, get out of there!” she shouted, needing breathing room. The Fire Type nodded, leaping boldly from the circle of death. Keean Toby looked up, and smiled.

    Chu!” he roared, pointing at his Pokemon. The moment Blaziken’s legs touched the ground, lightning began to course through the floor. The chicken didn’t have a chance, and was fried to a crisp. Keean Toby flashed his teeth, and his Pokemon stared at the panting Blaziken, as though waiting for the final order to decimate its opponent.

    May had been so absorbed in Keean Toby’s strange fighting style, she hadn’t noticed the cheering had stopped. Her crowd of fans was stunned at the abilities of the stranger, and May looked for the first time to see that her point meter was dropping, while her foe’s was full. He’s using the arena better than I am, she thought, glancing around. The field had changed from the day before, from a harsh earth terrain to a sleek metal surface. His ability to direct attacks that May couldn’t understand aside, Keean Toby had the natural advantage in an arena that conducted electricity; Keean Toby was smarter than he appeared.

    “Hey!” May’s eyes snapped up, to where Keean Toby was standing. “You giving up, May Birch?”

    She shook her head. “No way! I’m just getting warmed up!”

    Keean Toby grunted, in a manner that almost sounded like a dry laugh. “May Birch, you interest me. How’s about I treat you to lunch after the match?”

    She flashed him a smirk. “If you beat me.”

    At this, the crowd surged its approval, and Keean Toby returned his attention to the battle at hand. Contests were not his specialty, but he knew how to fight, no matter what the territory was. He glanced briefly at the clock, noticing that he had only a minute or so left. The emcee was blabbering about something, possibly commending the boldness of his attack, but he didn’t care. Now was not the time for praise. “Pikachu Pi! Kachu Chu!” His Pokemon nodded, bracing itself for its next attack.

    May thought hard, trying to figure out a weak link in Keean Toby’s strategy. It was flawless, perfect. She couldn’t understand him, only the Pikachu could. Blaziken could understand common speech in the Pokemon languages, so it could be assumed that Keean Toby was using some form of code, even in the Pokemon tongue. He’s much smarter than I am, she thought. While Keean Toby had attacked her twice, she hadn’t scored a hit. And, with another attack imminent, she needed time to think.

    Time she didn’t have.

    “Blaziken, Agility!” she ordered, deciding the fight rather than cowardly wait to lose. Her Pokemon darted forward, burning a trail through the sparking floor. “Now, Sky Uppercut!” Blaziken’s right fist came up, burning with white light. Pikachu sat there, perfectly willing to wait for whatever punishment the Fighting Type was preparing to administer. It wasn’t until the very last second, again, that Pikachu moved, dodging to the right. Blaziken tried to strike it still, but the injury in its right leg still pained it. Pikachu dropped its tail to the floor, slicing the ground with an Iron Tail attack. The bolt tail caught onto May’s Pokemon’s leg, and it lost its balance, falling flat on its face to the ground. Keean Toby grinned, watching the final seconds count down. When the final bell rang, he smiled briefly, as the crowd erupted into cheers, though he attributed it more to the fact that he had won lunch with May than his actual victory.

    “LADIES AND GENTLEMEN, THE WINNER, AND FINALIST AGAINST DREW SHUU…IS KEEAN TOBY!” roared the emcee, but Keean Toby wasn’t interested in what the old coot was saying. He shouted his Pokemon’s name, and the mouse leapt up from the ground, climbing up to where its trainer stood, arms folded. He was beaming, grinning wildly.

    “May Birch!” he shouted over the crowd. “How about we get that lunch?”

    May was far too stunned with what had just occurred. Keean Toby had decimated her so quickly that the time limit that seemed so long in her other battles had gone by surprisingly fast on the other end of the spectrum. He had done it with such a simple strategy too, commanding his Pokemon in a manner that couldn’t be understood by his opponent. It gave him a permanent edge of surprise. “So that’s what he meant,” she mumbled, sinking her head against her chest.

    “May Birch!” he shouted again, this time gaining her attention. She looked up, and he softened his face into a smile. “How’s about we grab that lunch?”

    She sighed. A bet was a bet, after all. “Sure,” she answered quietly. “Meet me upstairs.” She turned to her Pokemon, raised the little ball in her hand to recall it. Blaziken was noticeably dejected, and quickly vanished in the puff of crimson light. He nodded in response, bowing his body lightly. With that, he turned round, and began to walk towards his elevator. May grudgingly walked towards her own, pressing the button a second time to open the machine.

    It wasn’t the loss, not at all, which got to her. Only the ease that she had lost ate at her, and she would make a point to ask him exactly how he had managed to master his Pokemon’s language. Exiting the elevator, she waited for him to come to her.
    ***
    He exited the elevator to a stunned crowd of the target’s fans, all of whom appeared very angry at him, but didn’t seem to have the nerve to do anything to him. Still clutching their signs with her picture, they watched as he bluntly ignored them, heading for the other side of the arena, where she was waiting for him, leaned against the machine. She was disappointed, she had a right to be, having lost in such a humiliating way to such a humiliating strategy. But he did not care. All that mattered was that, at the end of his mission, the promotion to Special Agent status would be terminated. 0 would be highly displeased, clearly the Golden Ranger had been hoping to keep him an SA to increase the chances of him being promoted to full Ranger status one day. Over his dead body.

    He stopped about a foot ahead of her, allowing her a moment more to contemplate her loss. Then, she did something he did not expect, raising out her arm. “Great match,” she said, congratulating him on his victory. Awkwardly, he raised his hand as well, accepting her handshake. “You creamed me.”

    “Not too badly,” he answered calmly, releasing her arm. “You lasted the time limit. Most people don’t last ten seconds with me. You are to be congratulated.” The crowd whooped and hollered in a manner he had seen practiced a few times in barns back in Orre, which mildly distracted him from his objective.

    “Uh…” May glanced around, seeing nothing but cameras and eager faces. “Do you guys think we could have some privacy?” she asked the paparazzi. As one, the group shook their head, and she sighed.

    “I’ve got this,” he muttered, whistling loudly. At once, his Pikachu started to charge up electricity. “I will make this very simple, paparazzi.” He turned to the crowd, all of whom were staring at the mouse with caution. “If you are not gone within five seconds, I will order my Pikachu to send several thousand volts through your bodies.” He arched his eyebrows, as the group had not scattered. “One…two…three…” As he counted down, the group spread, disappearing quickly. “Five.” Pikachu unleashed a single bolt, frying the one fan boy who had the nerve to defy him. She giggled, and watched as the guy wobbled away, sobbing to himself. “Let’s go.”

    “Sure thing,” she answered, smiling. “It’ll be a nice change, normally I have to leave a region to get some peace and quiet from them.” She sighed, shaking her head. “You’re lucky, no one knows who you are.”

    He nodded, putting his hands in his pockets. “Kachu,” he murmured to his Pokemon, who nodded its head. Pikachu darted off his shoulder, and vanished into the crowd. “Thought we should have some privacy, even if it’s only for a little while.” She nodded her approval, and they wandered around the convention, finally coming up on a decent restaurant, a nice Kanto café. He opened the door for her gently, as he didn’t want to break anything, and followed her inside after sweeping the area in front of the restaurant for paparazzi. Pikachu would take them out if they dared approach, but it never hurt to double-check.

    It was a quiet place, with soothing, peaceful music playing in the background. The dark man followed the lady to the back of the café, to a private booth. He settled himself in, and found it a bit cramped, though he made do. The coordinator, on the other hand, easily slipped into her side of the table. A waitress appeared moments later, on cue, to deliver menus to the two. The agent waved his away, but the lady took hers.

    The waitress, clad in her shirt and skirt, bowed and left, allowing them time to decide what they wanted. The lady glanced at her menu briefly, before she set it aside and looked to him. “So, tell me about yourself,” she said, resting her hands on the table.

    “Excuse me?”

    She chuckled again, he was an odd one. “Tell me about Keean Toby,” she replied playfully. “You asked me out, so I get to ask about you. That’s the rule.”

    “Well…I’m from Orre,” he answered slowly, choosing his words very carefully so as not to contradict anything he might have said before. “I have one Pokemon, and my favorite drink is beer. I used to have a wife, but now I don’t.” He counted these items off on his fingers. “I think that’s it… How about you? Tell me about you.”

    She leered at him, grinning devilishly. “Well…Mr. Keean Toby, I’m pretty average too, by today’s standards. I’m from Hoenn, and I have quite a few Pokemon. My favorite drink is cola, but I also like tea. And I had a husband, but now I don’t.” Like him, she counted off her fingers. “Plus, I have a daughter Sarah.”

    The waitress returned quickly, noticing that both seemed to have made their decisions. “Have you made your selections?” she asked. May nodded, and handed her menu back to the young lady, who tucked it under her arm. “What’ll it be?”

    “I’d like some green tea please,” May replied politely. The waitress wrote down the order, then turned to the man, who was tapping his hands on the table.

    “And for you, sir?”

    He looked up, and grinned. “I’d like a beer, if that’s not too much trouble.”

    Her eyes widened slightly. “This early in the afternoon?” she asked. He nodded politely, and she wrote it down in her small notebook. “Okay, one green tea and one beer. Those should be out for you in a moment.” She bowed again, then caught herself. The lady, recognizing the glint in the waitress’ eye, groaned inwardly. “Hey, you’re…”

    “Yes…” she murmured, lowering her head.

    The waitress’ eyes shot wide open. “Can I, like, have your autograph,” she asked eagerly, holding out her notebook and her pen to the famous coordinator. She sighed, but took the book from the waitress anyway.

    “Sorry,” she told the waitress, “it’s just that after so many times doing this, it starts to get a little old.” The waitress nodded, and apologized, but the lady shook away the apology with a brush of her hand. “Being famous isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.” She smiled, and scribbled her name down on the pad before handing it back to the waitress.

    She took the notebook away, and bowed a third time before disappearing to get their orders. “Nice kid,” he muttered, chuckling. “Bit of a blond, though the color’s gotta be fake.” She laughed, agreeing with him.

    She came back a minute later, holding a steamy mug of water with a tea bag on the saucer in one hand and a bottle of cold beer in the other. They thanked her, and settled in with their respective drinks. It wasn’t bad, thought the man, sipping on his beer, listening to her stories. It was actually pleasant, a nice distraction from what he was there to do. He didn’t talk much about himself, there wasn’t much really to tell, and not much that he was really allowed tell her.

    His phone vibrated, and jerked him away from their talk. He sighed, and took it out of his pocket. He groaned inwardly at the caller-ID. “Sorry, I’ve got to take this,” he muttered, excusing himself from the table. “Be right back.” He stood up from the table, and headed for the bathroom, vanishing down the corridor and into the room. He ignored the smell in the room, which bore a vague resemblance to some strange flower. “Talk.”

    0’s voice seemed rushed. “SA 06, we have a problem.” No wonder, thought the man, leaning against the wall.

    “I’m with the target now. What’s the situation?” he asked.

    “I have received word from our sources that a bomb has been detected within the vicinity of the target. The origin is unknown, but it is safe to assume that it will be used on her.”

    The agent nodded. “Details. What’s it look like?”

    “Unknown. But tiny, not particularly large. Search for small objects around the target.”

    “Got it.” He shut off the communicator, and exited the bathroom. He tucked the phone inside his pocket and put on his most cheerful face, which was without a doubt his most Herculean feat. He didn’t do cheerful very often. He sat down at the table and looked it over, searching for anything suspicious. But there was nothing out of the ordinary. Just his beer, and her tea.

    “Hey.” He looked up, snapped out of his scanning mode. “You alright?” she asked, a look of concern on her face. “Who called? Was it bad?”

    He shook his head. “Nobody important,” he answered truthfully. “Just a work thing, nothing that big.” He sniffed the air, detecting something odd. “How’s your tea?”

    She took a sip of the green tea. “It’s not too bad,” she replied. “It’s got a kind of weird taste to it, but it’s not bad.”

    “May I try some?” he asked, setting down his beer. “I’ve always wanted to try green tea before.”

    She nodded, and held out the mug. “Certainly,” she said. “But not too much.”

    He chuckled. “Of course.” He raised the cup to his lips, and pretended to drink, pursing his mouth. He sniffed the surface, detecting the strange scent he had noticed earlier. The vague smell of sulfur. And, within the small tea bag, a slight blinking device that was speeding up.

    He tossed it, smashing it against the wall just as the bomb detonated.

    The dark man lunged forward, grabbing onto her with both of her arms, and throwing her on the floor, shielding her with his body. The explosion rocketed through the café, sending smoke everywhere. Around him, he could hear children screaming, men crying out in pain as the impacts struck them, and women running away for fear. Blaring into his ear, the target’s shouts of confusion burned a hole in his mind, weakening his concentration. When the last fragments of the blast fell to the floor, clattering against the tiled floor, he lifted his head, turning to the booth they had been sitting in.

    “Miss Birch,” he whispered, so only she could hear, “get everyone out of here. I shall try to see what is going on.” Scared, but not letting it get the best of her, she nodded her head, and crawled out from underneath his frame. He watched as she hustled the injured out of the café, and turned his attention to the hole that had formed in the center of the wall, where a person was entering. And the agent had a sneaky suspicion he wasn’t from the maintenance department.

    It was a spandex.

    Well…not exactly a spandex. It didn’t seem to have the same costume as the spandexes that PKM had created. This one, rather than having its color on its chest and visor, was clad entirely in black, with an ivory circle embedded into its chest. Its head turned, staring from the decimation it had created to the dark man, whose hand was reaching into his pocket, pulling out a silver phone from his pants, along with a small cartridge.

    “What are you?” the dark man demanded. The spandex-wannabe glanced at him with apparent indifference. “Answer me!”

    It took a step forward. “Where is May Birch? Tell me, idiot, and I may allow you to live.” The trainer grinned, taking a step of his own.

    “First off,” he said, lifting the hand with his phone, “I’m not an idiot. And secondly, Miss Birch doesn’t seem to be any of your concern. Can I help you?”

    The thing almost seemed to smile, underneath its dark visor, before it blurred before the dark man, smashing its fist deep into his gut. The dark man chocked, then felt his feet leave the ground for a split second, before he smashed into the wall, sinking to the wall amidst the falling debris. The thing, its attention once again focused upon its quarry, began to walk out of the diner and into the world beyond.

    He was not amused.

    “0!” he roared, bursting out of the rubble that surrounded him. “Get your *** down here and do something about this!”

    The phone rang, and he jammed it to his ear. “What do you think you are doing?” the Golden Ranger hissed, blaring into his eardrums. “Finish it!”

    “How? It’s not like I do the damn pose!” He ran to the ruined door, and watched the thing make its way though the crowds, apparently requiring no directions to reach wherever she was hiding. “Get down here!”

    “Do it yourself, SA 06,” he retorted. “What do you think the cartridge is for? An accessory? Do it!”

    He levered the cartridge towards the phone as the line went dead, and the communicator opened up as if commanded, exposing a containment unit for the cart to be slipped inside. “You’ve got to be kidding,” he muttered, as his hands moved against his will, fitting the device into the com-link. “I’ve got to do this again?”

    He had a choice to not do it. He didn’t take it.

    “It’s morphin’ time!” he roared, firmly slamming the phone shut. It started flashing, binding him with a suit of armor. It seemed strange to him that a suit of armor would materialize anywhere, much less upon him, but he had done it before, and was adjusted to the strange transition that accompanied it. Silver and black armor clad his form, the same color as the SA Cart. A silver helmet covered his head, with a black visor masking his eyes with a thin line just barely visible. Black gloves and boots covered his hands and feet, with the rest of the uniform being pure gray, save for the ebony belt.

    “Transformation complete,” he muttered, rushing forward the second the light died down. The suit’s visor instantly got to work, operating on overdrive to detect the opponent. “Suit, scan for the target.” The suit did so, locating by way of heat sensor’s the exact place that she was being trampled by dozens of others eager to escape the building. Sweat formed on his brow, the suit was rather warm, as he rushed through the crowds. They parted easily, despite the easily visible identification on his back that read in bolded letters he was from PKM, and he burst through them.

    “Pikachu, where is it?” he demanded, opening the channels of communication for his Pokemon. It responded in an instant, telling him that the thing was only a few yards away from her location. He sped up, utilizing the strange gears and propulsion systems used in the SA uniform’s legs to press on.

    And there it was. She, on the floor, terrified out of her mind, and the thing, holding up a sharp black knife above her head. He increased his speed, watching the knife fall…and reached his arms out to stop it.

    He grabbed the arm of the thing, just before the knife impaled itself in her skull, hunched over in rage. “You are under arrest for pyromaniacs, explosions, and attempted murder,” he said, as the thing strained against his grip. “You have the right to remain silent, anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law. You have the right to an attorney, if you cannot afford one, one will be appointed for you.” He lifted his head, his visor staring into the darkness of his foe’s costume. “Do you understand these rights as I have read them to you?”

