Hello, ladies and gentlemen. This story, PKM Rangers, began when I was fifteen years old and unsure of the direction of my life. Having read a lot of fan-fiction on the Internet, it was my intent when writing this story to attempt new things in what a writer could do with a relationship story and a fan-fiction story. Whether I succeed or not depends entirely on your tastes, of course, and it is true there is no single original thought left in the world today. But it is my hope that in the years I have been writing and rewriting this story there exists some creativity that entertains you, as that is always my intent. At the age of twenty-three, one might think it a good idea to give up on the joys that captivated my childhood, but I always swear to be a fan of Power Rangers and Pokemon until the day I die. Despite my frequent pauses in writing this story (real life has become more difficult with each passing year) it is my intent that this story is one day completed, and I hope you join me on my journey to finish it.
This is an updated version of the original story, which is probably still available somewhere on the Internet (on Serebii), and this updated manuscript was completed with help from LuciferIX, without whom I might not have ever returned to continue this story. I decided to create a thread for the story on this website, given that I am exceedingly prone to not doing work on it, and hopefully by making it available to a wider audience I will encourage myself to finish it.
PKM Rangers was originally M-rated, as it began at a time in my life when I was immature and wanted to shock people. This updated version is T-rated for violent scenes and some sexual situations. A great deal of effort has been placed into this change, so if you have the time try to drop me a review letting me know if my changes were worth it. The ages for the (current) primary characters of the story are as follows:
Agent 1078: 28
May Birch: 28
Sarah Birch: 5
Max Birch: 25
Brock Harrison: 33
And without further ado, enjoy...
Morph One: The Man From Nowhere
The dark man walked towards the towering building, his face shrouded in shadows. No one stopped him, no one asked directions, no one interfered in the least as he walked forward, interested only in the convention center in front of him. His dark attention was firmly fixed on the giant double-doors before him. Hands in his pockets, he slugged forward, his shoulders shifting from side to side as he swayed. He barely noticed the other creature standing on his shoulder, a quiet yellow mouse about the size of a basketball that took in the center through its beady little eyes, its nose checking the scents of the venders and the wares inside. The man didn't notice, and pulled one gloved hand out of his pocket, slamming his palm against the clear glass door, and hot air blasted at him, an alteration from the cold, crisp air of the January morning. Shrugging off the new heat, the man walked into the center, the door falling back after him as he relieved the tension that his hand exerted, and placed his hand back in the pockets of his dark pants.
It had been a while since he had stopped traveling, since he had stopped his journeys and explorations with his friends. He had pursued a different goal in life than Max or Brock. He had found another path, separate from Misty or Tracey. They had all done what they had wanted with their lives, and were still doing it. Dawn, after all, hadn't fallen from light. She was a coordinator now, like another, certain someone that the dark man knew. It had been a while since he had seen Brock, Max, even Gary. It had been a while since he had been home, or even had a place to call home. He was on a "break," a break that had been standing for about two years now, without showing signs of stopping. But he didn't know if he wanted it to stop, because even if he did, nothing could be done. For a long while now, his only friend was the one sitting on his shoulder, looking through the vast crowd of people that was swooning around, searching for any signs of the dark man's old friends.
The young man hadn't changed much since the old days, when he had been excited, an eager trainer waiting to make his mark in the world, to become the greatest Pokemon Master ever born. Except that he wasn't the greatest Pokemon Master ever born. Drawing influence on the dark man's personality, his clothes would not have been out of place in an otaku conference. He had ditched the hat, first of all, tired of the trademarked look. His hair was now free, and mostly unkempt, several times its original mass, though it still stuck up like it used to in the old days. Most of it was tied in a ponytail, which served no purpose other than to direct the unkempt hair in the correct direction. Instead of the hood and the nice shirts he had worn in the days past, a plain yellow t-shirt fluttered around his stomach with each step. The pants were black and baggy, rather than dark blue and neat, but beneath them steel-toed combat boots clunked against the polished floors he walked on.
There really wasn't anything interesting about him. He was above-average in height, a few inches above six feet. The baggy outfit the man wore concealed the broad and powerful muscles he had, and did exactly as it was designed to do, hide his physique. A chain jingled around his neck, made of what appeared to be either silver or stainless steel, connected by interlocking links. At the end of the chain hung a simple symbol, a ring crafted out of gold that might have fit on his fourth finger, had he worn it there. The man glanced down at it, and took a deep breath. After all this time, he still felt the brutal sting of what the ring symbolized. But what did he expect, to wake up one day and the pain wouldn't be there?
"Damn," his muttered, looking up once more from the ring. He felt it hit his chest every time he moved. The pain was stronger here, in this place. He looked around, watching the people, knowing that he shouldn't, but secretly hoped, that he would see her again. It wasn't as though he didn't have some form of contact with her, he did, after all, have to send the check to her every month, his precious money which, by order of law, he was required to pay, handing her money which paid for someone he wasn't even allowed to see. He almost, but not quite, chuckled at the irony of how his money was used. Sometimes that was just the thing about life, in that it could sometimes kill you with stupid irony.
