Pokemon Fan Fiction ❯ Loyalty ❯ Chapter 1

[ T - Teen: Not suitable for readers under 13 ]
Years after starting his journey, Ash, Indigo League champion, is training to inherit Team Rocket. Misty, Cerulean gym leader, is secretly part of an organization trying to bring Team Rocket to justice. AshxMisty, GiovannixDelia, JamesxJessie

Disclaimer, I don't own Pokemon.


Chapter 01: Nostalgia

The sun shone brightly in the afternoon skies projecting nothing but peace and harmony to the little town of Pallet. It had been ten years since the start of his journey, ten years almost constantly on the road with only a few small breaks in between. Ten years of adventure, ten years of optimism, ten years of training to become the champion. While he journeyed on, Ash wondered when the day would come for him to claim the ultimate victory of the Indigo League; when, not if, as he shared his father's confident determination and certainty of victory one way or another.

When the day finally arrived, it felt as if it was too soon. His journey was over. Despite earning the title of champion and being offered to take the position as such, Ash refused. The victory meant something else, it meant he had another place to take, another role to play, and he didn't feel ready, even if he fought with determination every step of the way.

"What's wrong?" Ash remembered his father had asked as they made their way down the dim hallways of the underground hide out. "You look nervous, you never get like this during battles and you've already won."

Ash looked up from his current fascination with the floor and examined his father's face, not hiding a single trace of his unsure expression. "What now?" He asked with the outmost uncertainty, feeling as if his every step echoed heavily, carrying him towards an unknown point of no return. "I trained, I battled, I won, and that's what you told me I had to do. I defeated Lance and..." he paused, drowning in his own uncertainty.

"And me," Giovanni admitted without the bitterness that would come if the defeat had been at the hands of anyone else. "So now you don't know what comes next? You've proven you're strong and determined enough, but this is only the start of your training. There's still much to learn. From this point on you'll be with me as I run Team Rocket. When you're ready I'll hand over certain operations to you and supervise your progress. You still have a long way to go."

Far from being disappointed, Ash was relieved. He wouldn't know what to do if the future of Team Rocket was simply handed to him, not that his father would be so careless. The champion took a deep breath and let it out slowly as he absentmindedly petted the Pikachu on his shoulders. This was the destiny that lay before him ever since his birth, could he face it? Did he want to? Those questions had oddly enough never surfaced in his mind before. All he had to do was climb up, all he had to think was that he had to do this. Did he have a choice? What would that choice be?

Ash focused on the present as he made his way down the rustic roads of Pallet Town, his orange car leaving tire marks on the dirt path as it went. The brightly colored vehicle stopped in front of the Oak research laboratory where the young man exited it and walked past the parted gates of the front entrance beyond the brick fence. A soft pleasant breeze blew as he made his way up the steps and entered the residence as if it were his own. "Gary, are you here?"

"No, I'm off on a journey to catch one of each pokemon in existence!" Came a sarcastic reply from the backyard, the sound of which led Ash to his long time rival and friend. "So, what brings you here?" Gary inquired without even turning around to look at Ash as he exited from the back door, instead focused on his activity of admiring his grandfather's land.

"Nothing much," Ash reached into the pocket of his jeans pulling out a fat white envelope. "Just the mail." He grinned as if it were nothing. He knew all too well what was in that envelope. Pikachu, his ever present loyal companion, jumped off his shoulders and went to play with the other pokemon in the Oak land.

Gary accepted the envelope with curiosity that shouldn't have been; he knew what was in it. Maybe the source of his perplexity was not the mail, but the mailman. He opened the white envelope casually and whistled at the wad of cash it contained running his finger over the edge and watching the valuable material bounce off the surface of his thumb held together with a rubber band. "Did you get demoted to the rank of delivery boy?" Gary teased.

"I haven't made dad angry yet," Ash joked back, "I just offered to deliver the payment since I wanted to come to Pallet anyway. It's been a while." Looking away from Gary, Ash contemplated the land before them. "It's been a long time since we used to run around here calling each other names... or rather since you used to chase me around here calling me names."

"Getting nostalgic, are you?" Gary chuckled, "I guess this means your father's working you to the bone and you needed release." Pausing for a moment, Gary adopted a serious and somewhat dark expression, "the goods are in the back."

Ash's expression tried to remain serious, but a smile ultimately stretched across his face and he burst out in a fit of laughter. The action earned him a fake punch on the arm from Gary. "Right, right.... I'll make sure the goods are delivered to the boss."

The goods in question were the fruits of Gary's Team Rocket sponsored research. Gary had known about Ash's situation for some time, having found out about five years ago. It led to enmity and bitterness just when the two had apparently gotten over their rivalry to become true friends. However, they worked out their differences and ended up making a deal. Gary's research would be sponsored by Team Rocket and he would share the results in exchange. Part of the deal was that Gary refused to formulate anything that would be ultimately harmful for pokemon or humans, no poison, no chemicals riddled with side effects. Additionally his research would be free of cruelty, no live experimentation, or at least not on pokemon. As for plants, Gary had killed and mutated a large number of flowers, bushes and even small trees all for the sake of science. Ash didn't understand how he could link that to pokemon, but somehow he could.