    In response, the thing attacked him, giving him the impression that it not only understood, but that is also didn’t care. It tried to break his grip on its arm, and slashed at the SA uniform he wore. He dodged quickly, ducking under the blow, knowing that even the armor the SA uniform provided him would be cut under his opponent’s dagger. It slashed at him, attempting to decapitate him.

    But the young agent had not gotten to where he was by being a slacker, and easily avoided the attacks. He drew the thing away from her, forcing it to deal with him rather than her. By now, most of the center was away, and he could hear police sirens outside, though the fat pigs wouldn’t come anywhere near the inside. 0, with all his expertise, would have already finished telling them to remain outside as backup, and that a PKM agent was already on the scene.

    “Hey, 0,” he muttered through the communicator in the suit. “What are the rules?”

    “None,” answered a crackled voice. “Dispose of the body in the manner that suits you best.”

    He grinned beneath the mask. “Got it.”

    He grabbed the thing by its arm, and very calmly, but very forcefully, tore the knife from its hand, throwing it away. It embedded itself into the wall, and the dark trainer followed up his attack, smashing his fists into its head, downing it in two blows. His breath was ragged, watching its body fall to the ground, and cease moving. His hand was still extended, until he noticed her again, and returned it to his side.

    “In a few moments, the police will come,” he muttered, his voice reverting to monotone. He still needed to preserve the false identity he had given her. “You need to get out of here before then.” He extended his arm to her. “I will help you.”

    She sat there, crouched on the floor, staring up at her silver savior. Tentatively, she reached up with a shaking hand, touching the gloves that masked the man’s hands. “W-what is that?” she asked with a quivering voice, looking towards the thing that lay on the ground.

    “I do not know,” he answered as best he could. “It was after you. Do you know why?” She shook her head in response, but her knees gave in, and she fell lightly, only to be caught by the silver warrior, who held her gently in his arms. “In a few moments, the people will return with their forces. You need to be gone from here before then, or else it will only be worse for you.” He noticed her weight shift around his arms. “Can you stand?” he asked her, and she nodded delicately.

    “Who are you?” she asked him, her savior. His head turned away for a moment, then he looked at her again, and he knew she could feel the sadness that came from him in waves, radiating from his body like an aura.

    “Mommy?” Both of them turned, surprised that a third person would be present, and turned to see the little girl with the pigtails, whose eyes were full of tears. “Mommy?” she asked again, Sarah Birch’s eyes full of confusion. She shook lightly, and the silver agent released the woman in his arms, allowing her to comfort her child. Besides, he thought, it would hardly be a good thing for a child to see her mother being held by a stranger wearing a mask, even the stranger who had saved her mother’s life.

    “She is fine, little one,” he whispered hoarsely, his breath growing ragged. His heart rate was increasing, which was strange considering the threat had been neutralized. He watched the mother and daughter hold one another, standing apart. Then he coughed slightly, prompting their attention. Both turned towards him, with glowing eyes, and he felt the space in his chest throb. “We need to leave. Now. They will be here in moments, and we need to get away by then.”

    “Mommy’s okay, right?” the little girl asked, unsure of the strangers words.

    He nodded, straightening himself. “She will be fine,” he promised the little girl, tilting his head downwards to stare into her coal black eyes. Her trembling face and his faceless visor looked into each other. “If you will let me, I will get you both out of here.” He glanced to the side, hearing voices, and the sounds of footsteps, and jerked back towards the girls. “Let’s go!” He extended his hand to the woman, who took it carefully, and ran for it, hurrying away from the entrances and towards the exits.

    For just a moment, when he touched her hand, he remembered the times before the uniform, before he began hiding from her. But he brushed the memories aside, and rushed onwards. Thankfully, he got them out in time to avoid the masses that spread into the convention center, dodging the people that fled into the center. Through the communications in the visor, he heard 0’s voice saying something, but it was blotted out of his mind, replaced by the urge to get her to safety.

    He made it to the elevator that he and 0 had used earlier that morning, raising his communicator and issuing a command. “Open,” he ordered the lift, and the door opened automatically. He jumped in, beckoning the others inside. They leapt to join him without question. “Close.” The doors shut on command, and the elevator whirled to life. He watched her cling to the child, and released his grip on her hand, as there was no longer any need to hold it.

    “Pikachu, take us to level three,” he ordered privately, using the secondary communicator to speak solely with his Pokemon. He heard it squeak in response, and his stomach jerked as the elevator rose. He waited, motionless, until the dim glow of the center faded away into total darkness, and it grew to a slow halt.

    Then the trio plunged into total darkness.
    ***
    “Hello?” May asked, blinking repeatedly. She couldn’t see anything, not her daughter, not her mysterious savior, not even the nose on her face. The faint breathing of her silver hero had ceased, she could sense him standing only a foot away from her, waiting for the elevator doors to open. The door hissed as it opened, and he stepped through quickly, sure of his footing. “Excuse me.” The footsteps stopped, and May took a tentative step forward, hesitating briefly before she left the elevator, her hand securely attached to her daughter’s. “Where are we?”

    “Somewhere safe,” the silver warrior answered carefully, masked in the darkness that surrounded him. He touched her shoulder as she approached him, remembering that she could not see through the dark as he could. She was guided by the man forward, towards several sets of glowing screens yards away, in front of which another masked figure was waiting, arms crossed and face crestfallen.

    “0,” her savior started, but the second figure held up his hand, and the rescuer fell silent. The man called 0 took several steps forward to where they were standing, and slapped the silver-clad man across his visor. May’s rescuer jerked his face to the side for a moment, but then turned himself back to his superior, staring down at 0 with a contempt that May felt radiating through the air.

    “SA 06,” 0 retorted in a low hiss, his distain evident through the impatience in his tone. “I demand to know what they are doing here.” He turned his head, glancing May and Sarah up and down, sizing them up. “This violates protocol, SA 06. Bringing a target to the base of operations unless a dire need is present is a direct violation of the rulebook.” He took a step forward, leaning his head up to the junior agent so that barely an inch of air separated their visors.

    SA 06, as he had been called by 0, was apparently in no mood for any of the other agent’s garbage. “The public was preparing to compromise our position, 0,” he protested calmly, trying as best he could to hide the hatred in his tone. “Weren’t you paying attention to what was happening downstairs, 0, or were you fine with watching a real agent handle things for once?”

    0 betrayed nothing in his voice. “The threat was already neutralized,” he stated calmly, turning back to his computers. “The only threats are the police that cannot even maintain law and order in this facility.” He jerked his thumb backwards, pointing at Sarah and May. “You have jeopardized yourself by bringing the two of them here.” SA 06 felt a strange jerk on his uniform, and noticed the little girl hiding behind his uniform, clearly afraid of the darkened gold 0 wore. May joined her daughter, siding with the silver savior.

    “You’re wrong,” the other snapped, turning his head to May, who nodded her head in encouragement, despite being unsure of what all was going on. “If you feel that strongly about it, I can use my Eraser on both of them to make them forget about this place.”

    0 nodded his head. “Afterwards, remove them from the scene. Leave no traces.”

    “E-excuse me.” Both men turned to May Birch, who had taken her daughter in her arms, very confused. “Could you please explain what’s happening here, and what just happened downstairs?”

    The one called 0 shook his head, while SA 06 took something out of his belt, a small stick-like object. “You are a target of an unknown terrorist organization, May Birch,” he answered mechanically. “The being that attacked you has been detained, but is probably not the only one of its kind looking for you. If necessary, we have reason to believe they will kill you.” He lowered his gaze down, to the little girl. “And you as well.”

    “Mommy?” Sarah asked, looking up to May.

    “You will both be fine,” he continued, looking to SA 06, who had prepared the device for use. “In a moment, we will be taking you back to your hotel room, where you will awaken without any memory of this place.” He nodded to the silver agent, who approached them, his hands holding the stick up to their eyes. It wasn’t very big, only a little bit taller than his palm, with a red, glowing ‘eye’ at the end. “Are you ready?”

    May shivered, but nodded her head. She glanced from one to the other, from the one who gave the orders to the one that followed them. SA 06 did not hesitate, but from his still movements she could sense that he was reluctant to follow the orders he had been given. “Who are you?” she asked suddenly, right before the bright flash.

    “We are PKM,” she heard, as the flash of light engulfed her senses. “We will be protecting you.” What she found odd was that the voice did not belong to either SA 06 or 0. It was warm, and oddly comforting. It was familiar, and it warmed her heart.

    It was his voice. Though it was hazy, it sounded just like him. The voice of the dark warrior.
    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...

  10. #10
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    I find some of the titles like "Golden Ranger" slightly corny but you make up for it in excellent writting!

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    Mmm.... Ash as an alcoholic...again....
    Great, I like it more that AH. Keep it up, Power Shot!
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    Wow, this is........FREAKING AWESOME!

    Man, you write a good fic, keep up the good work!

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    Here's a spoiler! I'm sorry for so many delays, but I'm almost done! Making a movie takes time out of a man's life!

    He took a step forward, and noticed a hole in the third floor that led down into the world below. “Pikachu,” he said, raising his black morpher to his lips. “To me!” He heard a scampering behind him, as the mouse leapt up to join its trainer, perched directly on his shoulder. He looked to it, his heart racing. “Pi…” His throat was dry, so he took a deep breath. “We’ve got to do it again, Pi. We have to save them.” It nodded, and leapt down to face him. “Pi, this time there won’t be any going back. You’ll be…” He lowered his head, looking straight at the mouse. “Will you become my Morphing Spirit again? Will you fuse with me once more?”

    Pikachu knew that its trainer, if he had a choice, would never allow it to do this. But it also knew that he didn’t, and that there wasn’t really a question in his mind that it wouldn’t do it. It looked around, saying a silent goodbye to the life that it would leave behind forever, before grinning. It thumped its chest, and nodded, lightning crackling from its tail one last time. “Pi!” it shouted, staring at its trainer with its resolve. “Pikachu!”

    He nodded, and pulled out the silver communicator and the SA Cart. He dropped them to the ground, and smashed them into dust, taking his new watch communicator and pointing it at his Pokemon. It whirled to life, detecting the Pokemon in front of it. “…Pokemon detected…” it murmured. “…Please press the red button for capture…”
    Last edited by Power Shot; 29th April 2007 at 9:32 PM.
    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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    Quote Originally Posted by Power Shot View Post
    Here's a spoiler! I'm sorry for so many delays, but I'm almost done! Making a movie takes time out of a man's life!
    Wow, simply amazing. Can't wait for the new chappy!

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    Quote Originally Posted by Dragonzard View Post
    I find some of the titles like "Golden Ranger" slightly corny but you make up for it in excellent writting!
    I you ever watched Power Rangers Zeo, you'd get it.

    Keep it up, PowerShot!
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    Here's a link to something you guys might like. It's the music video from my movie, though the camera we took it on was horrible. It's got some Might Morphin' ROT-C Ranger action, straight from my movie!

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TrEORcsd4HE

    The chapter might be finished within a week. I have Prom this weekend.
    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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    ...OH GOD.

    This fic is such an epic blend of my first two major fandoms that how can I not love it? I feel gloriously nerdy today.

    Aside from that, great stuff PS. It's really well writen and blends the two fandoms together. At first, especially when reading After Hoenn, I wasn't sure how I felt about a darker Ash. I like him though; you've managed to pull it off well, and this is definitely how I'd imagine he might be like should he fail at being PokeMaster for whatever reason.

    One big thing I like about this one, though, is your use of Pikachu. He's a vital part of Ash, so I feel like using him is critical to his character. I'll be waiting for your next chapter.

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    Pikachu's first time in the spotlight, I felt he was underused in AH. That was why I expanded him, and he becomes a very critical part in the story right about... now.

    Morph Four- Donning the Mask: It’s Morphin’ Time!

    He watched her through her window, still clad in the silver uniform that he had worn to rescue her. On his shoulder, his Pokemon chirped at him, and he shrugged. “0 told me to take her to the hotel,” he answered, pulling out a set of binoculars from his belt. “He didn’t say come back, so I’ll leave when I’m ready.”

    He had been there for an hour, ever since he had snuck in through her hotel room window. She was resting peacefully, though she would sometimes twitch in her sleep. The little girl, Sarah, was in bed with her, snuggled calmly against her mother’s body. He sighed, and just watched them sleep.

    Suddenly, the mother shot up, eyes wide with fright. Her lips moved as she called out for someone, and his eyes widened in surprise as he read what she said. He watched as her head swung around in the darkness, clearly confused as to where she was. He suppressed his grin, considering that she looked pretty cute terrified. She always had. Only difference from then and now was that he couldn’t wrap his arms round her and protect her.

    It was pitch-black in her room, but darkness was a handicap the agent had long ago dealt with. His target, however, squinted for quite some time before becoming adjusted to the shadows. She was breathing heavily, scared. He didn’t blame her. He had only erased the time between seeing 0 and his promise to watch over her. The rest was there. The explosion, and his uniform. He had decided against deleting everything. It would leave her without a way to defend herself. She would be on guard now, all the warning he was allowed to give her.

    She stood up from the bed, her eyes gazing tenderly toward her child. Sarah was at peace, resting comfortably underneath the covers, her thumb tucked safely into her mouth. She softened, and walked around the room. Her hands lowered onto the phone, and her hands dialed the lobby. He watched her speak for several minutes before she hung up, sighing in relief. Must have been about Max and Brock. Neither of them had died, though both had sustained fairly serious, but treatable, wounds.

    She stopped by the bedside, and brushed away her daughter’s hair. His eyes widened underneath his visor, and he pressed the binoculars into his eyes. He glanced to his Pokemon, who nodded solemnly. “0 said nothing about interaction either.”

    He collapsed the binoculars and stored them into his belt. He reached for a small grapple gun and aimed for the balcony of her hotel room. He pulled the trigger, and a long coil burst from the gun, striking hard in the steel of the wall. He detached the rope, winding it along the edge of his lookout point. “Pi, head back to the Contest Center, and see how we’re doing. I’ll be back soon.” The Pokemon nodded, and vanished into the darkened night. The agent grabbed onto the rope, and jumped off the building, sliding down the coil to her balcony. He felt a slight warmth on his fingers from the rope, but ignored it. Under him, the lights of the night had come on, displaying a wide variety of signs and cars.

    He landed on the balcony with a small thud, and his rope detached from the metal surface of the wall. He wound it up, though it took some time, and placed it into his grapple gun. Behind him, the sound of the sliding glass door alerted him to the fact that he was no longer alone. He didn’t turn around, but waited for her to walk out onto the balcony. She had seen him from inside her room. “Hello,” she murmured, with a slight note of fear in her voice.

    “Hi,” he replied carefully, placing the gun away, and leaning against the wall, firmly staring at the building he had just come from. She approached him from his left side, her stride careful.

    “A-are you the man from earlier today?” she asked, and her eyes trailed over his uniform. He folded his arms, but nodded his helmet. “Thank you.”

    He remained silent for a time. Her voice was soft and calm, an exact opposite what ran rampart through the dark man’s mind. It was difficult to maintain his composure around her. “It was nothing,” he answered her. “I just did what I had to do.”

    She rested herself against the wall beside him, though her head was tilted to watch his. Every fiber of his body wanted to turn to her, to touch her, even in the SA uniform, but he resisted, and forced his arms to stay folded against his chest. “Thank you for watching over me and my daughter.” She glanced back at her daughter’s sleeping form. “She always needs someone to look after her.”

    He did not look back at her daughter. “It is my duty to protect you. That protection extends to your daughter, May Birch.” He stopped suddenly, as her arms wound their way around his own, and he felt her head rest against his shoulder. “My orders are to keep you safe.”

    “Your orders…?” She glanced up at him, a look of confusion in her eyes. “What is going on?”

    “That information is classified.”

    “Classified?”

    “It means I cannot tell you.”

    “Why?”

    He sighed, and bent his head. “It would place more danger on you, and your daughter. Knowledge is power. Until then, please protect yourself as best you can. I can only do so much.”

    She nodded. “Of course,” she replied. Then, a thought entered her mind, and she looked up to him. “Hey, can I ask you something?”

    “If it does not violate my orders.”

    “Who are you beneath that mask?”

    “Nobody.” That was the definition of a PKM agent. “This suit is designed to protect me from anyone knowing who I am. I am a nobody, just a protector.”

    She nodded. “Of course,” she replied again. “Did you ever have a name?”

    “I did,” he answered. “Before I was an agent, I used to have a name. It was lost the day I joined, along with the face beneath this mask. I used to be very happy, before I became part of this. I used to be.”

    “It sounds terrible,” the lady said, snuggling closer to him. “Why do you stay in it, then, if it cost you your happiness?”