The mouse riding atop his shoulder, an electric type, looked at him with its beady eyes. His eternal companion, its red cheeks sparked as it checked him out, making sure that its trainer was alright. At the same time, its small, long ears perked, listening in for something, or someone. Its tail, shaped like a powerful lightning bolt, stuck out from the back of the man's head, or, at least, it looked that way if you were on the right side of the man. It too, looked older, but it still held the spark that the dark man had forgotten.
The man looked around, then sighed again. "So, where is she?" he muttered, looking up at the atrium's main arch. He had been walking down it, the atrium was just one of many entrances to the center, heading towards the battle arenas. A sign was draped over the atrium's exit, proclaiming Saffron City Pokemon Contest- Invitation Only in bright purple lettering. The mouse on his shoulder issued a squeak with an eager "Pika!" The man just shook his head, and scratched his chin with one gloved finger. "Well, I hope she brought Sarah. You shouldn't leave a little girl at home alone." Picking up his feet once more, he made his way through the columned atrium's exit, and entered the convention center's main battle arena section.
At once, the moment he left the comparatively quiet area of the atrium, bright lights issued from all round him, colors swirling in front of him. He could see everything: people fleeing across the floors in search of food, circles of spectators watching as below them, contests were being won and lost, thanks to some ingenious design in the center's layout that had battles below, with glass ceilings above where the spectators watched, allowing for more focus, as the combatants couldn't hear the cheers or boos their performance generated. The dark man passed over the battles, mostly ignoring them, as he headed for the registration booths to pick up an identification badge. There are way too many people here. The man yawned at the thought, he was getting bored already. Sighting the booths over on the other side of the center, amidst a sea of people standing in line waiting for them, so that they too might partake of the festivities and watch the matches. Making his way over to the area, the dark man turned to the yellow rodent. "Are you sure she'll be here, Pikachu?" he asked.
As the dark man blatantly ignored the long line to retrieve an all-access badge, and headed straight up to the receptionists, the mouse nodded. "Pi!" it squeaked, confirming exactly what the man had said. Its eyes were scanning the floors below, the contest matches that were taking place, in search for her, or any other familiar faces in the crowds. The man knew she would be here, of course, since she was one of the top coordinators from Hoenn, but he really didn't want to catch her at an inopportune time. There was also a good chance that the others were here, supporting her. He didn't exactly want to see them, as he hadn't parted on good terms with them. After all, he was the one who had caused the demise of the relationship, not the other way around, and his former friends could never understand his point of view.
The people waiting in line didn't seem to take his point of view either, as a few of them were shouting at him for barging to the front of the line. As the man turned to the receptionist, a young redhead girl, he felt a strong poke jab him straight in the back. Annoyed, but not tempted to violence, the man bent his head to the girl, leaning onto the tall blue counter set up in front of her. "Reservation," he muttered, pulling out a scrap of paper from his pants pocket, and handing the folded sheet to her. "An all-access pass, please." The girl took it from him, and smiled at him with her emerald eyes.
"Just one moment," she answered, looking down to her computer terminal. The man nodded, and felt another sharp jab, this one to his lower back, followed by a vehement exclamation demanding to know exactly what the man thought he was doing and who he thought he was. If the nerd who was hitting him got any lower, the man silently decided that he would deck whoever was behind him. Fortunately, when the receptionist said to wait a moment, she really meant it, something very rare in the man's experience. "Here you go," she answered, handing the man a small, clip-on badge in the shape of a rectangle with a famous coordinator on it smiling at him. The man took it without looking and placed it into his pocket for later attachment.
"Thanks," the man grumbled, before turning around to see the offending person who had had the audacity to touch him. A tall, Goth boy, with pale face paint over his skin, with dyed raven hair was looking directly at him, a slight snarl embedded on his black lips. The dark man was unmoved. "What do you want?"
The Goth seemed angry about something. "I want to know why you think you can skip clear to the head of the line without waiting like the rest of us," he demanded, his various chains jiggling all over his dark attire as he shook his fist at the dark man. "What makes you better than us?" The crowd chorused its agreement.
The man considered answering them, but decided against it. Instead, he turned towards the mouse riding on his shoulder. "Want to get something to drink? I'm thirsty." he asked it, deliberately dodging the question the Goth had so kindly wanted him to answer. The mouse nodded, issuing one squeaking "Pi!" The dark man nodded, and began to scan the surroundings for the nearest drinking establishment. One caught his attention, a bar made up in the theme of a Orre cantina, that he liked the look of. The double doors were open, so he started walking forward, leaving the line without another word. What is this, a nerd convention? I would think she would have a better rep. He decided against asking anyone, including himself, the answer to that question, considering that he himself came here every year, so that would make him one of the 'nerds' that frequented these kinds of events.