Gary stepped forward and sat down on the grass behind the house. He pulled out a cigarette box from his lab coat and lit one. "I'm a big hypocrite," he stated as the smoke danced in the breeze in front of him. "I know that the researchers in Team Rocket are going to confirm my findings with live experimentation, yet I choose to ignore it."

Ash sat down beside him and remained silent for a long moment, "I... I just do what I'm supposed to... I wonder if I'll ever form a will of my own. It's strange, this is what I've been raised to do, this is the goal I pursued for so long thinking it was my own."

"We're both empty shells, huh?" Gary laughed bitterly. He closed his eyes and exhaled, "In the past, I never would have thought-"

The sharp sound of Ash's cellphone cut him off as Ash jumped a little at the noise. "Sorry, I need to take it."

"So jumpy..." Gary commented before fading into silence and focusing on his cigarette and the landscape before him.

"What?" Ash sounded angry, which made Gary snap into attention and stare at him, as if trying to read the other side of the conversation in his eyes. "Just like that, in broad daylight? You think you can tell me that and not expect me to go? Of course I'm going!" Ash's finger went down on the cell phone's button so harshly that he almost broke the thin high tech device in half in his hand.

"What happened?" Gary demanded more so than asked. Ash had bolted to his feet in a split second.

"Pikachu!" Ash called at the top of his lungs in an impatient and commanding voice he never used for his pokemon under normal circumstances. There was obviously something wrong and the yellow electric pokemon wasted no time in rushing back to his trainer. Ash started on his way back through the Oak residence and towards the front door, simultaneously giving Gary his explanation. "They have mom," the statement was filled with anger and frustration.

Ash nearly ran into the elder Oak, who was returning from the local convenience store. "The police?" Gary inquired with urgency as he followed Ash down the stairs, both young men rushing past Samuel, apparently not noticing him in their haste.

"No, some anti-Rocket group called the Azure Alliance. Dad warned me about them," Ash climbed into his car and caused the engine to roar to life. Without any further exchange of words he drove off in a rush.

Gary spat out his cigarette as he coughed in the dust left behind by Ash's car, which now clung to his previously clean white lab coat. He saw from the corner of his eyes that his grandfather had made his way down the steps, abandoning the bag of groceries next to the door. "This is bad," he stepped on the cigarette on the ground and turned completely to look at his grandfather. Ash was already out of sight, the orange dot that was his fancy sports car fading away in the distance. Gary knew his grandfather expected an explanation, which was best given inside, if at all.

The two Oaks headed up the stairs, with the elder in bitter worried silence and the younger filled with a frustrating uncertainty. Gary picked up the grocery bag as he went through the door, rummaging through it for a bottle of pain killers. Finding the item, he strode to the kitchen depositing the bag and the rest of its contents on the counter and pouring him self a glass of water. He knew Samuel was expectantly waiting for an answer, "you can just ask."

"There's a limit to what you can tell me," the elderly professor stated as a matter of fact. "There's also a limit to what they tell you."

"But you choose to ignore my little venture in favor of not jailing your own grandson," Gary snapped and paused to swallow the medicine that would hopefully relieve his headache. "The Azure Alliance, those anti-rocket vigilantes... they have Delia."

A look of worried horror overcame Samuel's face, before he forced his expression to become stern. "She made her choice years ago when she married into the mafia. She knew this could have happened; it was only a matter of time, especially with how Team Rocket has been moving in the recent years. She... deserves..." he paused unable to finish his intended harsh statement fueled by frustration. Instead he confessed, "she deserves nothing of the sort. I guess I've been a hypocrite giving you the silent treatment. I know that what you're doing isn't out of evil, but it's not right, still... you're my only grandson, my only family left alive. Delia was like family to me too and the whole town missed her when she closed the cafe and disappeared from our lives, with only a few of us knowing why... It's all because of him, because he called her to return."

"Return?" Gary questioned, "it's not like she was disconnected from Team Rocket to begin with. It was more of a long vacation than anything else. What's all that 'was' stuff anyway? I know you still care about Delia, as a father I'd like to think." The theory was accompanied by a raise of an eyebrow and a suspicious, almost accusing undertone.

"Of course! How else?" Samuel snapped.

"She was like the mother I never had, or more like never met." Gary admitted, why was that medicine taking so long to ease the tension in his head? "I was jealous of Ash because of her, but I never told him that. Even if I was a rival to her son, she always treated me kindly." After a silent pause, Gary occupied himself in putting away the groceries still remaining in the bag. "Giovanni's going to be pissed off if anything happens to her."

To be Continued

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Chapter 02: Surprise

To any passer-bys the group of women looked like a quartet of best friends out on a picnic seeking to find some time away from life, from the world and its stress. The other dwellers of the park in the outskirts of Fuchsia City knew nothing of the women's conversation, but they assumed it to consist about fashion, celebrities, music, men, and other such topics. They smiled, they laughed, yet they discourage potential flirts that looked their way, making it clear to the single men that were out and about on that sunny afternoon that this was a girl's day out. All of that was written in their eyes, so different from the truth.

This was an operation of precision that the Azure Alliance, a secret organization of vigilantes, could not mess up. Their contact revealed that the mysterious wife of the Rocket boss was vacationing in a villa not too far from their current location. They could in fact see the structure in question from where they sat on their red and white checkered blanket.