    He moved for the first time, and tilted to glance down at her. She looked up into his dark visor. “There is someone more important then my happiness,” he answered. “Someone that I sacrificed that happiness for. It is terrible, but it was a choice that I made of my free will. And it is worth it sometimes, when I remember that I was able to save that person.”

    She sighed, gazing up into his mask. “Do you ever wonder if that person thought that your happiness was worth it?”

    “I do not know the answer to that question,” he said, and returned his gaze towards the building in front of him. “People change. I have changed. How they change is the reflection of their choices. In the end, I would never be able to answer for that person like that. I’d like to think that person is the same as when I saved them, but I will never know. I do not exist anymore. I am a nobody.”

    She shook her head into his shoulder. “You’re not a nobody,” she murmured. “You’re our hero.”

    He straightened himself, pulling away from her. “Do not be so quick to judge me. I wear a mask, my shield against my true self.” He turned back to her, pulling out the grapple gun from his belt. “Never judge a book by its cover.”

    He aimed, and fired the cord against a building in the distance. It latched, and he grabbed the robe, jumping onto the balcony’s edge. “It was nice talking to you,” she said behind his back.

    He didn’t look back. “I will be continuing my surveillance of you elsewhere. I may have already alerted other parties to this location.” He lied, knowing that anyone after her already knew where she was. The truth, that he couldn’t bear the pain weighing in his chest any longer, was probably best kept confidential.

    “I’ll be seeing you, May Birch,” he finished, before he jumped down from the building. He heard a slight gasp from the balcony, but he was far away before too long. He descended in an arc, propelled by his momentum. The wind rushed around his helmet, and his monitor showed the coordinates he should take, which would lead him back to the Contest center.

    “I’ll be seeing you,” he muttered to himself, before he lost himself within the swings and leaps that accompanied his mode of transportation.
    ***
    The dark man entered the Center the next day, and everything was as it was. He passed the area he had had drinks with the target, and noticed that it was closed due to faulty wiring. PKM had worked fast, he thought, and glanced over the ruined space. No one else seemed to notice it, he saw, looking over the crowd of strangers. Something had changed in the sea of people he swam through. For one, some looked at him, whispering amongst each other in low voices. They were talking about his win the previous day, hushed murmurs that ceased the moment he spotted them. The crowd seemed to part away from him, allowing him the space to move freely.

    The official story that PKM had circulated was an electric over-surge. Everyone had bought it, at least after they had lost their memories. Erasers were truly remarkable instruments, capable of deleting anything inside a person’s brain. Usage of them was, of course, strictly limited, but he tucked his own onto his pocket, just in case.

    Today was business as usual at the Center. Both he and 0 had made certain that tracers were now in place to determine any potential threats, and the tracker that he had placed on the target’s Pokeball would be invaluable. For now, however, he had to go to a battle…or a Contest, whatever it was they were called. Either way, he was scheduled to lose. He didn’t want the glory of the victor’s crown. That part of his life had ended some time ago.

    His final battle would take place in the second arena, so that was where he headed, ignoring the blatant stares of the crowd. On his shoulder, his Pokemon was hard at work, sniffing around to be certain that everything was all right. Its nose was far more powerful than most of the sensors anyway.

    “Anything yet?” he asked it, but it shook its head, murmuring something to him. “Well, give it some time. Most terrorists don’t give up on the first try.” Pikachu nodded, then squeaked to him again, asking about the night before. He groaned lightly in response. “Nothing happened, Pi. We just...talked. I gave her a little heads up on what’s going on so we don’t have to protect her to an extreme. She’ll be on her guard.”

    He terminated the conversation, and straightened out his dark leather jacket. “I packed too much gold,” he murmured, ruffling out the shirt he was wearing. “I think it gives 0 ideas.” Thought it wasn’t official protocol, more often than not Rangers themselves wore their color even in civvies. And for some reason, all civilian gear assigned to him kept coming up with some bit of gold in it when he was assigned away from PKM. He sighed. “Better than if they gave me blue I suppose.” His name had come up more than once in papers for filling the vacant Blue Ranger position. His excuses were terrible, often running the lines of the fact that blue simply was not his color, or that he wasn’t a big fan of the number 2. But so far they had kept him out of a spandex.

    Before the match, the organizers had organized some kind of publicity stunt for the photographers and the cameramen. He spotted his opponent, Drew Shuu, flexing and posing already for the cameras. The boastful cries from his opponent were incredibly annoying, thought the dark man, as he stepped up onto the platform.

    The judge, the old man from the day before, was shouting out the name Keean Toby into the crowd, and they booed. Again. He sighed, and shrugged his shoulders.

    He noticed a microphone shoved under his nose, and glanced at the judge. “We were wondering whether you’d like to answer some questions from the crowd,” he explained.

    “No.” He glanced at his opponent, who seemed to have lost all of his focus by staring at a rose. “Talk is cheap. Actions speak louder than words, after all. So, if my opponent wishes to make any statements, or the crowd wants to, how’s about doing in in combat, where it matters?”

    The crowd shouted its approval of the statement, while Drew looked as though he had just been slapped. His face became flustered, and he started ranting, but the dark man simply tuned him out, and enjoyed the fact that Drew was only getting angrier. Pikachu copied its trainer.

    “You’re…you’re going down!” he finished, pointing his rose at the trainer. “You hear me?”

    “No,” he murmured, just so that Drew could hear him.

    The judge, slightly forcibly, took the microphone away from the green-haired man, who fumed for the rest of the introductions. Then, the semifinalists who had not gotten into the finals stepped up. Hikari beamed alongside the other who, while disappointed, played the crowd well, and threw her support to him.

    One of the audience members, a beefy otaku, asked a question. “What do you think of the match today, May? Who do you think will emerge the winner?” he inquired with a nasally voice.

    She just laughed. “Well,” she answered, glancing at the dark man. “I think both have great chances today, but I really think that Keean Toby will come out on top. His impressive strategies, and his quick thinking, despite the fact that he’s not well-known by the Coordinator community, make him the best choice.”

    Drew’s face turned bright purple with suppressed rage.

    “And what about Drew?”

    She grinned, and looked towards the man. “If he can put away his rose and concentrate, he just might have a chance.” The crowd erupted into laughter.

    Beside himself, the dark man chuckled, covering his mouth with his hand to suppress his laughter.
    ***
    May Birch noticed that, the moment the pre-match insult fest ended, Keean Toby ducked away, vanishing into the swirl of reporters and fans. She looked around, and finally spotted his fleeing figure well away from the crowd, heading in the direction of the Orre cantina she had met him in. She turned to Drew, whose face was still bright crimson. “I’m gonna go with him. He’s kind of flaky, and I’ll make sure that he makes the Contest.”

    Drew just grunted, and turned away from her to a crowd of fan girls that had gathered around him. Smirking, May dove through the paparazzi horde like a pro, ducking past the fan boys and their questions, until she reached the giant shape of Keean Toby. She reached up, and gave him a sharp tap on his left shoulder. He turned around, just as she dodged to the right, confused. Shaking his head, he jerked as she surprised him, standing in front of him with her hands on her hips.

    “You planning on ditching?” she asked.

    He shook his head. “Just getting something to drink. I haven’t had anything all day, and I think some beer would hit the spot right before a big fight.”

    “Is beer all you drink?” May inquired, cocking a brow.

    He nodded. “I like the taste,” he replied, before he resumed his stroll. She picked up the pace, as his massive strides covered more ground than her legs could, and started walking by his side. Strangely, when she was with him, she noticed that fewer otaku bothered her, and the few with the guts to turned away at the sight of Keean Toby.

    “Hey.” Keean Toby looked down towards her, and glanced to the right. She followed his vision, and saw what appeared to be a large, hairy man with a camera staring at them. “Looks like a nerd wants some shots of you, Ms. Birch. Whatever shall we do?”

    “Let’s ditch him,” she suggested, and Keean Toby nodded his approval. He took her hand, and ducked into the swirling masses that surrounded them. The large man jerked out of his hiding spot in confusion, and scanned the vicinity for them. Meanwhile, Keean Toby led May away into the sea surrounding them, both wanting nothing more than to simply find someplace quiet to relax before the match.

    They resurfaced in what appeared to be a small bookstore. Keean Toby was amazed. The Center appeared to have everything a person could possibly want out of an event like this, though further reflection reminded him that this was such a huge event it would be more unlikely for it to have every kind of ware that could be brought under its roof. The patrons inside were very confused, some concerned, as the two bolted inside and slammed the doors shut, trapping the dreaded paparazzi out of the store.

    May felt tired, her face was red from the chase, breathing sighs of relief. Lately, she had been going to a gym specifically for the dodging the paparazzi, most of whom were out of shape in comparison to her. She leaned herself against Keean Toby to steady her body. “Well, that was fun,” she muttered dryly, and giggled.

    Keean Toby softened his face, his mouth almost formed a smile. “If you say so, Ms. Birch,” he remarked, and helped her to her feet. “It probably wouldn’t be a good thing for the Contest for someone to be trampled to death. Bad publicity.”

    May, as she was helped by Keean Toby, couldn’t help but notice that she spent a lot of time staring at him. His tanned, muscled body, probably from whatever training he had undergone in Orre. The giant mesh of ebony hair that shot everywhere and nowhere, covering everything above his nose on his face. She felt his hands lift her to her feet, and marveled at how they contradicted his fierce appearance. They were hardened, certainly, but with a touch of softness that May had felt somewhere before, she sensed that, but could not remember where.

    “Where do you work out?” she asked.

    He tilted his head as if in confusion, then chuckled. “An after-effect of my training,” he replied. “I don’t have much to do, so I tend to do what I can to stay active. Pi and I work out a lot, and train for various Contests and matches. That’s how we earn our keep.”

    She almost blushed at him. “It-it really suits you,” she stammered, doing her very best not to stare.

    “Thank you for the compliment,” he said, rather awkwardly, and fell silent. He wanted to change the subject, so he pointed outside the door and feigned a grin. “So, how long have you been fighting those idiots? I’m an unknown, so I wouldn’t know how it feels to be hounded day and night by those lunatics.”

    “I guess you get used to it after a while,” she answered, “or, at least, you’re supposed to. To this day, I still have to keep a lock on my underwear drawer at home.” Keean Toby laughed, and May blushed, amazed that she had told him that. “Come on, let’s stay here for a while. At least it’s quiet.” She smiled up at him, though she could sense that he knew she was simply distracting him from her statement.

    He nodded, and decided it would be best to forget what she had just told him. “Of course, Ms. Birch,” he said politely, and began to follow her into the bookstore.

    They wandered through the small area, and Keean Toby would sometimes find something entertaining to glance over. He didn’t try to hit on her, which was unprecedented in May’s experience, having gotten so used to the limelight that it was almost unheard of. He would walk behind her, allowing her to lead him anywhere she wanted, but he seemed distant and quiet, as though observing her for some reason. She shrugged off the strange feeling of déj?* vu welling up inside her, and laughed, a genuine giggle rather than the false one that he tried to cover up his real laugh. As a result, he did not notice when a small book came at him and pelted him in the face.

    Keean Toby staggered as he rebounded from the blow, knocking into a few of the shelves as he recomposed himself. He heard the vague buzz of laughter coming from May, and groaned. “This is funny how?” he asked her, rubbing his nose. He winced, feeling a sharp sting from the blow on the bridge of the nose. “It’s not nice to throw stuff at people…”

    May bowed her head in apology. “I’m…so…sorry,” she gasped between giggles, attempting to cover her mouth. “I was trying to…gain your attention…and you looked out of this world. I didn’t mean to knock you down.”

    Keean Toby straightened himself, and saw that he had caught the book in his hands with his reflexes. “Nice you find it funny,” he grumbled. As he rose from where he had bumped into the shelf, a very irritated person, probably the owner, came up towards them, shaking his finger at them. He glared up at Keean Toby particularly, barely taller than the Orre trainer’s chest, but with a moustache that drooped over both sides of his face.

    “Hey!” he shouted, smacking Keean Toby hard on the head, despite their differences in height. “You two young things keep it down! I have things to sell to much nicer people than crazy people who bang into things in my store.”

    Keean Toby said nothing, not used to being reprimanded by people half his size, so May answered for the both of them. “Sorry, mister,” she said, bowing deeply. “My friend and I are trying to find out where your nonfiction section might be. Could you tell us where?”

    The manager snorted, but pointed his finger in a direction to their left. “Over there,” he mumbled, before he pointed his finger right back into the Orre trainer’s stomach. “But keep him away from the merchandise.” He raised his brow. “He looks like a shoplifter.” The manager then left them be.

    Keean Toby grumbled at the bookkeeper‘s back. “Thieves don’t look as good as I do.” He turned back towards May, who was already leading him into the shelves. The bookkeeper shook his head, and muttered something under his breath, before he returned to his stacking.

    Keean Toby tucked the book under his arm and followed her into the store, all the while wondering exactly why May had thrown the book at him. “Hey, why’d you throw this at my head?” he asked, and glanced at the book’s title. “What’s this?”

    May stopped, and her face was tinted with a slight crimson. “It’s just a little something that helped me get through a rough patch in my life. I’ve noticed that you always seem pretty…” She looked up, as though she had trouble placing the word she wanted to use “…lonely. Aside from that Pikachu, I haven’t seen you really speak to anyone outside the Contest.”

    “I like my privacy,” he answered, and tucked the book back under his arm. “I don’t have any friends except for Pi. I’ve been with that Pikachu for a long time, it’s smarter than most people I end up meeting.” He turned to the shelves, and found something that caught his attention.

    “Allow me to return the favor,” he said, and reached up to pluck a small trade back from the book racks. “I’ll give you something to read too then, a book that got me through some tough times as well.” May thanked him, and took the book from his hand. She skimmed over the title, she had never heard of the book before.

    “This is a comic,” she said, flipping through the pages of illustrations.

    Keean Toby chuckled. “Don’t be so quick to judge,” he said, bowing his head. “You may find that you might like it.”

    She smirked, and tucked the book under her arm. “Then I’ll read it,” she promised, and they began to walk to the register to pay for their purchases. “As long as you promise to read my book.”

    “It’s a bet, then.”
    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...

  19. #19
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    ***
    The dark man exited the shop with the lady, confident that that the paparazzi that plagued her had moved on to other people and other events to cover. She had purchased a pair of sunglasses and a small bandana to hide parts of her face, at his suggestion, so she could travel safely through the crowds, or with a little bit more security. The small book he had bought for her was inside her bag, while the book his had received in exchange was tucked under his arm. Both walked now through the crowds, aiming for the arena where his battle would take place. They had over an hour, so there was no rush. They passed through the crowd’s current gentle, as if separated from the world that surrounded them.

    “Is there anyone you would like to see before we go to my match?” he asked her as he stared resiliently at the ground. “Are there any friends or family with you?”

    She nodded. “Actually, I should probably check up on my babysitters.” She giggled, but he retained a straight face. “My daughter’s here, so I have to keep a couple of people around her to make sure she doesn’t get in trouble. She’s really feisty.” Then, her eyes lit up, and he looked towards her, feeling a small pit inside himself grow. “Hey, how’d you like to meet her?”

    He stopped thinking for a moment, and accidentally ran into someone in front of him. He apologized, though the ice-cream soaked man didn’t seem to appreciate it, and turned back to her, suddenly flustered. “M-meet your daughter?” he asked, trying with every portion of his being to control his emotions.

    Even though she found his flustered outburst a little strange, the mother nodded her head. “Her name’s Sarah,” she explained. “I’m sure she’d like you, Keean Toby. You’re a very interesting person.”

    In this perfect moment, one that the agent had been wishing of for the longest time possible, he felt the communicator in his pants vibrate, signaling that the perfectly-timed Agent 0 wanted something. He faced her, his expression bittersweet, and opened the phone, placing it to his ear. “Keean Toby,” he answered with his pseudonym.

    “SA 06,” muttered the dark voice of 0. “Come to the control center immediately. We have a situation.”

    “Got it,” the rookie agent replied, ending the call. “Something’s come up, ma’am. I’m afraid I’m going to have to take a rain check on meeting your daughter.” He stuffed the communicator into his pants.

    “Oh…” Her face drooped slightly, he could tell she was a little disappointed. “Sure.”

    He felt a seething rage, not at her, but at a golden clad individual that was waiting for him, for having to leave. “I’ll try to be back before my match starts. At the very least, I’ll meet up with you all after I beat the tar out of Drew.” He bowed his head, and ducked into the crowd, rushing through the small spaces between people towards the elevator.

    He found the unused elevator quickly, and swiped the entry badge for the Contest through it. The doors opened, and he ducked into them before anyone could spot him, and punched the key for the command center. The doors closed and, to his surprise, he began to move upwards instead of downwards. He grumbled, and assumed that 0 had moved camp with the breach in security that the SA had caused by bringing the target.