"When's our first match?" the dark man muttered, shifting his face to look at the Pikachu. The little mouse shook its even smaller shoulders, and gave out a long stream of squeaks and murmurs, all of which either used the whole or part of the word "Pikachu." The man nodded. "I'll consult the chart later. They said I wouldn't start until tomorrow anyway." Both trainer and Pokemon made their way through the public, the man making sure that he didn't draw any attention. He didn't want anyone to recognize him. That was the precise reason that he had grown out his hair and changed his clothes from the ones commonly associated with him. He preferred privacy, one of the main reasons he kept such small contact with other people, and why he dressed himself differently. He didn't want the paparazzi after him, the media hounds that had ruined his life once. It had taken an entire year to ditch them. Now, he blended into the crowd, another passing, forgettable face.
The dark man pushed open the revolving doors to the bar, and took in the scent of cheap booze and drunks. This was one of his safe havens, a place that he go could to without being hounded, where he could enjoy the simpler things of life, and for a few hours just forget about his problems. The atmosphere was hazy, the reek of tobacco beckoning him from all over, swirls of smoke tracing the wooden ceiling above him. The TV was muted, but turned onto some coverage channel, most likely one of the matches that was going on. Twenty people were assembled in the dank bar, not counting the bartender, all of them staring into their bottles of hooch, or at the screen, where a Blaziken was blasting an Aipom with a Blaze Kick, followed by a Sky Uppercut. The man ignored the drunks, who all seemed to be slewing in some sort of misery. He had his own problems, so he didn't engage any of them in conversation, as they could get the impression he cared. He heaved himself forward, and took a solitary seat on one of the barstools in front of the bartender. Pikachu, mimicking its trainer, hopped off its perch, and settled down on the table in a laid-down position.
The man opened his mouth. "Give me the darkest beer you've got," he grunted, looking up at the bartender. "Now." The man placed a hand in his pockets, drawing forth a few bills and his access badge. The bartender took them up, and peered over the information, studying the dark man's face. When he was satisfied, the bartender handed the badge back to the man, and took the money.
The bartender, a grubby looking man with an eye patch over the left side of his face, nodded his head, pushing back the blond locks of his hair. "Coming right up," he answered politely, but with a slight growl. The dark man nodded, and the barkeep walked towards the old fashioned register next to the taps, ringing up the sale, and collecting the change from the tin. The bartender grabbed a mug from under the counter, and took out the tap for the darkest Orre swill he had. Pressing down on the button attached to the nozzle, a steady stream of dark beer poured into the cup. The keep tilted the mug, the foam falling out onto the floor as the container was filled. When the mug was full, the bartender raised his other arm and coughed hard, making sure to keep it away from the drink. The bartender then placed the drink down onto the shiny surface of the counter, and shoved it down towards the dark man, who caught it without glancing at the bartender.
"Here's your change," the one-eyed man muttered, handing back a few coins to the other, who just took them in his gloved hand and pocketed them. The man stared at the drink, while the bartender reached into his pocket to obtain the pack of smokes he kept in his pants, along with a small lighter with the image of a naked woman embossed on the surface. He opened the pack and grabbed one of the slim joints, shoving it into his yellowed, stained mouth, placing the pack back into his pocket and lighting the smoke with the flames from his lighter. Putting the lighter back, the bartender took a deep drag from the cigarette, before removing it from his mouth to blow more of the carbon monoxide-created haze into the air.
The dark man looked up to the bartender, who appeared to be immensely enjoying the burning joint, and made a slight face of disgust with his mouth. "You know, that's bad for you," he said with a solemn voice, before raising the tankard of beer to his lips. As the bartender watched, the man took a deep draught from the mug, emptying about a fourth of the contents into his mouth. He stopped to let the alcohol take its natural course, as drinking too much at once was a hazard, and set the tankard down.
The bartender laughed. "Yeah, the alcoholic tell the smoker that what he does is bad," he coughed. The dark man joined in, chuckling at the irony with him. "What I do to myself ain't much worse then what you do to yourself, ya know."
The dark man nodded. "I'm not an alcoholic, buddy," he replied, raising the glass once more. "I just like the taste is all." The barkeep chortled as the man made about half the contents of the tankard's original amount of liquid vanish mysteriously into his stomach. "Hey, you want some, Pikachu?" The mouse looked up, but shook its head. "Give my friend here a glass of milk." At this, the rodent nodded vigorously. The bartender just sighed, but got out a platter of milk for the Pokemon. Pikachu gave out an almighty squeak of thanks to its trainer, before it shoved its face into the drink and inhaled. The dark trainer fished out another few bucks, and passed them to the barkeep. "So, what's going on there?" he asked, pointing towards the television in the corner. The Blaziken had defeated the Aipom, and a play-by-play of the last move was being displayed, along with the scores.