Surrounded by beautiful flowers of all possible colors, some of the varieties quite rare, the picturesque villa was nothing short of a postcard scene. Its peaceful atmosphere betrayed the nature of the funds that purchased it. "We have like no idea who this woman is or like what she looks like." Daisy, the oldest of the four Waterflowers cautioned, tugging a loose strand of wavy blond hair behind her ear casually.

"Our contact has not been wrong before, there's no reason to doubt our sponsor now." Misty elaborated, picking up a peanut butter and jelly sandwich and taking a bite off it seemingly without a care in the world.

"I like feel uneasy," Lilly admitted, her face betraying her mask of bliss for a split second, before she giggled at random to ease herself back into her acting.

"We've like talked about this," Violet encouraged as she took a sip of her soda. "Our sponsor's anonymity is like an understandable safety precaution." They were anonymous too, though they suspected that their mysterious sponsor knew who they were.

A few people passed by just outside the park's grounds. From the position partially hidden behind a tree with the excuse of partaking of its shade, the sisters saw them clearly. "They came from the villa," Misty discarded her unfinished sandwich and stood, stretching naturally.

It was time for the villa's staff to take a break. According to the rumors, the wife of Team Rocket's leader was kind towards her staff and did not request all the pampering that her husband provided. It was hard to imagine given their opinion of the organization being less than favorable. One by one the sisters stood and tidied up the remains of their picnic, before going off on a little stroll, the covered picnic basket on hand.

The villa had no prominent fences, though a row of well kept bushes and flowers marked the limits of the private property. Occasionally, a few people would wonder into the yard to admire the flowers, but just as quietly and peacefully as they came, they would leave, no harm done. The four young women stopped to smell the flowers as a boy walking his Growlithe passed by minding his own business. By the time the next person passed by, a lady with a large hat who cradled an Oddish in her arms, the Waterflowers were already out of sight behind the main cabin of the small villa.

Retrieving masks from their picnic basket they trusted in the informant's accuracy in reporting a lack of surveillance cameras in this particular property. They tugged their hair into their pokemon shaped masks leaving no hint of their identity, covering their clothing in dark blue coats. The action was done swiftly; Misty wore the face of a Starmie, while Daisy, Violet and Lilly's masks resembled a Dewgong, Seadra and Goldeen respectively. Without further ado the women had Violet's Kingler force the back door open and they rushed inside, with Lilly staying behind to act as the guard.

Startled by the sudden noise, the one inhabiting the villa set the book she was reading down on the elegant polished wood coffee table and made her way towards the back of the structure curiously. She froze upon seeing the four masked figures and they too froze upon seeing her face. She stared at their coats; there was a blue A of a cerulean shade that stood out against the navy of the coats. "The Azure Alliance..."

"You..." Misty's heart was a turmoil of emotion. The informant had to be wrong. This woman was Delia, the mother of her childhood friend, her childhood crush. They had only met a few times casually in the recent years, but he was not someone to be forgotten. He was that busy friend that she kept meaning to catch up with, the friend she could never let go of in spite of distance. "Why are you here?"

Sensing her sister's distress, Daisy stepped forward, taking command of the mission and ordering her sister's Kingler to the front lines. "Who are you really? Why are you like here?" She demanded to know, the confusion slipping into her voice mixed with disbelief.

"We like need to move!" Came Lilly's urgent voice. "Jessie and James are coming." She recognized them instantly despite their civilian clothing; the Azure Alliance had some small amount of information about Team Rocket members, mostly those who operated out in the open. She also saw the reason for their lack of movement in the criminal scene lately; Jessie was very obviously pregnant, making her way to the villa at a luxurious pace with James and Meowth enjoying the scenery and the afternoon breeze beside her.

A moment of uncertainty hung in the air, "should we?" Violet inquired unsure.

"You're coming with us." Misty finally ordered. She couldn't picture Delia being a criminal, but Jessie and James were going to see her. It was true that they were coming as civilians, but the fact that they were acquainted with her enough to visit hinted that Delia might know something useful. That is if Jessie and James were heading that way at all, maybe they were just taking a break and curiously wondered into the villa's land to look at the flowers. Either way, they needed more time to be sure and Misty had the nagging feeling that she shouldn't leave Delia behind.

"Why are you doing this?" Delia's voice became upset. "What do you hope to accomplish? Giovanni will not bend to your will; I won't allow you to use me against him."

Misty's eyes went wide behind her mask. Delia was clearly involved with Team Rocket, with their leader, Giovanni. Was she really his wife? There was no time for further discussion. With clenched teeth and a shattering heart, Misty signaled to Daisy. The oldest Waterflower released her Dewgong from its pokemon and commanded "ice beam!"

The force of the hit came gentler than Delia expected, she wasn't knocked back too hard, but she felt her body go numb with the cold. Misty caught her before she hit the ground, her limbs somewhat unresponsive from the cold. "I'm sorry," she pulled a small spray from her pocket aiming it at Delia's nose and mouth area. Invisible mist was suspended in the atmosphere around her, while the Waterflower's masks did more then just hide their identity. Delia's eyelids felt heavy as they closed, making her fall into the irresistible chemically induced slumber.