    “0!” he roared, the instant the elevator drew to a grinding halt and released him. The gold fighter was in front of him, standing with his arms folded. The dark man wanted nothing more than to punch the golden visor that hid his superior’s face. He settled for grabbing 0 by his shoulders and lifting the Golden Ranger from the ground. “Mind explaining to me why you dragged me away from you, before I rip you apart for it?”

    0 wasn’t phased. “Release me, SA 06, before I make you regret every threat I have endured from you,” he retorted, and threw out his arm, striking the rookie straight in the gut. “Do not be deceived by lures, SA 06. That makes it all the more easier for the fisherman to snatch you.” He shook his head, and watched as the dark man clutched his stomach. “When will you accept that what you want can never be?”

    “Never,” the other growled back as he raised his body angrily, bracing his arms into fists. “Stop trying to make me into a copy of you. I can never be something I despise so.”

    0 stood silently, and waited for the young man to regain his military composure. After a few moments, the rookie calmed down, though the fists were still present. “Tell me something then, SA 06, why are you still an agent, if you hate what you are?”

    “You know why,” he answered cruelly. “You stole my family from me.”

    0 lifted his head. “Then why, SA 06, do you bother to stay here? Even with your…unique ability…you could have easily sworn secrecy and returned to your family. Why do you stay?”

    The dark man fell silent, for the first time, in face of the Ranger. He did not give an answer, and 0 did not press the issue, having made his point quite clearly. “You know that the wheels have already been set in motion. There is nothing either of us can do to change that. Do not fight the chance you have been given to save this world.”

    The dark man looked down at him. “Every time I’ve tried to do anything for myself, you’ve stopped me at every turn. All I ever wanted was to be a Pokemon Master. That was all I ever wanted. To be a Master, and live in peace with my family.”

    “There is no such feeling as peace,” 0 snapped. “There is only the absence of battle. To survive, you must commit yourself to that in this line of work. Now-” 0 turned his back on the agent, and began to lead them to the computer terminals “-we have more important duties to tend to. A report has just been filed, and its urgency cannot be overestimated.”

    “Have the terrorist organizations found the target?” SA 06 asked, grudgingly returning to the work that 0 had out.

    “Correct. Today we received a report from 003 that terrorists have indeed located the target and have the means to destroy both her and this entire facility.” He snapped his fingers, and the computers whirled to life. “This enemy is different from most we’ve encountered, as it is wearing a uniform style similar to the one worn by PKM Rangers.”

    “Another kind of Ranger?” he asked, squinting through the darkness at the screen. “Can you get a visual on him?”

    0 nodded, tapping a part of the screen. Instantly, a dark spot showed up on a map of the Contest Center, along with a red one, presumably the target. The dark one was quickly catching up to the red. “You have the transmitter, correct?”

    The dark man raised his right hand, where the watch remained fastened. “Got it,” he replied. The watch glowed faintly, almost as brightly as the ring on his chain.

    “Good. Keep it with you, and man the communications from here. Should anything happen, you know what to do.” 0 paused, making sure the rookie understood. “Correct?”

    The rookie nodded. “Only until a replacement can be found,” he answered, telling 0 the honest truth. He could not be a Ranger, if 0 died. “I cannot take your place.”

    0 gripped the other man’s shoulders, and shook his head. “I wish it were that simple, rookie. I do.” He removed his arm, and began to walk into the darkness, vanishing into the swirling void that surrounded them. “Goodbye, SA 06.”

    The dark man nodded, and said he would wait for 0’s return, but knew deep down in his heart that this was to be the last time he would hear the Golden Ranger’s voice.

    Even if he didn’t want to admit that.
    ***
    0 was like lightning.

    Fluid and unseen, he passed among the crowds with ease. Like a bolt of lightning, he burst through the sea of people, preferring to keep to the tops of the booths when he could. The ebony shadow hurried, certain that it was only a matter of moments before the terrorists struck again. The computer, before he had left, had shown the sight of the next explosion, and the target was approaching the vicinity of the blast.

    He felt light as a feather as he soared through the rooftops, locating the area through his visor’s computer navigation. He was nearing the terrorist’s domain, where he knew the battle would take place. He had done his homework, and the Golden Ranger had discovered who was behind the attacks. This particular threat was deadly, yes, but not undefeatable. If he could only find the person, who was more of a demolitions expert than physical combatant, it would be a simple matter of disarming and neutralizing the threat. But his mind was on other things, like how the dark ranger the day before had held technology similar to his own. He had sent the specs to be analyzed by PKM, hopefully 003 would have something before a few days.

    He felt no regrets at what he was about to do. The scanner built into his suit had shown him exactly what he was dealing with, and what was waiting for the target. He had said his goodbye to SA 06, and he had meant it. The mission was more important than he, something the Golden Ranger had learned long ago.

    Did he wish it could be different, that there might be another way? Of course he did. The bomb, after all, would harm innocent civilians if he did not stop it. He, on the other hand, was not innocent. The boy, SA 06, knew that well enough. His life had been a hero’s trials, but what right did others have to call him one? Or what right did even he have?

    There was much 0 had told no one. He was the strong, silent type, who shouldered their burdens on themselves, rather than irritating others with their problems. He had seen the boy in his uniform, long ago, and knew that only SA 06 could become the Golden Ranger. The boy had gone through struggles and trials, the same kinds 0 himself had fought through. He had sacrificed everything, and had lost everything in return.

    In the visor’s sensors, he spotted the target, who moved rapidly in the direction of the terrorist. The suit’s systems detected the sulfur in the atmosphere, and found the bomb. Rapidly, he snapped his fingers, and a bright yellow light formed in his hand. Shouting, he hurled it into the ground. It landed just in front of her, creating an explosion that stopped her. RSP was a very useful system, he thought, as the people began to flee. They would only get in the way. Now that she had stopped, he generated the yellow light a second time, leaping from the vendor shops to the ground, his fist smashing into the floor. Electricity coursed through the floor, aimed directly at the nozzles on the ceiling.

    Water rained down from above, the sprinklers fooled by the electric surge into believing that a fire was taking place. People screamed, raising their hands to shield themselves and their clothes from getting wet. They filed out, eager to escape the area. The intercoms came on, urging people not to panic and that technicians were working on the faulty system. People never believed that, thought the Golden Ranger.

    The moment the area was clear, he landed on the ground. 0 sprinted forward, headed directly for the target and her family. To him, nothing else presently matter. The fact that his suit was wet, the knowledge that he could die, everything was irrelevant to him outside the fact that he needed to protect the target and fulfill the mission.

    Then the thing of darkness, which looked so very much like the thing from yesterday, but at the same time was incredibly different, emerged from the chaos, water trickling down its sleeves. There was a white boulder in the center of its chest, and the thin visor it wore was ivory. 0 looked down to its side, where it was carrying a missile launcher, a simply giant one that resembled a bazooka.

    “I am here to kill you,” it hissed, and no one in the area misunderstood what he meant by that. 0 walked in between the family and the dark ranger, his head bent, and his arms braced in a defensive stance.

    “No. No you will not,” the Golden Ranger replied, scanning the potential power of the weapon it wielded. “May Birch, get away from here now. When it is done with me, it will come after you again. Go!” Behind him, he heard the scampering of feet, and knew she had obeyed him.

    The ebony monster was not impressed. “Fine,” it spat, holding up the launcher, “I’ll kill the most powerful Ranger in the PKM, then I’ll go after her!” It held up the launcher, pointing it at the Golden Ranger’s chest. “You’re nothing, Agent 0 of the PKM, compared to us!”

    0 vanished into thin air. The dark ranger spun round, but couldn’t find him. The Golden Ranger appeared moments later, directly in front of his foe. The ebony ranger could practically see the smile in the visor as he struck it with a roundhouse kick. It ducked, barely, and rebounded with a swipe with the launcher. Again, 0 vanished, too fast for the eye to see, and smashed its back, sending it to its feet. “Really?” he asked, folding his arms. “It seems the opposite would be true, dark ranger. Now, who are you working for?”

    The dark ranger was furious, clearly it had been expecting a simple match against the Golden Ranger. It was too confident. But it was also deadly. With a savage roar, it turned, aiming the barrel of the bazooka at the fleeing target. “Time to die!” it cackled savagely.

    0 bowed his head sadly, even as the dark ranger prepared to attack. “We could really use someone with your talents in the PKM,” he murmured, and ran forward.

    “Too bad you guys don’t have a ‘Blow Crap Up’ division,” it retorted, as it squeezed the trigger. “And, as of right now, you have failed to protect your target!”

    The missile burst out in a fiery explosion, roaring. The sound echoed through the center. “One of us,” 0 murmured, though none could hear him, “is worth a million of you. In the PKM, we are never alone.”

    He vanished, blurring to superhuman speeds. The next instant, he was right in front of the missile. He jumped up, soaring for an instant in the air, before he landed directly on the projectile. The missile didn’t even stop, its ballistic force too great to be halted by the momentum of someone landing on it. The Golden Ranger bent his knees, and changed the trajectory of the bomb.

    It was difficult, 0 barely had the ability to move it. He grabbed onto the neck of the missile for added strength, and piloted it upwards. He could not simply smash it into the ceiling, that would be dangerous. So he did the only thing he could think of.

    He started to turn the weapon again, this time so he was flying upside down. He kicked at the missile with his boots, and it turned towards its owner before rocketing forward. Underneath his visor, the Golden Ranger must have been grinning, even in the face of his imminent fate. The dark ranger seemed to be in a sate of panic, as it attempted to run away, to dodge the missile it had just fired.

    “Care for a taste of your own medicine?” 0 growled, roaring over the missile.

    A communication entered his visor, and SA 06’s voice began to roar angrily at him. There was some kind of warning, a demand, but the Golden Ranger ignored the subordinate agent. This is the only way for me. Ahead of him, he noticed the dark monster ducking, and it ran as far away from the impact area 0 was aiming for.

    The bomb struck the ground, creating an explosion that rocked through the center. 0 stretched out his arms as he was blown away. It happened in an instant. 0 was peaceful, and he didn’t feel it as he died. The Golden Ranger simply disappeared amidst the flames and explosions. The suit shredded, destroyed by the burst that not even its powers could protect against, and the Spirit that dwelled within it died with its Ranger. The morpher vanished moments before the rest of him did, and the person known as 0 was lost.

    And yet, the final thoughts of the Golden Ranger were not of his fate. The recordings showed that his last words were for someone else. Someone close to him. Someone he had known for so long, but was still a stranger to.

    Good fortune… The last word, like the Golden Ranger, was forever lost.
    ***
    The dark man roared in anger, smashing into the computer screen with his fist. This wasn’t happening, it couldn’t be possible. But he couldn’t deny that last image on the screen, which had showed the Golden Ranger’s final moments. The Center was destroyed, with a massive crater in the middle. He cursed his own foolishness at having destroyed the computer, which could have shown if there was a life signal, but there was probably none.

    0 was gone.

    He raised his hands to his face, shouting in frustration. His hand, which held the special watch, glowed with golden light, and he cursed violently, forced to watch as slight lightning stripes began to appear along its surface. The morpher was being transferred to him, the proof that 0 was gone. When a Ranger died, their morpher was forfeited to another agent, passed onto the one who held the medium. And, this time, that person was him.

    And it was done. The morpher was attached to him, the last remnant of 0’s will. The trainer had always cursed the Ranger, at how 0 would never force him to do it. And yet, here he was again. He raged within himself, memories swirling like a tsunami. It wasn’t fair, but then again life never was. He would have to do this again, and he would feel the pain anew, the pain of his loss and the pain of his sacrifices.

    He had the choice. Always, always he had the choice. The first choice, which had brought him into the PKM’s fold, and had made him an agent. The second choice, which he had embraced to protect her. And this, the third choice, to leave behind any chance to reclaim his past, and to accept his destiny forever. He glanced down at his right hand, where the morpher glowed in the dim light. 0 had been a soldier to the end. The Ranger had sacrificed himself, just as the agent had. 0 had bought time for her with what little he had to pay with.

    He took a step forward, and noticed a hole in the third floor that led down into the world below. “Pikachu,” he said, raising his black morpher to his lips. “To me!” He heard a scampering behind him, as the mouse leapt up to join its trainer, perched directly on his shoulder. He looked to it, his heart racing. “Pi…” His throat was dry, so he took a deep breath. “We’ve got to do it again, Pi. We have to save them.” It nodded, and leapt down to face him. “Pi, this time there won’t be any going back. You’ll be…” He lowered his head, looking straight at the mouse. “Will you become my Morphing Spirit again? Will you fuse with me once more?”

    Pikachu knew that its trainer, if he had a choice, would never allow it to do this. But it also knew that he didn’t, and that there wasn’t really a question in his mind that it wouldn’t do it. It looked around, saying a silent goodbye to the life that it would leave behind forever, before grinning. It thumped its chest, and nodded, lightning crackling from its tail one last time. “Pi!” it shouted, staring at its trainer with its resolve. “Pikachu!”

    He nodded, and pulled out the silver communicator and the SA Cart. He dropped them to the ground, and smashed them into dust, taking his new watch communicator and pointing it at his Pokemon. It whirled to life, detecting the Pokemon in front of it. “…Pokemon detected…” it murmured. “…Please press the red button for capture…”

    He glanced down at his Pokemon, his Pikachu, who nodded and bowed its head, waiting for the beam. To save their friends, the way they used to in the happier days. “Ready, Pikachu?” he asked, preparing the scanner the second time. This time, it would be permanent, and his Pokemon would never escape from it. Vaguely, he remembered how they had first met, when Pikachu had hated containment of any kind. It wouldn’t even go into its Pokeball. Now both of them would be trapped. Neither he nor his Pokemon would ever escape.

    “Pokemon Analyzer,” he said clearly, pressing the red button on his watch. “Capture Pokemon Spirit!”

    Pikachu stood tall, even as the red light struck its body. It grunted, and watched as its body slowly vanished, contained by the morpher. The dark man tried to look away, but found that he could not, as his first and most powerful Pokemon, his only friend, the one who had stuck by him all these years in the PKM, vanished in front of him, its eyes glimmering in determination as it disappeared into the morpher, leaving behind the world it had roamed forever. The morpher went to work at once, creating a uniform for him to use in battle as the new PKM Golden Ranger.

    “...Confirm Agent for PKM Ranger Mode…” the morpher commanded. “…Please state your Rank and Number…”

    After this, there would be no going back. He knew why it needed his number and rank: to lock the system into his voice, rank, and number so that no one else would ever be able to use the morphers again until he died. That was how the Golden Ranger’s morpher worked, and it did so because 0 himself had designed it that way.

    “Agent Rank- SA 06.”

    This was he needed to do. To save them, he needed to power. To gain the power, he needed to be willing to sacrifice everything to protect those who could not protect themselves. That was what being a Ranger was all about, and he knew that. Serving in PKM meant to protect Pokemon and Mankind, regardless of the cost one paid to do so.

    “Number- Agent 1067.”

    There was no going back. The morpher whirled again, locking the number, rank, and voice into its memory, resetting the systems for a new Golden Ranger. “Agent…accepted…” it replied dully.

    The morpher transformed, its surface shining a sleek gold in replacement of the black. The bolts of lightning that carved over its surface turned dark, clashing against the pure gold color upon his wrist. The preparations were complete for his accession. 0’s plan had been completed.

    He heard the screams downstairs, and took a step forward, standing in front of the hole. “I have no name,” he recited, modifying the words that 0 used to often say. “I am 0, also known as the Golden Ranger.”

    He lifted his morpher to his face, bringing up his other hand so that his finger just grazed the red button. “This will be my curse and destiny.” He pressed the button, using words that he somehow knew as the vocal command to transform. “Golden Spirit!” he roared, pressing down on the switch. “Pokemon Power!”

    A bright flash of gold enveloped him, and he transformed.
    ***
    May screamed for help, tucking Sarah under her arms as she ran. The masked assassin, almost like the one from the day before, yet different, was still coming. It was jet-black, with a white oval in the center of its chest and a white square visor. The people of the Center surged like a sea, all of them panicked and searching for the exit. Some were trampled, while others were neglected. In the giant crater, shattered limbs of the injured lay, groaning in agony.

    “Help!”

    It would be there soon, she was certain of it. It didn’t matter how fast she ran, or how far she got, he would get her. That was how it always was. Even though it held no weapon anymore, it was still dangerous. It was taking out everyone who dared stand against it with simple, quick blows to the neck, sending them falling to the ground, where they laid still and unmoving. “0!” May screamed, her voice rang out as a final resort. Seconds later, it was upon her, as it had spotted her through its visor in the crowd. Sarah was crying, shrieking in fright, but the mother kept moving.

