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Golden Light, Voltaic Strike (AdvanceShipping)

Discussion in 'Shipping Fics' started by Power Shot, Apr 30, 2006.

  1. Power Shot

    Power Shot Reignited with Ego!

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

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

    Golden Light, Voltaic Strike

    Rated PG-13 for alcohol and sexual themes.

    Ages-

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


    Morph One- Reunion​



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    ***

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    “Yup!”

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

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

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

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

    ***

    “AND THE WIN GOES TO…MAY BIRCH!”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    ***

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    ***

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Confused? Good, that means you have no idea how things got this way. One chapter a week will keep you all happy, this is going to be a mini series to boost the moral of theAdvanceShippers! Review if you can, it's good to be back!
     
  2. OK... guess I'll review!! I didn't see any mistakes, so... oh. That's a good thing. XD

    Aw, poor Ash!

    Well, I'm done.

    ~Kitteh ;258;
     
  3. mew151

    mew151 Thunder Trainer

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

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

    ash ketchum Active Member

    if this is anythin like After Hoenn then this is gona b 1 hell of a story. just what did Ash do 2 May that was so bad anyway? ;025;
     
  5. Agustus

    Agustus Well-Known Member

    I'm afraid that someone's gonna die soon.

    I'm anxious to see the end of this.
     
  6. Myo

    Myo Cascade Trainer

    Power SHot great story once again but i have one question, if he went away for 2 years, and Sarah is 5 doesnt that mean she should have a 3 year bond with her father? so shouldn't she know who her father is?
     
  7. Sakura-chan

    Sakura-chan +Fall of a Sakura+

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

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

    That being said, I'm awaiting the next chapter. =D
     
  8. Pokefan20010

    Pokefan20010 Was Pokefan20010!

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

    Karadur Bring it on!

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

    Jemi Rose Thunder Trainer

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

    ***************
    Would you like to marry some of your favorite characters? in either anime or movies? then check this website out www.MYFCOnline.com

    Don't worry...you can marry more than once ^^

    ~*Jemi Rose*~
     
    Last edited: May 18, 2006
  11. Power Shot

    Power Shot Reignited with Ego!

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

    Morph Two- 0

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

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

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

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

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

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

    ***

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    ***

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    “Kill?”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    ***

    “Ketchum.”

    “0.”

    “Let’s get to work.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    ***

    ...Three Years Ago...

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    “Is Daddy mad?” May asked, laughing.

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

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

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

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

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

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

    ***

    ...Present...

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

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

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

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

    ***

    ...Three Years Ago...

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

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

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

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

    “What?”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    The 0 Gauntlets glowed.

    ***

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Review if ya can!
     
  12. Karadur

    Karadur Bring it on!

    loved the chapter.Very descriptive too.Keep the great work up!
     
  13. Ledian_X

    Ledian_X Don Ledianni

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

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

    LX
     
  14. Power Shot

    Power Shot Reignited with Ego!

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

    Morph Three- Explosions


    “Keeping a close watch on her, right?”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    A future he had denied himself.

    ***

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

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

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

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

    0 had a lot of time to think.

    ***

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    ***

    Ketchum.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    ***

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    There was not reply.

    “0!”

    Again, the link was silent.

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

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

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

    ***

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Just as the elevator plunged down into nothingness.

    ***

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    “Momma?”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Morph Four- Tsunami Coming Soon!
     
  15. Jemi Rose

    Jemi Rose Thunder Trainer

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

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

    Would you like to marry some of your favorite characters? in either anime or movies? then check this website out www.MYFCOnline.com
     
    Last edited: May 14, 2006
  16. Power Shot

    Power Shot Reignited with Ego!

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

    [SPOIL]Darkness spiraled around him, enveloping him in the despair around him. The terrorists, there was no stopping them now. They would find her, they would kill them, and all he could do was stand there and pity himself for not realizing it soon enough.

    They were all going to die.

    Ash glanced down at the man in his lap, seeing the death in his eyes, seeing the darkness, the finality, of 0's last stand. The result of a lifetime protecting the innocent, it had brought 0 nothing but death and destruction. He watched as the Spirit Morphers died with the man, the Pokemon within them losing the struggle to continue. They would both die as a team.

    Pikachu sat on his shoulder, watching the spiraling madness surrounding them. It shook its head at the senseless destruction, the chaos as the center fell apart around them, the uselessness within its soul, and its trainer. "Pi," it muttered, eyes glazed over the dead Ranger before them.

    Ash clanched his gloved fists, for all the mess his life was, the hell that 0 had made for him, at least 0 had never given up, even in death. His face was peaceful, but determined, the look that he had had so often behind the mask. "It was all for nothing," he growled, holding the man against him. "You died for nothing, and now you want me to die too?"

    0 could say nothing, he was dead, but it was clear even to Ash what the man had wanted, to continue the fight, to find someone who would fight when the hope was lost, when faith was gone, and who could turn the tides of the tsunami the Festival had become.

    "I need to save them," Ash cried, feeling a tear in his eye. "I need to save the woman whose heart I broke, my friends who abandoned me, and the daughter who will never know me! How can this be fair, when we can save the world?"

    0 was still, silent.

    "I have to do it, but it'll destroy me to be him," Ash said, turning his hands to fists. "I have to be him again, where he can't be."

    Pikachu nodded, it knew its fate as well. Their future was together, for better or worse, they were partners.

    "I must become 0," Ash finished, feeling the gloves in his hands. Soon they would become the Spirit Morphers, soon he would become what he had sworn never to do. Soon he could save May and Sarah. "I am the new 0."[/SPOIL]

    YES! Note, changes will most likely be made, just felt like getting that off my chest!
     
  17. mew151

    mew151 Thunder Trainer

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

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

    Jemi Rose Thunder Trainer

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

    ~*Jemi Rose*~
     
  19. HarleyScarow

    HarleyScarow Emerald Shinigami

    This thing is good so far! You make it long but not boring!
     
  20. Power Shot

    Power Shot Reignited with Ego!

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

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

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

    Morph Four- Tsunami

    “Ash!”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    When you made him leave.

    ***

    “What do you think Pikachu?”

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

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

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

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

    “Chu.”

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

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

    Ash sighed, could he ever truly be happy?

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

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

    “Yes?”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    “Anymore?”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    ***

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

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

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

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

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

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

    He felt longing.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    “It really suits you.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    “It’s a bet then.”

    ***

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    ***

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    He leapt up, just as the missile fired.

    ***

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    ***

    Ash shouted in frustration.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    The world glowed golden.

    ***

    “Help!”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    May screamed again, as the fist came down hard.

    ***

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

    It was 0.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    0 had been reborn.

    And he was very, very angry.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    “What’s that?”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    And I'm out! Read the Shattered Sword for more super hero action in the latest chapter!
     
    Last edited by a moderator: May 25, 2006

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