Aided by the fact that Jessie, James and Meowth had taken their sweet time examining the lovely garden, the Waterflowers made their escape from the villa, discarding their masks and coats. They carried the unconscious Delia between Daisy and Violet, arm in arm, appearing to be good friends leaning on each other from the distance. They hurried to their car on the opposite path on the other side of the villa. The light blue vehicle with tinted windows carried them away from the scene of the kidnapping swiftly and they were not followed.

xoxox xox xoxox

Some time later... Jessie sighed as she tried to get comfortable on the hard cold bench of the Viridian Rocket base dungeon. Cassidy had come by earlier with a few snide remarks, but the worse was yet to come. Meowth seemed to be taking the whole thing quite harshly, curled into a moping ball of uncertainty and sadness in a corner of the small cell that was just enough to fit the three of them. James sulked at Jessie's side, his arms around her shoulders while her hands rubbed her large belly.

Confident and imposing footsteps sounded off, accompanied by other sets of footsteps that seemed to fade in comparison. The bars were removed from in front of the trio allowing them a clear view of the rocket boss himself. "What trouble have you three caused this time?" He was angry, enraged, almost murderous, but it was not directed at them and they somehow knew it, he just wanted information.

"We were too late," Jessie stated simply, not lifting her eyes from the gray stone floor.

"Everything we said, it's all true," James insisted. "When we got there all we saw were the forced backdoor, the coats and masks," he grimaced. "It must have been the Azure Alliance, the coats had their insignia. We couldn't protect her..."

"Even if she gave her attendants the afternoon off, they shouldn't have gone so far," Giovanni growled. "You two can go; this wasn't your job to mess up anyway. As for those assigned to tend to Delia's needs... they will be severely punished."

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The light blue car with tinted windows advanced at a steady pace towards a seemingly abandoned warehouse in Fuchsia city. The place was notorious for being the hideout of a small gang that was unrelated to Team Rocket and too small for the criminal titan to bother with them. The gang had frequent fights with the police, but the Rockets didn't care. Those fights faded away and the residents of the outskirts of Fuchsia were thankful, but none were certain of the reason for the improvement.

In truth the Azure Alliance had taken that hideout away from the band of criminals in relation to their crime of illegally trading water pokemon caught in bulk to the point where the survival of their species in the wild was threatened. That was the group's original purpose, to protect water pokemon in the wild and stopping that gang was their turning point from an environmental society just beginning to be formed, to a secret group of vigilantes.

With the technicalities and authority they overstepped to take justice into their own hands, the group was legally disintegrated and faded into nothingness in the public eye, remaining alive and slowly growing as a secret society under the care of the Waterflower sisters.

It was ironic that they would take the gang's hideout for themselves and that the police would adopt the same attitude of inaction that they had with the structure's previous inhabitants. It was in that old structure just outside of Fuchsia City with its port visible a relatively short distance away, where Delia began to wake up, though her eyes could not see light. Her senses were slow from the effects of the fast acting sleeping chemicals and her movements were so stiff and accentuated with shivers that it took her a moment to realize her mobility had been impeded by ropes.

Delia's hands were tied behind her back with ropes, her feet immobilized in a similar fashion as she lay in a makeshift futon on the floor of a place unknown to her. A black cloth was tied around her head over her eyes, preventing her from visually examining her surroundings. However, the quiet sounds near by hinted that she was not alone, which gave her an odd sense of relief mixed with fear. Though her eyes were covered, her mouth was not, which made Delia reason that they expected her to talk and screaming would be either useless, or swiftly dealt with.

Though she had upon awakening moved on instinct, Delia fell back into an absolute stillness; she didn't want to be interrogated. "I know that you're awake." A female voice spoke near her. The voice was no longer muffled by a mask, but Delia knew it must be one of the women from before. "I need to know what your involvement is in this... I don't want to keep you like this." There was a certain pain in the woman's voice that Delia perceived to be real. Did she know this woman? Had they met before under different circumstances?

Sighing in exasperation at the silence that eradiated from Delia Misty reached forward to remove her blindfold. "Don't!" Violet cautioned, making her red haired sister pause.

"Leave us," seeing her own face would be enough to suspect her family, but this was something that Misty felt she had to do. Despite how Delia talked about Team Rocket and Giovanni before, Misty still held on to the hope that this had all been one big misunderstanding. After a long uncertain pause, Daisy, Violet and Lilly retreated to the basement secretly nestled beneath the old warehouse, giving Misty some time alone with their unexpected prisoner.

To be Continued

xoxox xox xoxox


Chapter 03: Secrets

It had been completely unexpected, out of the blue and yet deep down she felt she had it coming. For many years, Delia pretended to be a normal person, she was seen as cheerful and sweet, which she truly was, but the wife of a mafia lord could hardly be called normal by society and its standards. The residents of Pallet Town had taken a liking to her little cafe and were sad to see it close when she felt the need to retire despite her eyes still holding the sparkle of youth just as strongly as ten years ago.

Ash's journey was over and so was her place in the outside world, her role of assisting him in his rise to power. After Ash's victory at the Indigo League she stayed in Pallet only for a few months until Giovanni urged her to return, emphasizing that there was no reason for her to come and go between her two roles and could put that secondary role that had become so primary to rest. She could return to his side completely. It was over.