    To stop meant death. Whoever it was that kept pursing her, they were going to kill her if they caught her. Behind her, someone smashed into her back, tripping her. She turned as she fell, trying to shield her child from harm. Her back collided with the floor, and she cried out in pain. Sarah’s tiny arms gripped her in fear, and May opened her eyes to see the dark ranger. In its white visor, she could see her reflected face in its horrified glory.

    “May Birch,” the cold voice whispered, as it pulled back its arm. “I am here to kill you. You and that brat you hold.”

    The Center seemed empty, devoid of anything remotely human. Only the four remained: Brock, May, Sarah, and Max. Both men were afraid, they felt it in their bones, but not once did they show it. They stood proud. Max stood in front of his sister, and Brock stood by his fellow gym leader’s side.

    “This is as far as you go,” Max ordered, taking a small red and white ball from his belt. “No one, whoever they are or how late they are for Halloween, messes with my big sister without going through me!”

    Brock cracked his knuckles, bringing out a Pokeball of his own. “We’ll show you the door,” he murmured, clicking the tiny ball’s switch, causing it to grow.

    Whatever was underneath the ebon mask started cackling at the threat. “That seems all right,” it hissed, chuckling merrily. It didn’t give them time to unleash their Pokemon, rushing forward with both hands raised. It slapped away the silly little balls and, with a quick thrust of its arm, smashed against his chest, dropping him like a fly. Brock’s eyes widened in surprise, before he gasped, the air fleeing from his lungs, and fell soundlessly to the ground, eyes sealed.

    Max stared in shock as his mentor was dropped, then the dark thing turned towards him, kicking the silent body in the chest for good measure. Max stuck the ball back to his belt, and put up his dukes. The monster attacked, though Max fought back, punching it in the helmet. Crippling pain overwhelmed his arm, as the visor he had hit didn’t break. It rammed its fist into his stomach moments later, sending the young man flying back. His head hit the floor, and a pool of blood began to trickle down his face. May tried not to look as tears crept into her eyes. Though he was gone, she cried out the name of the Golden Ranger, desperate.

    “Help me!” she screamed, putting herself in between the dark thing and her daughter. Sarah cried out in terror, her eyes mad with fear. “Someone, please save us!”

    The monster giggled. “No one is coming,” it whispered, turning towards her. It stalked her, like an animal, circling round her in a predator’s stance. Its hands were extended, like claws, eager to tear into her flesh. “No one can save you.”

    “Save me,” May breathed, as it pounced, its hands leading the charge in fists.
    ***
    Golden light struck the center, and blinded everyone inside. The ebony monster screeched in pain, though it did not recoil its fist. It did not, however, connect with the lady. It smashed into something else, something that glowed with a bright flash of light. A moment passed, and the light faded away. It took several seconds for everyone to adjust to the dimmed light, but when they did, they saw that the black ranger wasn’t moving, caught by the grip of a second warrior. Shielding her daughter, the lady opened her eyes carefully, and gasped in shock.

    It was the Golden Ranger.

    The visor revealed nothing, but the growl that echoed from his voice certainly did. “Did you miss me?” he asked. The other, startled by the reemergence of the Ranger, stuttered some vague threat at him, but 0 didn’t give it the second chance to attack. Concentrating his power, 0 delivered a kick that sent the ebony demon flying, and it slammed against the nearby wall of the Center, creating a crack that traveled up the surface. It screamed in agony, but 0 knew it was not done. The scanner built into his visor told him that much, showing the heightening heart rate of his foe. The Golden Ranger ignored his opponent, and turned towards the lady and her daughter, extending his gloved arm. “Are you alright?” His body still glowed with an otherworldly light; he knew that she couldn’t quite see him, but she still grasped his hand, and rose to her feet, careful to support Sarah.

    “0?” she asked, wondering how that was possible. She had just seen him die, blown into pieces in the explosion. “Is it…really you, 0?” Suddenly, she felt her face grow rather hot, and realized that she was blushing. He glanced down at her, the visor scanning for any damage she might have taken. Turning his focus to the daughter, he nodded.

    “I am 0,” he answered, his voice synthesized into the former Ranger’s thanks to the technology that supported the uniform. The voice match within the suit performed the function automatically, so that every time he spoke, it was the former Golden Ranger’s voice. It cast the illusion that a PKM Ranger could never be destroyed, because another always replaced the one before. “I am here to save you.”

    The light softly died down around him, and she breathed in surprise as she received her first true glimpse at the Golden Ranger’s real form.

    His chest was golden, shining brightly in the light the Center gave off from above. The gold was one his gauntlets as well, which stretched to the middle of his forearms, and the covers on the backs of his hands. His boots were golden too, going up to his knees. The visor on the center of his helmet was the same color, fashioned into an upside-down triangle that covered the majority of the facial region.

    Everything else was a wreath of black, from the armored leggings he wore to the gloves on his hands and the protection under his gauntlets and up to his shoulders. His helmet was a crowd of darkness, save for the visor, and completely masked his true identity. The Ranger’s body was rippled with muscle, proof of the hardened years of training that had built up to this moment. The lady’s eyes then trailed to the symbol on his chest, in the direct center of the uniform that he wore.

    It was black, a mouse-shaped image embedded on his chest, stretching from the black-and-gold belt to the tops of his pectorals. A triangular face that stretched upwards, branching eventually into two long ears, before coming down once more to complete the picture, two red cheeks as crimson as blood on either side of the face. It was a Pikachu, the Spirit of the Ranger.

    0 had been reborn.

    And he was ready for combat.

    He turned from her as the costumed assassin appeared again. “Nice of you to come back,” he said, bracing himself into an attack stance. Neither 0 nor the thing expressed nothing from their face, but cracks of electricity burst from the Golden Ranger’s uniform, a nonverbal threat. “I will not allow you to harm the innocent.”

    The murderer laughed. “I kill who I am told to, PKM Ranger,” it replied dully, as it materialized a sword from nowhere. It extended an arm, and a short katana emerged, its surface etched in black color, out of a strange light that it generated from its fingertips. “You hold no power over me and my decisions, so save your sentimental speech for someone who cares to listen.”

    The Golden Ranger glanced at the sword, and clenched his hands. “As you wish,” he answered, and jerked his head back to the woman. “Get yourself and your daughter, and everyone else, out of here. I will handle this.” He needed her out of the way, so that he wouldn’t have to worry about her while he fought.

    To her credit, she was far braver than he would have expected, and nodded. “Come on, baby,” she said, turning to Sarah. The little girl was still staring at the Golden Ranger, afraid, before she allowed herself to be picked up by her mother. Max and Brock both got up, despite the crippling pain, and the four bolted from the scene. 0 faced the dark ranger alone, waiting for it to make its next move.

    “Now,” 0 muttered, cracking his knuckles, “where were we?” The scanner inside his visor operated on overdrive, scanning the sword in the other’s hand. The Ranger uniform that he wore, while state of the art, would not protect him from the blade’s sharp edge. I need a plan, he thought, crouching in preparation for his opponent’s rush.

    In the visor’s screen, a small icon appeared in the shape of a dark mouse. “Welcome 0,” a voice said into the com link. A voice that was high and squeaky, just like a certain mouse that the Ranger knew. “I am your Pokemon Spirit. I am here to assist you.”

    “Is that you, Pi?” 0 asked incredulously, scarcely able to believe it.

    “Correct, 0,” Pikachu replied, its voice barely containing its excitement. “It seems that the suit you are presently in was created by my bond with you. Because of this, I have the ability to communicate with you, my voice translated into your human language for easier use. This should be enjoyable, don’t you agree?”

    “I’m just glad to hear your voice again,” he replied, chuckling. Perhaps it wouldn’t be so bad after all, considering his best friend was still with him. In spirit, anyway. “Now, how’s about we figure out how to deal with the guy with the sword? Got any ideas?”

    “Affirmative.” A screen appeared in the left corner of the visor, which seemed to indicate some sort of program. “Activating Ranger weapons.”

    “What is that?”

    “A new type of combat strategy. A melee or firearm weapon can be directly downloaded from a Ranger’s morpher for easier usage,” Pikachu replied, showing a small weapon icon. “A weapon’s strength is directly proportionate to a Ranger’s bond with their Spirit. The stronger the bond, the stronger the weapon.” It paused, as it would take 0 a little bit of time to sink in the information. “This is a new standard, which was not perfected last time.”

    “Got it,” the Ranger replied. “Activate the melee weapon.” The mouse Pokemon confirmed the order, and a bright light formed into his left palm. A weapon hilt began to take shape, coal black and at least a foot long. He wrapped his fingers along the handle, and watched as a lightning bolt shape began to emerge, as the handle died out, but jutted to the side rapidly, growing into a monstrous zanbato which resembled a fang, but the design, especially in how the back edge was connected to the right side of the hilt, made it look more like part of a curved lightning bolt. The sharp edge of the giant blade was pitch-black, but the remainder was pure gold.

    The dark ranger looked towards the massive, easily six foot long, blade with a wavering that showed in its battle stance. “Are you sure you can even lift that sword?” it mocked, noticing how 0 had yet to lift the blade’s tip from the ground. It swung its own, compact sword above its head.

    Underneath the visor, the Golden Ranger grinned. “Sure I can,” he answered, lifting the massive weapon like a twig. His bond with his Pokemon must have been strong, he thought, running his eyes over the giant blade. “And I’d be willing to bet money that any chance you had of taking me on and winning just shot down the tubes.” He slung the sword over his shoulders, deciding that he probably couldn’t run the way he was holding it. The dark ranger rushed forward, and the Golden Ranger charged.

    0 slashed with the massive sword, forcing the dark ranger to leap above him. The sword swung in a giant arc, and the Golden Ranger continued it into a circle, just barely missing the black thing as it came down behind him. The tiny katana attacked, and 0 lifted his sword like a shield, easily blocking the blow, and deliver a sweep kick to the sword hilt, sending the katana flying behind the dark thing. He reared back his left fist, and smashed into the dark ranger’s visor. The thing stood still for a moment, before it flung back, skidding across the floor.

    It stood up, though it was clearly scared, shivering. “W-what are you?” it asked, radiating fear from his last attack. 0, under his mask, smiled broadly.

    He thought about what it had asked, unsure of how he would answer it. He was a mixture of things, most of which he was not proud of. A liar, a savior, a warrior, and now, a Ranger. He lifted his sword, tilting its edge to the side. “I am a protector,” he decided, before he started to rush forward, “of the people who rely on me.”

    The sword came down, and the Golden Ranger heard the shriek of pain as it slashed through the body of his foe, splitting it in two. He felt as its body crumbled into dust beneath his feet, vanishing into dark powder.

    He had won.
    _________________________________

    I hop everyone enjoyed! I hope to at some point get around to posting the picture of the mighty 0 soon. Review if you 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...

  20. #20
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    Whoa... That chapter totally owned. Ash is "O" now, huh? Sweet. Poor Pikachu... But I'm pretty sure you'll get 'em all out of this whole mess. Great chapter, great story. I'm glag that old "O" is gone now - but he was well written none the less. Great fighing scenes, and the bookshop bit was cute (and funny). One problem - Pikachu's speech patterns seem to greatly resemble those of "O". Is that on purpose?

    Well, I'm on the edge of my seat. Don't stop now! I almost wish I hadn't seen the chapter yet...

  21. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by Power Shot View Post
    Here's a link to something you guys might like. It's the music video from my movie, though the camera we took it on was horrible. It's got some Might Morphin' ROT-C Ranger action, straight from my movie!

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TrEORcsd4HE

    The chapter might be finished within a week. I have Prom this weekend.
    1) I didn't know you were in ROTC.
    2) You have Prom? Hope you and your date enjoy youselves, I'll make sure to be there to get really drunk and talk about personal secrets.
    3) That video was ridiculous.
    4) Update soon, especially with an awesome chapter.
    Il Menestrello:
    Claimer of many songs
    MyAnimeList



    From Pixiv

  22. #22
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    Sorry about the length of time between submissions, life's always hectic with me. Having graduated, my work seems to like eating up my time, plus my lady friend for some reason believes we should spend more time together. I agree with her. However, here is the next installment of PKM Rangers! Leave a review if you can!

    Morph Five- Partners in Justice: Serena the White Ranger!

    0 stood atop a nearby rooftop, and watched through his visor the scene below. Rescue vehicles had been moving in and out of the area on a constant basis, most particularly the fire engines, which needed to be replaced every few hours. The fires were still burning out of the giant crater that made up the Center’s ceiling, licking at the concrete surfaces. The Golden Ranger knew from the transmissions that his helmet was picking up that there were no fatalities, but quite a few people had sustained severe injuries. PKM had not called in reinforcements for him, which suggested that they were not pursuing the matter any further than need be. This time, they would not be able to cover up the story, it was already being exposed by the media. PKM was a secret agency, but only in operations, not public knowledge. Most of the regions knew about the Rangers that PKM implemented in their missions, but the governments of the various regions that employed the agency required it to be kept as best a secret as possible what all it did.

    “That won’t be happening,” 0 muttered to himself, having kept the silence for long enough. So far he hadn’t been spotted by anyone in the streets or on any of the television stations, they were far too busy with the matter of containing the fire in the Center before it spread to other buildings. This story couldn’t just be hushed up. “I’m going to have to explain the circumstances to HQ…great. I hate talking to those windbags.”

    In his hand sat a small device that he had managed to get out of the Center before the media captured his image. It looked akin to his own morpher, but was very much unique in that a single black stone stood in the center of the watch-like device. It was worrying for two reasons: one, it looked exactly like the technology in the PKM Ranger morphers; and two, it meant that someone, somewhere, had the ability to produce Rangers of their own, something that was incredibly dangerous. He had had Pikachu analyze some of the basic components of the morpher, and found that it did not have the same kind of power system. It was alien to anything 0 had ever seen.

    “Agent 0.” The Golden Ranger looked up, and noticed the icon in his visor displayed Pikachu’s marker.

    “Yes, Pi?” he asked.

    “There is a communication coming directly from PKM. I am patching it through to you.”

    “Okay.” One of the more interesting abilities of the suit was the media ability that it had. It could allow him to speak to anyone with a phone or a means of contact, surf the local news channels for anything of interest and, best of all, let him scan for anything he needed in the direct vicinity. The communication link started, and he said, “This is Agent 0,” into the communicator. “What is it?”

    “1076,” came an annoyed voice, probably an old man. It was his superior, one of the old folk that actually managed the agency. “What are you doing in that suit? Where is the real Golden Ranger?”

    0 shifted uncomfortably. That was strange, normally the PKM were always on top of things, information-wise. “The former Agent 0 is a KIA, and the situation required a Ranger. I assumed the mantle in his place.” He took a deep breath. “I am the Golden Ranger now,” he muttered harshly.

    The voice scribbled something down, probably notes for later use, before it returned to speak to him. “Your Ranger status will be determined later,” it ordered. “For now, PKM has decided that you will return to headquarters for evaluation. The Contest has been called off due to the terrorist attacks, our services have been withdrawn from Saffron. Have you anything else?”

    “Yes.” 0 lifted the strange morpher towards his visor. “I confiscated a Ranger morpher from the terrorist that attacked. I’ll be bringing it in for 003 to take a look at.”

    “Very good. You will be given your next assignment at HQ after debriefing.”

    “Okay.” 0 lowered his arm from his visor. “I’ll be back in three days, give or take on the wind.”

    “You have one, 1076.” The line went dead, and 0 pocketed the morpher into a special compartment in his belt.

    “Idiots,” 0 grumbled, raising his right hand, the one with the morpher, to his visor. The golden-black surface reflected back at him, bonded to his uniform. “Only for a few days, Pi, I promise,” he muttered, and hoped he could back up that claim. “Well, we have one day to get there, and it takes twenty hours to fly. What do you recommend, Pi?”

    Pikachu’s little marker showed up on the lower corner of his visor. “Well, I believe we should probably practice using the Golden Ranger powers,” it replied, its voice strangely mechanical. “After all, this time you won simply out of blind luck. Next time, we might have a real problem on our hands if they send people that can match us.”

    “Hey, Pi?”

    “Yes, 0?”

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

    0 could almost hear the relief in his partner’s voice as it returned to normal. “Oh, thank you 0,” it answered with a sigh. “I wasn’t sure exactly what I was supposed to do, so I guess I wanted to play the part of a real Spirit.” It laughed, and the Ranger chuckled.

    “Don’t ever talk like that again, got it?” 0 replied. “I might have to sound like a machine every now and then, but there is no way I’m letting you do it too. Trust me, in a little while we’ll be free of this Ranger uniform, and you’ll be able to run around out here.”

    “Thank you, 0.”