Delia expected to see anger when the person who kidnapped her from the peaceful little villa lifted off her blindfold. She expected to see the enraged face of a criminal out for vengeance. A part of her also expected the hurt eyes of one of Team Rocket's unjust victims, but she kept telling herself that she could do nothing about it, while the more sincere and less mercifully hypocritical part of her brain told her that she simply didn't want to do anything. Her family was everything and they would just have to be enough.

Instead of all her expectations, which were not too cheerful to begin with, but were at least logical, Delia found a familiar face. Her eyes widened as she stared into the confused expression of a young woman she had met long ago. Delia had only seen Misty a few times during the past decade, on less than half as many occasions as Ash had seen her, not that the two had spent too much time together.

Ash and Misty were always happy to see each other, and always conscious of their respective secrets while remaining unaware of the other's. From Misty's perspective, though still his optimistic self, Ash had become more focused, just a little more serious and that gave him an air of distance. He was training, he was busy, he had no time to travel slowly from one location to another, instead rushing from one public challenge to the next in a select few formal events, then disappearing into a secret training routine that the next generation of young trainers could only theorize about dreamily, or at least that's what it looked like.

Misty felt that he wasn't out for adventuring anymore as much as he was out for improvement. Ash was well known, he had a reputation to maintain and Misty had a well camouflaged criminal record with her name on it that would surely be brought to light if she was seen with Ash. A gym leader charged with the crime of being a vigilante taking justice into her own hands and overstepping the authorities along with several other offenses, some being true and others false, was one thing.

Yet to have the same gym leader associated with the new champion who shocked the world by defeating Lance only to be apparently, too humble to take the title of champion formally was too much. His record had to remain without blemish, or else the kids wouldn't want to collect all those little Pokemon League cards, figurines and what not, which Ash was pushed to advertise, even the classic poke-Os cereals would suffer if its spokesperson was seen with a criminal, righteous or not. He was a little avoidant; she noticed it, accepted it and added to it, not truly bothered by it as she thought it was his natural response to her own avoidance which in reality flew over his head.

"Misty?" The name weighed heavily in Delia's voice as if the very sound waves that carried it would shatter. A million questions ran through her mind, but she could hardly voice them incoherent and incomplete. "Why are you? Where? Is this?"

"Who are you?" Misty cut in; her expression absolutely sour and almost fearful of the truth. "Please tell me the truth, who are you, please!" She was near the point of tears. The danger of being a vigilante didn't faze her like this, even the thought of crossing the line and performing an abduction, though it bothered her at first, was reconciled with her conscience when she excused it convincing herself that it was for the greater good. Yet this memory of times gone by, the precious memory of the traveling boy and his kind mother, Misty didn't want it to be tainted.

"I am who you think," Delia admitted, thinking that she had no right to deny it; she simply couldn't bring herself to do so. "The Azure Alliance... It started out as a group that protected water pokemon and you were openly involved in it. After a conflict with a small gang in this area, the alliance apparently dissolved. Later, a group of vigilantes emerged by the same name, but the Waterflower sisters denied any involvement with them. The leader was supposedly caught and arrested, but he wasn't the real leader, either that or a new leader was elected and the group became more hidden. I really thought that you had broken free of it, or that it was true that you never participated in the lawless version of the group."

"Even so, you're rather informed," Misty frowned, still busy with the task of taking in the shock she received with the revelation. "Then you really are his wife, you married Giovanni." Misty shook her head, trying to force the fact to sink in. It makes sense I suppose. Ash seemed stressed when I saw him a few days after his victory. I thought the press was getting to him, I only saw him for a short time, a very short time every few months, that's as often as I've seen him for the last ten years. Could the source of his stress been his new family situation?"

Delia remained silent and allowed Misty to continue with her theories. The redhead shook her head in disapproval. Of course, Ash is the champion, a position of power, if Giovanni got close to the mother, he could get close to the son. That's why Ash refused the title and instead asked Lance to continue serving as Kanto and Johto's champion, isn't it? He didn't want to be used even if you've been tricked, even if..." Misty was silenced by the fierce look Delia was giving her. Her heart felt like it stopped cold.

"Giovanni and I were married before you existed in the world," Delia snapped sharply. She immediately regretted it, being someone to feel the pain of guilt quite vividly upon gazing into someone's hurt expression. Besides, she was saying too much, what the Azure Alliance didn't know, they didn't need to find out.

Misty slowly processed what she heard; she had received too many shocks for a single day. "His father..." she let out a breath. It made sense, it was only logical, they were married from beyond the beginning of her lifetime, and therefore Ash's lifetime and they were still together, thus making it the only logical conclusion. Ash was Giovanni's son. Following Ash's victory, Misty wondered why he didn't take the title of champion, she didn't understand given how strongly Ash wanted to be the best. Then it suddenly made sense. "No... Is he being forced to quit? Is Ash leaving his career for Team Rocket?"

Delia sighed in exasperation, "you insist on making them the bad guys. Team Rocket is no more pure evil than a band of average fugitives is pure good." Her tone was even, the sugary sweetness that characterized her flowing back into her voice as she had the chance to calm down a little.

Misty opened her mouth to speak and promptly closed it again, it was clear that the fugitives Delia was referring to were the Azure Alliance, though lawless, Misty preferred to think of the organization as vigilantes. She took a deep breath, counted to ten and decided that throwing out accusations wouldn't do anyone any good. "I suppose I don't know the whole picture," she admitted, "but I know as much as the general public knows and a little more."

"That is not enough to judge each individual," Delia argued without any edge in her voice. "I don't mean to be a hypocrite," she voiced sincerely, "I know I'm not a model citizen with what I've seen and permitted, thinking I could do nothing. I know I'm selfish to seek the happiness of my family at all costs, even at the cost of other people. I'm not going to tell you I'm right, but I can at least assure you that I know where my loyalties lie. I can also say that I really, honestly, never want to see you as an enemy of Team Rocket. If you must chase a righteous purpose as I once thought of doing years ago, then I can't stop you, but know it's not an easy path and temptations are all around."

"Loyalty," Misty repeated the word that had such an odd ring to it. When one thought of loyalty, a virtuous characteristic in itself, one thought of someone good, someone just, not the mafia, not kidnappers. Yet everyone, criminal or innocent, had their own loyalties and priorities. "I have loyalties too," Misty admitted, finding strength in that mutual understanding.

"About Ash..." Delia brought up the subject worriedly. "It could harm him if this was made public, not that it's a complete secret, but the general public doesn't need to know. Please don't try to interfere with that." Delia's tone of voice made it clear that this was not a threat, but a protective warning. "Please, Misty, don't."

"I have no intentions of negatively affecting Ash... or taking any actions at all, not until I sort things out." Hasty actions could lead to terrible mistakes. The thought of such a situation reminded her that it was time to move if she was going to avoid the progression of the Azure Alliance's plans for a while longer until she could clear her head. She knew that though hidden, her sisters were listening. She wasn't going to hand over Delia as a bargaining chip to the unknown person that their anonymous informant promised to send along.

There was a quiet moment followed by the shattering of silence as the unmistakable sound of sirens filled the air. The other Waterflowers, paying no mind to their lack of masks any longer, rushed to join their younger sister on the top level as the police shouted from outside. "You're surrounded, come out with your hands on your head!"

The threat from the megaphone was ignored in favor of some running in circles from the three oldest Waterflowers and a hasty untying of their prisoner in Misty's part. The situation felt crazy, but then again, so is the life of a vigilante. "It won't do either of us any good if the police has you. Please don't try to flee from us," just as Delia had warned before, foretelling of dire consequences should the warning be ignored, Misty did so this time.

"I understand," Delia stretched, rubbing her wrists.

"The basement is like a dead end," Lilly pointed out what all her sisters already knew, to emphasize the intensity of their predicament.

"We'll have to fight our way through; it looks like we were betrayed." Misty concluded too late, her expression was filled with frustration.

"The police couldn't like kidnap her," Daisy put the rest of the plot together; her and her sisters' fright and frustration clear in their faces.

"But they can like take her from us and like keep her in custody!" Violet finished voicing the conclusion. It was all a trap, the Azure Alliance had been played into pulling off the move the police couldn't manage.

"Calm down, we need to stay on top of things..." Misty desperately insisted. It felt like a lose-lose situation, if they fought the police they really would be the bad guys. Their so called minor crimes would escalate into a level where they couldn't use influence and a good lawyer to avoid being detained.

"I'm sure by now Team Rocket knows I'm with the Azure Alliance," Delia stated, her sweet voice not matching the level of urgency that the situation demanded. She knew how to take hold of her feelings and keep calm when she had to, a skill that she picked up perhaps out of necessity. "We need to flee, I won't try to run off, I'll help in any way I can." Being rescued from vigilantes would be easier on her and less troublesome for Team Rocket than being rescued from the police. "I can talk to Giovanni, we can arrange something."

The three oldest Waterflowers remained in shocked silence while Misty processed the offer. Yes, sweet kind Delia was a lady of the mafia, even in captivity; she knew how to throw out an irrefutable offer with many implications. "In other words we're in over our necks and the police is the least of our worries. Furthermore, if the authorities get you because of us, Team Rocket's wrath will be merciless and our best bet right now is to follow your lead?"

Delia smiled, again with too much sweetness for the situation, "yes, exactly, I need your help to get safely home and you need my help to avoid a life time in prison. It's good to have you working with me, let's try our best."

Daisy's jaw dropped, "when did she become like the boss?"

Misty groaned, "it's our fault for taking stupid risks and thinking we can get away with it all for the sake of our desperate vengeance. The tables have turned and since we're otherwise sunk anyway, we'll have to listen to her." She looked at Delia, clearly displeased with the fact that they were surrounded, the door to the warehouse would soon be forced off its hinges, catching them all in a pretty bad situation.

Delia nodded, her sweetness turning to determination. "Very well, I will leave the strategizing in battle to you. Let's make an escape route as best we can."

To be Continued

xoxox xox xoxox


Chapter 04: Revelations

The gusts of wind in that particular altitude were harsh, especially given the traveling speed, but Ash didn't care. Faster Charizard!" He urged almost desperately as he clung to his pokemon and Pikachu clung to him, both trying to avoid falling to the ground far below.