    “Don’t mention it, buddy,” 0 said, before swerving his head away from the wreckage. “Come on, let’s get out of here. Before we leave, we’ll do a sweep of the target and make sure she’s alright, then we’ll head out and check up on the two knuckleheads that thought it would be funny to pick a fight with the dark thing yesterday.”

    “Sounds like a plan,” Pikachu confirmed. It was enjoying the new voice that it had, which was a sort of mechanical mesh of its original one. The suit that it had created, along with the watch, allowed an even better method of communication between trainer and Pokemon. “The fastest way to the target is…” A screen emerged on the visor, a nicely shrunken map of the city. Two dots, one for the hotel and another for the hospital, emerged, with a small spot of yellow to show their current location “…right here.” An arrow began to trace its way to the hotel from the yellow dot.

    0 looked at himself. “I’m going to take off the uniform now,” he said, pressing down the button on his morpher. “Power down!” Golden light flashed, and surrounded him in an almost ethereal glow as the suit began to transform into civilian clothing. The golden chest plate became the dark yellow shirt the dark man wore; the leggings became black pants and the shoulders and arms became a leather jacket and fingerless gloves. The whole process took a grand total of ten seconds, then the light died, and Agent 1076 stood alone on the rooftop, his mesh of black hair hiding his face, all save for the grim look fixed onto his lips. “Let’s get rolling.” His combat boots clunked against cement, and the ring on his chain jingled in the dark night’s light breeze.

    He placed the confiscated morphers into the front pocket of his pants, and took out an earpiece for the morpher. “It’d look weird if I kept talking into a watch,” he explained to Pikachu, who agreed. His Pokemon’s voice in his ears, the Golden Ranger set off in a brisk jog, heading for the fire escape of the building he was on. Underneath his feet, the streets were alive with activity, but he paid them no heed, even as he exited the building and began making his way east. All the while, in the blaze of artificial light, he could think of nothing but the promise she had made to him, to finally meet her daughter.

    He hoped she was alright.
    ***
    May Birch shivered, and drew baby Sarah close to her. The day had been far too tiring for both mother and daughter, and they were scared. It wasn’t often that someone tried to kill them; in fact, neither of them had ever been through anything like it. The dark ranger still haunted their minds with its weapons and its cruel cackle. May drew the blanket tightly against her daughter, a flash of the white visor the thing had for a face leering at her through the darkness, followed by the hiss that it had for a voice.

    0 had saved them, that brought her courage. Inexplicably, because she knew that somehow he had done so, he had risen from the dead once to save their lives twice that day. First, deflecting the missile and the second, in combat. She sighed, burying her face into Sarah’s dark hair. The Golden Ranger amazed her. May, deciding that it would be a good idea, decided to talk to Sarah, for the little girl hadn’t spoken since the police had left them alone in their room.

    “Are you alright, baby?” she whispered to her child, hugging her tightly. “Did the bad man hurt you?”

    The little girl shook her head, and looked up to her mother. “Momma, was that man in black a bad guy?” she asked, shivering. Sarah tucked herself into her mother’s warmth, snuggling her. “Was the man in gold a good guy?”

    May nodded her head. “The man in gold was a Ranger, Sarah,” she replied, and brushed the hair out of her daughter’s face. “They do amazing things for people like you and me. They protect us from the bad guys, like the man in black. The bad man tried to hurt us, but the Golden Ranger beat him up to defend us.”

    “Then why did the man who looked like a Ranger try to hurt Momma?” her daughter asked, her bright eyes fearful. “I don’t want Momma to go to the hospital with Uncle Max and Uncle Brock.”

    May held her child close. “I’m not going anywhere, baby,” she reassured Sarah, and patted her head. Sarah yawned sleepily, and May chuckled. “Why don’t you try to get some sleep, baby? Today was tough, and it’s past your bedtime.”

    Sarah nodded. “Okay, Momma,” she answered. May picked up the little girl, and set her down into the bed. Sarah was a quick sleeper, and instantly curled up into a small ball, tucking her thumb into her mouth. Within moments, May could hear the faint breath of sleep from her daughter, and wished that she could sleep as easily as her daughter did.

    May jumped, as a knock issued on the door, which was followed by a dark whisper. “Hey, it’s me,” a voice said in between pants. It took a moment for May to realize that it was Keean Toby’s, and that he was probably panting from the effort of running from wherever he had come from. She stood up, still clutching the blanket close to her body, for she wasn’t really wearing much underneath it save her pajamas. She crept up to the door, her brown hair trailing across her face, as she unlocked the latch that sealed off the outside world.

    Keean Toby burst open the door, his entire face disorganized, as though he had somehow meshed his hair into something. His mouth was open, drawing deep gulps of air into his lungs. He coughed, tasting what seemed to be his blood in his mouth, and leaned against the door, shutting it tightly. “I…came as soon…as I heard…” he rasped in short breaths. “Are you…all right?”

    For the first time, May reached out, and wrapped her arms around Keean Toby. She buried her face in his broad chest, and a tear slipped from her eye. “Yes… We’re both fine. We got out…just in time.”

    Keean Toby seemed taken aback, for his heart began to beat at a much faster fluctuation. Awkwardly, he reciprocated the action, and enfolded her into his clumsy embrace. “I’m glad for that,” he answered, his voice shaky. “I was very worried when I saw the news. Are you sure you’re both alright?”

    “We’re fine, Mr. Toby.” She felt warm and safe with him. His giant frame seemed to protect her from the darkness of the room. “We’re fine.” She, without even knowing she was doing it, snuggled into his body, pressing herself against him and pressing him against the door, and noticed that she was dressed rather immodestly, and that Keean Toby was blushing. She pulled away, at least so that she was no longer rubbing against him, and looked up at him, and smiled. “Did you do that thing you said you needed to do?”

    He nodded. “I did.” His voice conveyed to her that he really didn’t want to talk about whatever it was he did. “I’m sorry that I couldn’t be there. You were in trouble, and I could have helped out.”

    “There was nothing you could have done,” she answered. “The Golden Ranger saved us though, one of those guys from PKM.”

    “Oh…yeah,” he replied. “I remembered hearing something like that on the news.”

    “Thank you though, for wanting to be there,” she murmured.

    Keean Toby chuckled lightly. “I feel kinda weak right now,” he told her, a sense of relief flooding his veins. “It sucks when you aren’t the guy that saves the day, ya know?” He scratched his head. “I have no idea what I’m saying. Sorry for the blabbering.”

    “It’s okay,” she whispered. Keean Toby looked down at her, then turned his head to see Sarah sleeping peacefully in the bed.

    “Is…that your daughter?” he asked softly. May glanced down briefly, and noticed that his palms were sweating.

    “Yes,” May explained, nodding her head. “She’s baby Sarah.”

    Keean Toby nodded very slowly. “Sarah,” he repeated. “She’s very beautiful.” He glanced at her, and grinned. “Just like her mother.”

    May smiled. “Yeah, that’s baby Sarah. She’ll be a real looker in a few years.”

    “I suppose so,” he answered. Keean Toby smiled, something that genuinely took May by surprise. It was only a facial expression, but to May it seemed so much more. The gentle curve of his mouth brought a soothing peace with it, one whose origin could not be found. “Too bad I can’t meet her, but at least she’s safe. I won’t trouble her by waking her up.” He looked up, and from the window he could still see the wreckage of the center. “Is the Contest being cancelled?”

    May nodded. “The Center was destroyed, and I don’t think they plan on relocating it so quickly. For now, it’s been called off.”

    “Any idea of what you’ll do now?”

    “Well…” May sat down in a chair, sighing, “I was planning on taking a small break from the limelight. So I’ll be heading back to Petalburg, take some R&R with Sarah, that kind of stuff. My brother is the Gym Leader, so I’d be more than welcome back home.” She watched as Keean Toby followed her example, seating himself in a chair opposite her, and placing his feet on the coffee table in front of them.

    “Petalburg,” he repeated in monotone, and she nodded. “I have a friend there.” He grinned, and looked up. “Maybe if I’m in the area, I’ll look you up. For now, it’s best I return to Orre for training again.” His smile faded, and his mask was reset. Keean Toby was a stranger again. “But I promise that I’ll come back soon, okay? For now, just look after your kid, got it?”

    “I know,” she replied, resting her head in her hands. “I just feel really tired right now. Like the whole of me has been utterly spent.”

    Keean Toby smirked. “You’ve never been in a death match before,” he joked. “Orre trainers are a lot tougher than others.” She chuckled, and he decided that was a good sign. “I’d better get going,” he muttered, rising from the chair. Briskly, he headed for the door, but stopped when he felt something hold his hand.

    May tightened her grip on his fingers. “When will I see you again?”

    He turned back to her, and she saw a pained expression pierce through the mask he wore. “Sometime soon,” he answered. He squeezed her fingers suddenly, and released her, ducking out through the door. He was out and gone before May could even blink. The woman pressed herself against the door, almost against her own will, and sighed to herself. There was a dull throb in her chest, one that she could not remember from where, but only that it gave her a chilling sense of déj?* vu.

    She was alone again, all save for baby Sarah, snuggled up in the bed. In a time when she most needed others, she stood alone. Just like three years before, when she had stood without him for the first time. Keean Toby had reawakened something she had not felt for so very long.

    Sighing, May Birch wondered for the millionth time where her dark warrior was.
    ***
    “Agent 0 arriving.”

    The voice that chimed above 0’s head was definitely annoying, with a dull mechanical tone that left the Ranger wondering why PKM never bothered to get equipment for staff that wasn’t made before they were born. The doors that led into PKM opened up, and 0 stepped forward into the secret HQ of PKM. Steam, for some reason, followed him out of the elevator, and he coughed.

    “Baby-chan!” blared a voice to the far left, the exact moment that he chose to set his feet down onto the narrow metal corridor. 0 felt someone grab him roughly, and shove him violently against the floor. He groaned, which didn’t make things any easier, because whoever attacked him took the noise as encouragement, and proceeded to rub against him. 0 grabbed his molester by the long strands of white hair, and groaned again in annoyance.

    Through his hair, he noticed that Agent 3 of the PKM was the one currently entwined around his waist, with her white hair strewn around his body. “Get off me,” he muttered, trying to pry her off. He failed, forgetting that her lithe frame concealed the surprising strength the woman had. “Please get off me. You know exactly how I feel about you tackling me…”

    “And you know how I loooove tackling you, Baby-chan,” the White Ranger, Serena Brine, replied sweetly, grinning at him devilishly with her emerald eyes. “For Pete’s sake, Baby-chan… You know I don’t know my own strength.” She grabbed his wrist, and pinned him to the ground to check out the new communicator he wore. She chuckled like a maniac, and positioned her face only a few inches away from his. “Or should that be sir? Guess you couldn’t keep away from the wonderful feel of spandex after all.”

    “It’s a temp thing,” he answered, and pushed her away. “I want to be demoted as quickly as possible back to my old grade.” He stood up, irritated. Serena knew exactly how to grind his gears. “I’m not a Ranger. You and 0 are.”

    Serena knew how to milk a show. “Pwease…Baby-chan? Pweese be a Ranger for little Serena?”

    0 stood up, and shook his head. “Not going to happen, 3. Now, where’s the Council, so I can get my debriefing over with, and return to the field?” He never liked spending much time at HQ. Serena stood up with him, and he noticed vaguely how much he towered over her. Then again, he reminded himself, she was barely breaking five feet as it was. Without the heels. “Go away.”

    She was too beautiful for an Agent, the small voice in his head that retained the maturity of a teenager noted. She had the body of a model, even though she was short, with long, flowing silver hair and bright emerald eyes. A lithe body as well, hidden by the Ranger uniform she wore: the black jacket, pants, and white shirt with a 3 engraved on the side of her jacket. And she had big boobs, the small voice noted, which were very noticeable in the low-cut shirt.

    “I know you want this, Baby-chan…” she giggled, and laughed at his straight face. “And I don’t just mean my body.” She smacked his chest. “Get off your high horse and take that promotion I heard you found your way into.” Then, without warning, she grabbed his arm, and began to steer him straight through HQ, without waiting for a response from him. 0 tried to jerk away, but strength hid itself well inside his companion’s well-toned body.

    0 groaned. Out of all the people who worked at PKM, out of everyone in Orre, out of everyone in the world in general, why did she always have to pick him? And, since she was a Ranger, he had always had to go along with her orders, considering he had only been a grunt Agent, even though they had started at the same time at PKM. His brain briefly reminded him of every single thing she had done in the name of what she called ‘training’, from bumping into him with her chest to surprising him in the shower of his own room.

    “3, I can find my own way around here,” he protested, planting his feet firmly against the ground. “Get go, 3!”

    And she obeyed, and sent him sprawling to the ground, eliciting another moan from his mouth. Serena always seemed to cause him injuries in some form or shape. “As Agent 1076, temporary Golden Ranger, I order you to calm the hell down, Agent 3.” He didn’t like pulling rank for her, but it seemed the best way to get her to stop. She did so, and allowed him to recompose himself.

    “Pulling rank is a fun toy,” she whispered, grinning madly. “Come on, it’s time for you to see the Council, Baby-chan.”

    “The Council?” he asked. “What for? I thought all I needed was a debriefing and a bunch of forms for a reduction.”

    “Well, you would, if you weren’t a Ranger right now, which means you report directly to the Council now.” 0 followed her, grudgingly, knowing that a meeting with the Council could never be good. “Council wanted me to meet you so that they could summon you for a report on exactly what went down in Saffron.”

    “Just great,” 0 grunted, shoving his hands into his pockets. Still in plainclothes, he hated wearing the PKM uniform, as his was of an annoying color he disliked. The Rangers, though, wore special uniforms, such as the white in Serena’s. 0, if memory served correct, had owned one, though the present Golden Ranger had only seen it once. 1 had had one, as had 2, a while back, before he died. 0 decided it didn’t matter a great deal, and put the colors of the uniforms out of his head, as they neared the Council chambers.

    Serena stopped just before the two giant doors that hid the Council chambers. 0 looked up at both, took in their wrought-iron color, and diverted his attention to a small console on the side that Serena was approaching. The Council, ever the old farts, enjoyed security in the most discreet fashion, and as such had to have the biggest doors in the place. 0 guessed it was some form of reverse psychology to any enemy. He certainly didn’t get the method.

    “Now, for a normal Agent,” Serena explained, and pulled out her Morpher, a white version of his own dark Morpher, “you just swipe a card when you want access to a place. For Rangers, we scan our Morphers into databanks which can confirm our DNA and our designation. So you go like this.”

    She cleared her throat, and placed her Morpher near the screen. “Agent 3, White Ranger.” The screen flashed, and somehow read her Morpher, as it displayed a very detailed sketch of the interior networks of the device.

    “Ranger locked…” the computer droned. “White Ranger is scheduled for appointment. Please verify guest for admission to Council chambers.”

    She turned to him, and gave a smile. “You’re up,” she said, moving away from the machine. “Just repeat what I did, but with your data.”

    “Sounds simply enough.” 0 stepped in front of the machine, and pulled up the sleeve of his leather jacket, exposing the dark Morpher the former 0 had cursed him with. He held it in front of the screen, just as she had done, and did as she did. “Agent 1076, acting Golden Ranger,” he recited carefully. “Also currently under the alias of Agent 0.”

    “Ranger locked…” it repeated, and flashed a detailed description of his Morpher’s blueprints. “Acting Golden Ranger scheduled for debriefing today, with White Ranger as escort.”

    Immediately, the doors began to creak open, the sound irritating the Golden Ranger’s ears. 0 knew the Council’s notoriety for intimidation, and the ploys it used to weaken other Agents who came before it.

    He did not intimidate easily.

    “Agent 1076 may enter the Council chambers, escorted by Agent 3,” the machine droned in monotony, and the doors hissed open to admit them. 0 never liked going to see the Council, debriefings were normally handled by the Intelligence division of PKM. Seeing the old farts always seemed to remind him of the lectures that his mother used to give him, once upon a time ago. The two came to a standstill in the center of the circular room, and looked up to the panel of strangely similar looking old men with varying degrees of gray in their hair. The Council sat ten feet above the people they ruled over, possibly to compensate for something, 0 thought snidely. They were trying to frighten him.

    He did not frighten easily.

    “Agent 1076,” stated the foreman of the Council, who normally spoke to 0 whenever he was summoned to the Council. “You have been brought before the Council to be evaluated on the subject of the past Agent 0, also known as the Golden Ranger, and his passing, as well as your coming into possession of the Morpher that he was issued. There is also the matter of your new temporary rank of Golden Ranger.” 0 noted that, while he spoke, the other old men whispered to themselves, as if judging him. “Do you understand this?”

    The Golden Ranger nodded. “I do.”

    “Agent 3, Serena Brine, has requested to testify at this hearing on your behalf. We shall begin this hearing.” The man shuffled his papers, as if to get things in order, and coughed, as if to get the dust out of his lungs. “You are presently in possession of the Golden Ranger’s morpher. Display it.”