Naturally, Team Rocket had information gatherers scattered about. Hacking into the radio frequencies of the police was not hard with their technology. It was that which revealed the location of the Azure Alliance's hiding place. The question still remained as to why the police knew where they were and fueled the theory that the police might have been manipulating the Azure Alliance from the shadows. Either way, they had gone too far, this was personal and those vigilantes would be stopped permanently.

At top speed, Ash finally arrived at the hideout in the outskirts of Fuchsia City, near the coast. The old warehouse was easily identifiable as the place he was looking for, due to it being surrounded by a multitude of police officers, cars, motorcycles and police trained pokemon. "All they're missing is the tanks," Ash muttered bitterly, though he knew his father could provide plenty of those if his mother wasn't safely returned to him soon.

"Let's go down to the main door, I'll need to have a word with the officer in charge." Following Ash's instructions, Charizard swiftly landed in front of a shocked officer Jenny. "Are you leading this operation?" Far from leaving any open room to be questioned, Ash's tone demanded to speak with the one in charge.

"Yes," Jenny almost stuttered, before she remembered who she was and in what position she stood. Sure, Ash was the Indigo League champion, everyone recognized him these days, but he too was under the law. "You can't be here."

"I heard my mother was taken hostage for ransom," Ash stated, cutting into Jenny's speech with a tone that made her and all the other officer's present feel forced to listen. The identity of Ash's mother was known to the general population, who thought his father had passed away many years ago, before he became a public figure. "I don't want her to be harmed, that's why I'm here."

Jenny tried to gain her authority once more. This wasn't the way she usually was, no one made her feel so small like this young man's atmosphere of authority did. It was unnerving. "The police will handle the situation." She had to follow the protocol even if she knew who he was, the son of Giovanni, though revealing that fact would only bring repercussions if they had nothing to bargain with against the criminal mastermind himself.

"I won't risk it," it was obvious that Ash would not permit anyone to kick him off the scene, regardless of how many laws he might be breaking by disregarding the police's orders to leave.

Without a hint of a warning, the silence that emanated from the inside of the old warehouse was shattered along with the door itself. A current of water swept forth, knocking most of the officers off their feet and even pushing some of the lighter vehicles back. A Kingler, Dewgong, Poliwrath and Seadra stood together ready to generate another devastating team water gun.

Ash was one of the few who escaped the attack. Charizard had reacted with amazing speed, picking up his trainer and gaining considerable altitude with just one sweep of his wings. Pikachu, who had been perched on Ash's shoulders was also spared from the water offensive. "Smokescreen, thunderbolt!" Ash didn't even take notice of his mother's attackers as he had been focused on her. By the time his eyes thought to wander elsewhere, the area was already obstructed by Charizard's smoke and the atmosphere carried Pikachu's heavy voltage.

Charizard, accustomed to his own smoke, held Ash and Pikachu on one arm, grabbing Delia with the other and swiftly gained altitude above the cloud in which the officers tried to find their way out of. Once at a safe vertical distance, their lungs enjoying the fresh air beyond the smoke, Ash climbed on Charizard's back, helping his mother do the same. "Are you alright?" He gave her a quick visual examination, searching for any obvious injuries.

"I'm fine," it was clear that Delia's answer referred to the physical sense and that she was emotionally disturbed.

"We can cover this," Ash tried to console her, assuming that she was worried about the repercussions the stunt might have for Team Rocket or perhaps more so for his own image.

Delia shook her head, "the Azure Alliance... they are..." Just as Delia spoke, the smoke below cleared out with the help of a young officer's Pidgey generating a whirlwind to blow it all away. His fellow officers wouldn't criticize his choice in pokemon after this, it's not like their Growlithe did much to help. "Gone..." Delia finished. She didn't see Misty or her sisters anywhere below and it looked like the officers were also consumed by confusion.

"Over there," Ash pointed discreetly. He wanted to catch the culprits but he didn't want to hand them over to the police. He was giving them to Team Rocket. He couldn't clearly see the culprits as they swam away mostly under water, aided in speed by their pokemon. They only peeked out to the surface for short moments to take in quick breaths of air, once again disappearing beneath the soft waves of the sea. "The police probably can't see them from the ground, we can follow them."

"Ash Ketchum!" Jenny called from the ground below, clearly angered at the fact that the Azure Alliance slipped through her fingers and using them in the future would be very difficult. "Order your pokemon to come down immediately!"

Ash glared down at the officer, "my mother has been through a lot. Her health is my priority. If you want to ask questions, you'll have to wait. Or can you really be so cruel?" He was using his reputation as the beloved noble champion against them. If the press caught wind of the situation, the authorities would be severely criticized.

Besides if she went any further, given her fruitless stunt, Jenny might be uncovered as the Azure Alliance informant and manipulator, helping them with both secrets and police funds, all for the sake of taking justice into her own hands beyond what her uniform permitted. It was ironic, a vigilante that betrayed vigilantes. Jenny knew she had to let things go. "Very well..." her voice was almost inaudible under the confused and shocked expressions of the other officers.

The police had not seen in which direction the Azure Alliance escaped, they couldn't perceive the gentle movements of their trails in the water from the ground, but Ash followed the kidnappers with his eyes from the air. Flying off in the direction of Cinnabar Island, which appeared to be the enemy's intended runaway destination, wouldn't be odd. Giovanni had luxurious residences everywhere, the tourist trap island included. "Charizard, let's head over to Cinnabar Island or wherever they're heading. Stay hidden above the clouds, but don't lose them."

Charizard let out a low growl of acceptance and loyalty, proud to help the trainer that had earned his respect through hard work. The large fire pokemon followed Ash's instructions, staying hidden above and keeping his well trained eyes on the ones he was following.

"About the kidnappers," Delia breathed, it was best to warn Ash of who he was dealing with before he found out for himself.

"Don't worry, I won't let them hurt you," Ash assured with a certain threatening tone directed at anyone who might try to lay a harmful hand on her. He reminded her of Giovanni. "I wish I could stop to drop you off, but that might mean losing them and I can't let them run free after they took you hostage. I can't let this happen again."

"Ash, listen to me," Delia raised her tone momentarily in a voice she used when communicating something vital. Ash turned to look back to where his mother sat behind him, arms around her son's torso in a motherly hug both to prevent falling and to give and receive comfort. "Those people are the Waterflower sisters. Misty never left the Azure Alliance nor was the name stolen from her past organization, it's the same group with a new purpose and I would imagine new members. I don't know how many there are, but at least the Waterflowers are directly involved."

Delia could feel Ash's heart beat faster, his face full of perplexity and betrayal. "Misty..." Denial was to follow, then anger, Delia expected it. "It can't be! You were confused, dazed, you must have made a mistake."

"There's no mistake," Delia insisted gently. "I wanted to warn you before you saw for yourself. Those people swimming down there are Misty and her sisters. They're the ones who kidnapped me. Apparently, the Azure Alliance has been getting input from the police, though they were actually being used by them. At least that's what I could gather from what I heard."

The revelation left Ash in shock. Before he could fully absorb the fact that Misty was now an enemy of Team Rocket, something else stood out to Ash. He wondered about her motivations. Would Misty go this far for the sake of justice in general or some other equally impersonal ideal? It felt like too much to do if something didn't hit close to home. "What's her motivation? Did the police push her into this? Maybe they're playing dirty, she didn't want to do this, maybe she meant to keep you safe from them."

"Are you theorizing or thinking about how to excuse her with Giovanni?" Delia was sincerely unsure which of the two it was.

Ash remained silent because he didn't have an answer to that question. He really didn't want to have Misty as his enemy; he had many fond memories of their friendship and his childhood crush. They've grown a little distant in the past ten years, but she was never forgotten and when her memory would surface from time to time she was truly missed.

Misty and her sisters finally reached what could be considered the 'backside' of Cinnabar Island, if there was such a thing. It was a desolate area lacking the constant coming and going of tourist filled ferries. The cliff was stiff and hard to climb. It was part of a volcano, though it looked more like a giant wall from that perspective. Four human heads surfaced above the waves moving back and forth gently against the wall. They made their way around the natural structure until they reached a cavern that eradiated warmth due to the lava that lay a few feet away with layers of thick stone in between.

Unknown to them, the Waterflower sisters were being watched by a perplexed young man upon his Charizard. "It really is them... Until the last second I was hoping it was all a mistake," Ash let out a breath of disappointment. "It could still be; they could have an explanation.

"I honestly don't understand the nature of their apparent vendetta against Team Rocket," Delia paused and rephrased her statement. "Of course there's the entire enemy of society and major criminal organization angle, but Misty said something about a desperate vengeance that caught me off guard. I honestly can't understand what that's about, it did sound personal, but I can't remember Team Rocket affecting Misty or her family in a direct way."

"Well, we're about to find out, let's go down Charizard." With confusion still present and the tension rising, Ash kept his eyes on the cavern as Charizard approached it. The fire pokemon landed with relative silence, though if the inhabitants of the cavern were alert enough, they would pick up on the soft thud of his landing. "Get some rest," Ash whispered as he recalled the large pokemon into his pokeball in a red beam that faded back into the cavern's darkness.

The darkness was once again pierced by light when misty stepped forward holding a flashlight. The voice of one of her sisters called out her name, but she insisted, "just go!" Then turned to face those who stood before her, guarding the escape route her sisters took. "I'll take sole responsibility," she offered bitterly.

Ash shook his head, feeling quite out of place in such an unexpected situation. "I'm not here to hunt you down; I'm here to get some answers." He took a deep breath, not that it helped to calm him as the atmosphere was contaminated with heavy tension. "You know who mom is, you know who I am. It's only fair that I should know something too. I want to know why. I know you wouldn't do something like this without a good reason. It's not like you to be so rash, that's more like me," he admitted.

"I can't forgive him..." Misty's eyes were downcast carrying a great sadness. "I can't forgive the man who killed my parents."

A gasp escaped Delia as all the pieces fell into place in her head. What had happened took place so long ago that she unconsciously disregarded it as being unrelated to the current situation, it had been over twenty years. The event wasn't recent enough to surface in her memories until it was directly referenced.

Misty slowly looked up, her eyes traveling from the shocked Ash to his mother. Sadness, frustration, shame, realization, all those emotions and others overtook her face in varying proportions. "You just realized something, didn't you? You remembered something... You do know what I'm talking about."

With incredulity still holding on to some of his features, Ash slowly rotated his head towards his mother and waited expectantly. He didn't say anything, but pleaded for honesty with his eyes.

To be Continued