    0 flashed his right wrist, which displayed the dark morpher clearly to the shrouded men. “That’s right. The old man gave them to me right before he died, through PKM tech. I have contained a Pokemon, my Pikachu, as my Ranger Spirit. I was forced to do this under extreme pressure from a terrorist.” He lowered his arm, and took a deep breath. “There was no other option. The situation called for a Ranger, so I became one to properly complete the mission.” He dug into his pockets, and retrieved the evidence from the dark thing that had attacked: a sample of the dust and the morphers. “I also found these artifacts, which are similar to PKM Ranger technology.”

    “Agent 1076?” the voice of the foreman asked.

    “Yep?”

    “Cut the crap right now. The Council knows full well you do not act like this. It will not buy you brownie points to patronize this Council.”

    “Okay,” 0 replied with a cheerful smile. “I’ll cut the crap. I want a reduction back to my old grade, before this mission. I want the Morpher off, I want my Pikachu back into real life instead of the virtual hell it’s stuck in right now, and I want a beer. I do not want to be a Ranger, though.”

    “Those requests are null at this point,” the foreman answered. “The facts are that you cannot be removed from the morphing technology so simply. These morphers that you say you obtain will be handled by Agent 3. Upon transfer to your next assignment, you will hand them over to her for analysis.” Papers ruffled again. “Now, on to the debriefing. Report, 1076.”

    0 took a deep breath. “The assignment I requested was to observe the Contest in Saffron City. I do this once a year, because even I have feelings, and I like to watch my ex and my little girl, if only for a few days.” He lowered his head, and clenched his teeth. “I guess I’m still human, and have human attachments.”

    “Enough sentimental rubbish. Talk.”

    “I infiltrated the Contest under the alias Keean Toby. During that time, I noticed several enemy agents, possibly from other organizations, that began to attack the Contest. For some reason, the former Agent 0 was dispatched to assist me, and I was promoted to the SA class of Agents. During the battle, Agent 0 committed suicide, and I assumed the mantle in order to protect her. I have reason to believe that someone may be planning against her.”

    “We have prepared for that eventuality,” the foreman said. “Because of the terrorist threat, utilizing similar technology to our own, we have decided to use May Birch as bait, as these terrorist rangers seem to be attacking her. To that end, your terms of employment have changed.

    “You will retain your position as the Golden Ranger,” the foreman decreed. “In addition to this, you are assigned to this case due to your information. Your mission will be to obtain additional information on this terrorist organization so that we may properly combat them. You will also protect May Birch.” Then the foreman, who had a grand total of ten teeth that 0 could count, smiled boldly. “And Miss Brine will be assisting you.”

    0 stiffened. “Excuse me?” he asked. “Oh, no no no no no no n-”

    “Yes.”

    0 glanced at Serena, who was beside herself with joy. “If you are successful with your mission,” the foreman lured, “you will receive any reward you can think of, including a reduction or promotion in rank. Until the completion of the mission, however, you will retain the rank of the Golden Ranger.” He glanced at one of the other men, and pointed a finger. “Play the tape transmitted from the former Golden Ranger to the newly appointed Agent 0.”

    0, realizing that he would have absolutely no say in his situation, resigned himself to the fact that he would be shacked up with Serena for an indefinite amount of time, and began to imagine various traps that he would have to organize around his person at resting times. Not to mention camera jamming equipment in the shower. The tape began to play, and 0 heard the dead man’s laugh fill the chamber.

    “You’ve really messed up now, haven’t you boy?” the tape hissed, gloating over him. “I’m glad you finally accepted your responsibilities, it means I can finally have my retirement. Now then, fear not 1076, or should I say 0 now? This state is not permanent. There is a way to reverse the transformation from man to Ranger, and it is located in the Morpher you wear on your arm. But you won’t find it, because you don’t want to be a Ranger, and you must want to be one to become free of the curse.” It cackled. “Live a little, I hear ladies love a man in spandex…”

    The tape stopped, and 0 growled darkly. “The transmission cuts off here,” the foreman said. “Or, rather, the less degrading commentary on the transmission cuts off here. Do you have anything else to say on this matter?”

    0 looked up. “I don’t think it would matter if I did,” he answered.

    “You are correct,” the old man replied swiftly. “Then this matter is settled. You will retain your rank of Agent 0, Golden Ranger, until such time as your mission with Ms. Brine is completed. Congratulations.” He shuffled his papers, and stood up. The remainder of the Council did the same. “This meeting is adjourned.”

    0 didn’t look at Serena, but got the vague impression that she was staring at him. He turned, and bolted from the room at a fast pace. The clattering of shoes behind him told the Golden Ranger that she was following him. “Damn that old man,” he growled, as the doors opened in front of him. “I hope he’s burning in hell.”

    He headed for the one place he could find solitude in the whole of PKM.
    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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    ***
    There was always one place that was peaceful for him.

    0 stopped just short of his personal room, and reached into his pocket to retrieve the card key from his wallet. Serena glanced at it, and 0 kept it close, not wanting to let it fall into her hands. He swiped it through the scanner by the side of the door, and a small green light flashed above the scanner. The door opened, and they stepped inside.

    Immediately after entering the small room, 0 punched a small button, sealing the door behind Serena. He lifted his head, and stared at the simple accommodations that he now called home. He passed through the metal atrium, and the blank walls of his room looked back at him. It was noticeably vacant of any personal items, Serena noted. A desk, a chair, and a bed was all the furniture he had ever bothered to obtain. Underneath the bare bed, which looked more like a cot than anything, was a locker with various clothes. 0 hated all forms of comfort, as he had spent too many years living in the wilderness during his travels. He was more at home on the bare earth than a cozy inn.

    Carelessly, he discarded the golden shirt to his bed. Serena licked her lips at the hardened muscles that clad her fellow Ranger’s body. She also noticed a few bruises that he must have obtained during his last mission. 0 kept his back to her, not wanting to expose his pectorals to the light. “0...” he heard Serena’s voice purr to him, which was followed immediately by her arms slinking around his waist. 0 focused his energy on keeping his footing, but Serena once again proved the strange strength of her tiny body, and tossed him into the bed, landing on top of him. Somehow, she had turned him in midair, and he cursed under his breath.

    Serena moaned, increasing her grasp on his waist. “My, my, Agent 0. Getting a little frisky, aren’t we?” She ground herself against him, all the while maintaining her grin. “I mean, throwing me on your bed like that… You must really want some White Ranger love…”

    0 attempted to remain calm, and retain his composure. “You threw me onto the bed,” he pointed out, forcibly detaching her hands from his waistline. His head was beginning to hurt, he must have hit it against something when they collided with the bed. She stood up, and he remained lying in the bed, a noticeable red tinting his cheeks. “That’s called sexual harassment, 3.”

    She stuck her tongue at her superior. “Wrong, Baby-sir. See, that only works if the person above you is sexually harassing you, not the other way around.” She chuckled, while he just shook his head. “Come on,” she urged, producing a small parcel from behind her back, “I have something for you anyway.”

    “It had better not be handcuffs again.” 0 shuddered, remembering the time she had decided to give him an impromptu lesson on the various usages of handcuffs, one that had forced him to tear apart his bed to release himself. He rubbed the back of his head, where a small bump was forming as a result of his collision with the bed. “If it is, you’re out of here for good.”

    She shook her head, but filed away the idea for future reference. “Even better,” she answered. She tossed him the parcel, and he noticed that the number 0 was printed on the side in gold. “Bakaguru recommended I give this to you. He said that it would make your promotion more official.”

    0 felt the package, it seemed to be light and made of fabric. “Just what is this?” he asked, bouncing it with one hand. “Feels like clothes.”

    “Correct,” Serena answered, and settled herself down onto the chair. “Put it on, you’ll see for yourself.”

    0 sighed. “Okay, but this better not be a trick.” He stood up and tucked the package under his arm. “Be right back.” He walked towards the cramped bathroom to change into the new clothing.

    Serena waited until the bathroom door was shut before she stood up. “Now, where’s his underwear drawer?” she wondered aloud, just loud enough for him to hear her. She heard him sway something off the counter inside the bathroom in response, and her emerald eyes glinted as she giggled. The man had yet to figure out the effect he had on women…

    “What the hell is this?” 0 demanded from the bathroom, having opened the package and removed its contents. “3, there is no way I am wearing this stupid thing!”

    “Put it on!” the White Ranger instructed. “Don’t make me do it for you!” She heard a sigh, and then the ruffle of clothes being removed. 0 must have decided his modesty was worth more than his fashion sense, Serena thought, considering the possibility of simply bursting in on him in the middle of changing clothes, exposing him naked. She resumed her search for anything she could steal from the new Ranger, and looked over to the desk for any clues of the whereabouts of his valuables and delicates.

    Her eyes trailed over it briefly, before settling down on the small frame that was placed face down on the desk. Serena glanced briefly at the bathroom door, which was firmly locked, and curiosity overwhelmed her. She had never seen a personal item of 0’s before. She grabbed the small, wooden frame, and checked out the picture on display beneath the glass. It was 0, in his earlier days, but there were others surrounding him.

    0 was in the center of a crowd of people. To his immediate right was a tall man with jagged black hair and the eyes of a fox who grinned, his arm around 0’s shoulders. To his left was a younger man, probably in his late teens at the time, who wore glasses and patted 0’s head. There was a woman with the fox-eyed man with bright orange hair, with a smile on her face, her azure eyes sparkling. There was a blue haired girl, and an older woman with auburn hair. There was even a tall man in the background with a sketchpad next to an old man with a lab coat. There were many more people, far too many for Serena to look at. She was focused on the fact that 0 happened to be smiling a true, sincere smile, with his arms wrapped against the body of a young woman with bright brown hair and cool blue eyes.

    And in the hands of the woman, a small bundle was wrapped, a little head poking through the fabric with ebony hair, her dark eyes blinking at the bright light around her. Her hair looked exactly like 0’s. Serena felt a lump in her throat, and swallowed it as she stared at the picture.

    “Thanks for waiting.” Serena jumped, like a child caught peeking at a present by their parent. 0 exited the door, dressed in his brand new uniform. He dumped his civilian clothes down onto the bed, and stared at himself in disbelief. It was a PKM uniform, similar to hers, but designed for the Golden Ranger. The pants were black, as was the jacket that he wore, but the shirt was bright gold. On the back, just like her, there was a number, a golden 0. He looked up, and his mouth hardened as he noticed what she was holding. “3...” he muttered, walking towards her. “Put that down.”

    For some reason, she couldn’t, and stood up, pressing the picture against her chest. “No,” she retorted stubbornly. She looked at the woman in the picture again. “Is this her? The one who hurt you?” She held it up, and pointed to it. “Is she the reason?”

    0’s face was blank. “That is the woman that I sacrificed for this, 3,” he answered, lowering his head. “That is our new target, whom we have been assigned to protect. And that-” His throat felt dry as he looked at the bundle in her arms “-is her daughter, Sarah. And people that I called my friends.”

    “I know that,” Serena snapped at him, and tossed the frame back down onto the desk. “So, what’s gonna happen, 0? Did you get this assignment on purpose, so that you could get back with her somehow?” 0 didn’t answer, but sat down onto his cot. Serena continued. “Well, that isn’t going to happen, 0.” Her hand clenched into a fist. “You’re too important to this agency.” You’re too important to me.

    He shook his head. “I don’t want this like you do, 3. I’ve said that for as long as I can remember. I’m here because I have nowhere else to go now.” He looked up at her. “I don’t want to be a Ranger,” he said softly, attempting to control himself. “0 took everything from me. My wife, my friends, and my daughter. Everyone I held dear.” He stood up from the cot, and began to walk towards her, his face hardening into a mask. “You know that feeling just as well as I do, 3.”

    She did, and Serena nodded her head. “I know that I’ve lost people, 0, because I came here.” She grabbed him, and shook him, trying to make him understand. “But I haven’t given up yet. I stayed here, and I don’t regret it.” She felt tears in her eyes. “You know who I lost. You know what we went through.” She smacked his face, and he let her. “Where’s your mark, 0! You carry my scars with you, but where’s the one that ties you to that woman!”

    Her eyes trailed down his chest, to the golden ring that hung on his chain. “I never take it off,” he answered. “That makes it easier to remember exactly why I’m here, and exactly what I lost to protect her.” He felt his chest, where the scars of his past were more easily accessible underneath his uniform. “I bear your scars too, 3, only the one I carry for my past weighs more heavily on my heart.” He glanced at the morpher on his wrist. “Drop it, because I am not in the mood for any guilt trips today. I’ve become a Ranger. That doesn’t mean I still want any part of this world.”

    She nodded her head, though she felt a strange disappointment in her heart. He’s just a plaything, she reminded herself, and shook it off. “Come on, 0,” she said, and started for the door, “Council said that I should show you some things for your Golden Ranger equipment.”

    0 just grumbled. Being a Ranger came with too many changes, though at least he wouldn’t have to worry about his wardrobe. For some reason it was already stocked with gold clothing already.

    When 0 exited his quarters, he noticed that the agents around him reacted differently. For one, the instant he exited the door, he couldn’t help but catch the fact that about twenty people halted their work to salute him, including one junior agent who dropped a massive stack of paperwork.

    “That…isn’t necessary,” he murmured, though he saluted back. Serena just giggled, mostly because this action was repeated at least ten times before they made it to the Research and Development Laboratories, a sub-division of PKM that specialized in the weaponry used by the agents and Rangers. “Why are we here?”

    Serena just smirked. “Why do you think we’re here?” she quipped, and stopped just before a pair of tall, pale doors. “We’re here because, as a Ranger, you get all kinds of special goodies. Comes with the territory.” She opened them, and stepped through. Reluctantly, 0 followed her into the realm of the man called Agent 003, or…

    “Bakaguru!” the Golden Ranger shouted, the moment he entered Research and Development. The small confines of the lab seemed to shift abruptly as Agent 003 flinched at his voice, his large mass quite able to do so. 0 and Serena found him only a few rooms inside, making final adjustments to a strange motorcycle. 0 leant against the tool table, while Serena glomped the rather large man, though unable to fit her arms around him.

    “Miss. Serena,” he murmured in a high, nasally voice. “What brings you down here?” The giant man straightened himself, and rearranged his glasses. “And what’s he doing here?” He pointed a fat finger at 0, who ignored him, his interest stimulated by the vehicle Bakaguru was working on.

    “New Golden Ranger, Bakaguru,” Serena explained. “We’re here to set in his stats as a Ranger, and reconfigure the Morpher.”

    “What is this?” 0 asked, and pointed to the motorcycle. It was one of the finest machines he had ever seen. It looked like a motorcycle, but hovered off the ground with magnetic repulses. The sleek design was golden and black, exactly like his Ranger uniform, and was obviously meant for going very, very fast. It looked sort of like a modified Kanto cycle, the handles located in special ports rather than extended from the front frame.

    “It’s called the 0 Cycle, Gold,” Bakaguru answered. “It’s a special vehicle designed for the Golden Ranger for transportation; It’s a beauty, isn’t it?” He pulled out a rag, and wiped up his greasy head. His matted brown hair glistened with sweat, and he stuck the rag away in his pants before continuing. “The only engineering flaw is that there are no breaks installed, by request of the former Golden Ranger.” He straightened the massive frames of his glasses. “Other than that, it depends on the skill of the driver. It has optimum steering, perfect balance, and a top speed of two hundred miles per hour.”

    “Just don’t crash it into a wall,” Serena offered, with a sly grin.

    0 groaned, and shook his head. “That’s reassuring, guys,” he muttered. “Is there anything else I should know, like how the steering column works?” He placed a hand onto the surface of his new vehicle. “Have you ever seen me fall off even a scooter, 3? This’ll be a cakewalk. What‘s next?”

    Bakaguru pointed to a door on the west side of the laboratory. “Head over there,” he murmured, returning his attention to the motorcycle. “That’s the Golden Ranger’s room, where we keep all your weapons and crap. You’ll need to register your Morpher and Morphing Spirit there, so that you can access this nice 0 Cycle and everything you might need on the job. You can’t carry it around with you.”

    “Did you say weapons?”

    Bakaguru nodded. “I did. So what?”

    “I already have one,” 0 explained. “When I morphed for the first time, me and Pi managed to create this kind of sword. Can’t I just use that?”

    The technician’s brows rose. “Excuse me?” he asked. “Did you just say you formed a weapon on your own?” The Ranger nodded. “That’s highly unusual. Your Pokemon’s bond with you must be one of particular potency to do that… I might have to run some tests with Jessie.”

    0 smiled. “Hey, is James here too?”

    Bakaguru nodded. “Yep. Got them and the Meowth working on something big for ya both. They’ll be in the Weapons Testing room, next door to the Ranger rooms. Keep it legal, you two.” 0’s face crimsoned, while Serena giggled. Bakaguru waved goodbye, before resuming work on the 0 Cycle. “Don’t distract them too much! I have them on a tight leash already for that annoying theme song they whine about all day!”

    “Got it!” Serena replied, heading straight for the Golden Ranger room, a small door with bright gold paint on it in the form of a “0” written at the Golden Ranger’s eye level. “Here’s where we keep your crap. Welcome.” She pressed a small control unit on the side of the door, and inputted a small password. The door beeped, and opened. “Come on!” She grabbed his hand, and pulled him inside.

    “Wow,” was all he could say. The whole room, and bear it mind it was a decently sized room, was painted in gold and black. It was also mostly empty, save for a giant sword that hung on the wall opposite them. The zanbato he had summoned with Pikachu gleamed in the dim lighting. “Hey, my sword.” He walked over to it, ignoring the comments being made by his partner about size. It seemed bigger to him, a few inches taller than he was, in fact.

    “Compensating, Baby-chan?” Serena purred. Then she giggled, tossing her hair out of her eyes. “That’s a nice blade, if you don’t mind me saying… Is it in direct proportion to your ‘short sword’?”

    “That is none of your business.”

    She just laughed, and motioned for him to follow her. He obliged, and she led him to a computer terminal in the center of the room. “Here’s where the data goes into,” she explained, pointing to the monitor. “And there’s where you need to swipe your Morpher.” She pointed to a small scanner on the side of the machine. “After you do that, we can register everything in this room for you to access at any time. Except the sword, which is weird, considering you shouldn’t have been able to form it without the program. That’s automatically saved to you.”

    He nodded. “I think I understood that,” he answered. He held out the Morpher, and rubbed it against the scanner. It beeped, and confirmed him. A giant page about him and his service record came online, displaying his rank as a Ranger, before transferring to a blank, golden screen “Now what?”

    “We make them,” she replied sweetly, like a mother explaining to her infant. “Pi, want to lend us a hand?” She pressed a button on the other side of the machine, and 0’s Morpher glowed. He raised it to his face, but an instant later, the face of his Pokemon Spirit emerged on the terminal’s monitor.

    “Hello!” Pi chirped, in a very happy voice. 0 grinned. “Nice to see you again, Serena.”

    “Same, little buddy,” she said. “I think you’ve lost weight. What’s the secret?”

    It laughed. “Get digitized.”

    “How’ve you been, Pi?” 0 asked.

    “Fine,” it answered. The screen zoomed out, and the Pikachu’s whole body was displayed sitting down lazily, a grin on it’s face. “It’s nice in here, sort of. I guess it’ll take some getting use to, but it’s better than a Pokeball. At least here I can create programs to roam in virtual reality. Though I do sort of miss having to eat…” It stopped talking, and stood up. “So, what exactly do you need?”

    Serena shrugged. “Nothing much. We just need to run a few tests to make sure that as a Ranger Spirit, you’re properly connected to your Ranger. Then we need to activate his secondary weapon, considering you already made the primary one for him earlier.”

    “I did?” it asked, confused. “Oh, you mean the sword. I didn’t make that. He did.”

    Serena swerved towards 0, who wisely remained silent. “Well, we’ll check out the creation of that sword later. For now, think you can give me a hand?”

    “Certainly.” Pikachu opened a file, and began to create a weapon. “What kind of weapon did you have in mind?”

    “Tradition has always stated that all Rangers normally have one melee weapon and one projectile weapon,” Serena answered. “Considering you both already created the melee weapon in the form of the giant sword, how does a blaster, or something like that, sound?” She turned to 0 for his opinion.

    “That sounds fine to me,” he stated, and folded his arms. “Good offensive.”

    “Okay. I should be able to cook something up,” the little mouse answered, and closed its eyes. “How does this look to you?” The program it had opened shifted, altering into a weapon. “Here comes the gun weapon!”

    0 felt hard metal form in his hands, and a bright light flashed from the computer and his hands. A teleportation, he reasoned, as the weapon began to form in his hands. It was golden, and black, just like the theme of the Golden Ranger’s uniform. The weapon resembled a sawn-off shotgun with twin chambers. “How will that work?” Pi asked its trainer.

    “Interesting,” Serena muttered. “It’s a lot smaller than the other one.” It fitted perfectly for one-handed usage, which would free up the other arm for attacking.

    “That’ll do, Pi,” 0 decided, with a grin. He twirled the handle in his fingers, but didn’t fire. “I might need some practice using it, but I’m a fast learner.”

    “Rangers don’t need practice,” Serena interjected. “All Ranger uniforms come equipped with programs to help you fight with your weapons, considering the inexperience some Rangers can have with the weapons their Spirits create.”

    “Pi, disable that,” 0 murmured, and stopped playing with his gun. “I want it all natural.” Pi squeaked its approval, but the White Ranger shook her head.

    “Let’s call it the Lightning Laser,” the Pikachu suggested.

    0 shook his head. “Something better, Pi. Nothing clichéd.”

    “My weapon. My name.”

    “My weapon. My having to call out its name.”

    “Overruled,” Serena murmured, setting in the name on the computer. With another flash of light, the Lightning Laser vanished from 0’s right hand. “Next, the name of the sword.”

    “Bolt Blade,” Pi answered with enthusiasm, its face grinning. 0 groaned, but Serena smiled, inputting the name. The Bolt Blade glowed, but stayed where it was, while the Lightning Laser emerged on the wall beside it, ready to be summoned.

    “Such originality,” 0 grunted, rubbing his head. “We need anything else?

    Serena shook her head. “Nope. That’ll do it. Thanks for the assist Pi.”

    “Not a problem, 3,” the Pikachu replied cheerfully. “Please feel free to contact me should you require anything else.” The screen flared, then Pikachu vanished, downloaded back into the Morpher, and waiting for summoning by 0.

    Serena rolled her eyes. “I think Pi has more personality than you do, Baby-chan,” she giggled. 0 sighed, she had already forgotten their earlier quarrel. “I think he’s the side of you that remembers a tiny thing called fuuuuuun.”

    “I’ll file that away in my brain,” he retorted dully. He turned round, and started out of the room. “I think we’re done here. Let’s get ready for the mission. Be ready in two hours.” Serena heard the door open, and shut.

    She fumed, and stood up. “I need to get laid,” she growled to herself. “And that boy’s the only one who will do…” She grinned, and headed out the doorway. Like 0, she too had things to prepare. Namely several cases of luggage filled with clothing.
    ***
    When 0 returned to his quarters, he cleared out his room. It didn’t take very long, considering he had few personal possessions; all he really was going to need was extra clothing for his cover. He grabbed the locker underneath his bed and hauled it onto his desk, opening it to check its contents. A few Pokeballs from the old days, all emptied of course. When he had joined PKM and left his family, he had been lucky to get away with only Pikachu. The rest were with Professor Oak, his old rival. “Hope Gary’s taking good care of them with Tracey,” he muttered. He ignored the photos, and dumped some of his clothing inside. “Pi, how are we doing on time?”

    “We have one hour, thirty minutes, and twenty-seven seconds. And counting.”

    0 nodded. “That’s good.” He looked onto the desk and grabbed the picture that Serena had messed with. He sighed. “Pi, can I ask you something about this mission?”

    “Certainly,” the Pokemon answered. “Would you like to know anything further about the mission specs or the details?”

    “Neither.” The Golden Ranger picked up the gun and knife he kept underneath his cot, and tucked the weapons into his holsters beneath his clothing. “It’s 3. Do you think she has some sort of ulterior motive in coming with me on this assignment?”

    “Well, since you are going to be partners on this mission, I think you should start by calling her by her name, rather than her designation,” it suggested. “For all the trouble you think she causes you, I think she’s genuinely concerned about you. She is your friend.”

    0 laughed. “She annoys me,” he murmured, stashing away some food from his stores into the locker. He found only a few bottles of beer, but he took what he could find, along with several doses of serum. “She lives to make me feel uncomfortable, Pi.”

    “Don’t worry about it too much,” the Pikachu replied soothingly. “I recall you used to be just like her a few years ago. Guess it comes with adulthood and all. Maybe she’s trying to help you have some fun. I know for a fact you could use some.”

    “I was not a horndog when I was young,” 0 grumbled, shutting the locker. “And I didn’t let myself get worked up over a little photo.” He pulled out the strap on the locker, and slung it over his shoulder. He looked at the picture, and groaned. “I miss those days, Pi. But I also know that they can’t happen again.” He tucked the picture away into his pockets and started for the door. “This isn’t a fairy tale. It doesn’t have a happy ending for me.”

    “It would if you’d let it, friend,” Pikachu answered.

    “Let’s just get going,” 0 said, terminating the conversation. He exited the room, and started directly for the hangers. It wouldn’t take long, but he liked to be early. It helped him make his decisions when he had more time to make them. His door hissed shut behind him, and he didn’t look back, his attention focused on the narrow corridor ahead of him.

    “Do not salute,” he ordered a passerby, who had the look in their eye of a new recruit, who still obeyed the guidebook to the letter. “I hate salutes.” The recruit, who seemed to be very scared, wisely followed the direction he was given, and ran for cover. 0 grinned. “I like this.”

    “Don’t scare newbies,” his Pokemon reprimanded him.

    “Why?”

    “Because it…isn’t nice?”

    0 snorted. “Whatever gave you the impression I was a nice person?” he asked the mouse. “I’m not a nice person.”

    “Yes you are.”

    “Shut up.”

    “Nope.”

    0 decided not to argue with Pi, and turned left. The hangers weren’t located too far away from the living quarters, considering PKM had to be on standby twenty-four-seven for deployment. Serena had told him the departure was at the second hanger, so he had naturally made absolutely certain that that was true. Sighing, he opened the door to the first hanger, where a private helicopter was waiting for him on the launch pad. Personnel were handling it, making sure it was at optimum performance before departure.

    “Hello, sir,” a voice behind him quipped, and he jumped. A small technician was smiling at him through dark-rimmed glasses, her hair in a bundled up ponytail. “How are you doing this evening, sir?”

    “You called me ‘sir’ already,” he muttered. “You can stop.”

    “Okay sir,” she answered on impulse, before bending back into her clipboard. “Would you like a report on the efficiency of the helicopter you will be piloting? Do you know how to pilot this craft? If so, would you like me to take you to a simulation?”

    0 held up three fingers. “No, yes, and hell no,” he answered, counting down each answer on his fingers. “The only thing I want to know is where the nearest beer is.”

    “Alcohol should not be consumed before flight, sir, as it decreases the brain’s ability to properly handle the controls of a flying craft,” she pointed out, pointing the eraser end of a pencil at him. “Anything else?”

    “Yes,” he answered. “Please get someone to get me a beer, since I work better with it in my system.” He lifted his hand, and gave her a thumb’s up. “Do so now. Posthaste, in fact.”

    She grumbled, but he put his thumb on the bright golden 0 on his uniform, so she obeyed, scurrying off somewhere. “That wasn’t nice,” Pi muttered from his watch.

    “I’m not nice, and I’d like some booze while I wait for 3 to pack every single shred of cloth she owns. It‘s gonna be a while.”

    And he was correct. Fifteen minutes later, the technician returned with a frosty cold mug of ale, and he thanked her kindly. He asked her to then leave, and she did, returning to her other duties for the helicopter launch, and he waited for Serena to reemerge. Which she did ninety minutes later, with numerous grunt Agents in tow, carrying her belongings.

    “Well, that took you long enough,” he sighed, and watched as the poor, backbreaking Agents began to load the helicopter with her belongings. “Ten bucks says the machine doesn’t hold all your junk.” Serena fumed, but sat down beside him.

    “Is that all you brought?” she asked incredulously, pointing at the locker by his feet.

    “It’s all I need,” he answered. He took another sip. “Anyway, what’s the big deal with being so late? Is it really necessary to pack so many clothes?” Then his hand shook, as he noticed what she was wearing. “And why exactly are you dressed like that?” The touch of red stained his cheeks for only an instant, but an instant was all Serena needed for ammunition.

    She wasn’t wearing her uniform anymore, far from it. Having opted for something more causal, she now wore jeans so tight they looked painted on. Her navel was showing too, considering the white shirt that hung on her on spaghetti straps only reached to the middle of her stomach. A few bracelets adorned her arms, disguising the white morpher on her right hand, while her snowy locks were bundled up into a bun. Needless to say, the majority of her helpers were male.

    “I like it,” she decided. “You can’t go out in public in military gear, Baby-chan. We’re gonna have to take you shopping.”

    “Not going to happen,” he retorted, and took another swig of ale. “Besides, I’ll change once we reach the safe house in Petalburg.” He scratched his head. “I have clothing of my own, none of which look like that.”

    “You sound like my father,” she murmured, pushing her seat next to his. 0 noticed that she wasn’t wearing a bra, simply from her proximity. “I want to have fun on this mission, so I wanted to wear something that would help me blend in with the surrounding culture.”

    “I’m fairly certain that you will not blend in wearing that,” he muttered, looking away. “You will be standing out in the crowds.” The technician came over, thankfully interrupting the ever-uncomfortable conversation.

    “We’ve loaded all of Ms. Brine’s equipment into the helicopter,” she announced. “Would you like to proceed to the helicopter for takeoff?”

    “Thanks. We will.” 0 stood up, and lugged his locker in the direction of the helipad. The chopper in question was small, and black. For covert operations, he thought to himself, opening the door. He threw the locker underneath the seat, and took his place in the captain’s chair. “Get in, 3.”

    “Lock and load,” she replied eagerly, climbing into the co-pilot chair. “Any chance of joining the mile high club while we’re up there?”

    “Not a snowball’s chance in Hades,” he retorted, placing on an earpiece for communication. “This is Poke 122, requesting permission for takeoff.” He glanced over at Serena, who had placed on a helmet for protection. “All parties ready for liftoff.”

    “This is control tower,” crackled a voice into his ear. “Poke 122, you have been cleared for takeoff. Opening shuttle doors now. Takeoff at will.”

    “Will comply,” 0 answered, and buckled himself into his machine. The hanger doors ahead began to open, revealing to 0 the startling moonlight of the Orre desert. He punched a button, and gripped the throttle of the helicopter. Serena, always the daredevil, stuck her head out of the window, grinning as the chopper blades began to swing above their heads. “Let’s get going, 3.”

    “Good luck, Rangers,” the control tower said.

    “Roger.” 0 felt the strange jerk of motion as the chopper lifted itself from the ground. He pulled the controls up, and the chopper lurched forward. “Get your head in the chopper, 3,” he ordered, noticing that she hadn’t bothered to even buckle her seatbelt. “Do so now.” Then he grinned, and jerked the chopper around in the air, banging her head against the window. “I said get ready.”

    Serena stuck her tongue at him, rubbed her head, and returned to her seat. 0 pushed on the throttle, and the craft began moving forward. “Adios, PKM,” he sighed, as the helicopter reached the optimum altitude to properly launch from PKM’s hangers. “Are you ready for the mission, 3?”

    “Yeah,” she answered, strapping herself into her seat.

    “I wonder how Hoenn is at this time of year,” he sighed. “It’s been a long time since I was sent out there… This should be entertaining.” Ahead of them, the bright Orre desert bloomed into their sights, an endless sea of desert that spanned the horizon. “It’s bright. I wish I had the shades.”

    Both Rangers discontinued any conversation.
    ______________________
    'Till later, everyone. Next Morph has a funny title!
    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
    Join Date
    Aug 2006
    Posts
    235

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    Yay!, new chap! Love it. Serena's an awsome character, and I agree w/ Pi, Ash needs some fun.
    Name: Tian
    FC: 2921 5563 3610

  25. #25
    Join Date
    Oct 2006
    Location
    Singapore
    Posts
    575

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    Man your chapters are long, I read chapter one, it explains the current situation about some of the main character, Keean Toby (*coughAshcough*), May, Max, Sarah and Brock. There are comical moments, like May beating up that otaku and Sarah. Great one so far, I will review the others later. (You really have long chapters...)

    EDIT: I have read everything else... Max the otaku, May's proper meeting with 'Keean Toby' and a little 0 to SA 06 moment in Chap 2, with the discovery of the serum, Ash pwning May in Chapter 3 and the bomb, with very cool action scene! Chap 4, the death of 0 and Ash becoming 0. Very nice and Power Ranger like. Chapter 5 must be my favorite, with the introduction of Serena, the funny annoying girl! She will bug Ash more than 0 will ever do. The scars conversation... Sounds like it will pop an interesting subject later. And Serena wants to get laid by Ash? Weird and new mission! This story got me hooked, waiting to see more...
    Last edited by flamingoozaru; 16th June 2007 at 7:15 PM.

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