The barkeep shook his head in confusion. "Don't ya know who that is?" he asked, pointing a finger at the screen. "That's the girl who's gotten the most bets placed on her. She's the favorite to win this year's Contest." The dark trainer grunted in acknowledgment, as a new picture came on the screen, displaying the girl in question. "The Contest started today, with the semifinals and finals taking place tomorrow. This kind of event is pretty good for me, 'cause most people come here ta drown their sorrows after losing in some booze."
The man wasn't paying attention to what the bartender was saying, focusing his attention on the woman in the picture, who was waving energetically and smiling. Her soft auburn hair fell down, slightly obscuring the azure eyes that were sparkling with triumph. She had grown out her hair, he noticed, since he had last seen her.
The dark man finished the glass, draining every last drop down his throat. "I suppose you are right," he muttered, staring through the empty bottom of the mug. "I'm one of the contestants, and it ain't exactly a peachy day for me either." The man looked down at the badge he had taken from the registration booth, and groaned aloud. The coordinator he had just seen on the TV stared back at him, her face fixed into a smiling grin, with two fingers sticking out of her fist, making the bunny signal.
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Deep, deep down, Max Birch loved his niece. Honest to goodness he did. He had been there when she was born, and had personally overseen her childhood with May for the last two years. He was perfectly willing to do whatever he could to protect her, and would do almost anything for her. This did not, however, change the fact that he would have done practically anything to avoid guard duty when May was off doing a match in the Contest.
Sarah Birch, the single most energetic girl that Max had ever met, gripped her uncle's hand with a strength that didn't seem to Max normal from a five-year-old. Plowing through the crowd, Max made certain that he didn't lose track of her, partially because he was a loving and caring uncle, but mostly because of the threat the little girl's overprotective mother had administered to him prior to heading for her match. Max chuckled sheepishly, keeping an eye on the little girl so that she wouldn't cause any trouble, one of the single greatest challenges he had ever faced.
Why May always picked him for guard duty, he never knew, though silently he screamed in exhaustion as Sarah somehow got behind him, and he suddenly felt a slight burden on his shoulders as she leapt up. Max groaned as he felt his eardrums burst, Sarah shouting for a piggyback ride as though he was standing on the opposite side of a battlefield. Already, his dark jade shirt was creasing, and beads of sweat fell from his face. His feet ached, an after-affect from chasing the little girl around. He needed to recuperate. "Hey, think we can sit down for a sec?" he asked, panting vigorously.
She giggled, grabbing the front of his neck as he tucked her little legs under his arms. "Yee-hah! Go, Uncle Max, go!" she squealed, kicking him hard in the side, like a cowboy spurs a Ponyta. Max reared in shock, but reluctantly neighed for the girl as he lumbered in the direction of the nearest place to sit. He looked around quickly, as he needed a place that would both let him sit and keep Sarah occupied. Deciding that his back was more important than spoiling dinner for Sarah, Max buckled towards an open food court, which seemed to house all sorts of different venders selling stuff. Passing through the crowd, Max panted as he approached one of the booths, and set the girl on his shoulders down onto one side of the table atop the large cushioned seat that spanned the outside of the table. She bounced around happily as Max deposited himself on the other side, panting roughly, and wiping his brow.
Sarah, easily distracted, looked in the direction of one of the arenas, where someone was losing. It was an exhibition battle, not part of the actual tournament, but the little girl turned towards Max, and smiled. "Is Mommy gonna win?" she asked, her high, assertive voice trailing over all the commotion going on around them. She dropped her head and popped onto the table, though her eyes remained trained on her uncle.
Max grinned, and raised his thumb. "She'd better win, or we're all gonna be in big, big trouble," he replied, pushing himself into an upright sitting position. It wasn't that he didn't mind babysitting Sarah, it was just that she somehow always managed to make him feel so old. Living with and watching a baby niece was definitely one of those things that could put grey hairs on Max's head, though thankfully the dark locks had remained intact since his old journeying days. They were a little longer now, and needed occasional brushing out of the eyes, but were otherwise fine. Max still wore glasses, though the style he had now was thinner and narrower than the kinds he had worn as a child. Sighing, he adjusted the lenses, making sure that they were firmly attached to his head. Blindness was not a good thing when watching Sarah. "You want something to eat?" Max looked round the venders, taking stock of what each was selling. "I think one of these guys should have some pizza for ya."
Sarah, at the very mention of the word 'pizza', changed, suddenly beginning to drool from her mouth, her foot shaking itself into a frenzy. "Pitza!" she shouted happily, mispronouncing the word as she always did, raising her arms. She hadn't learned yet how to properly say her favorite food, but she was far too cute when she said it for anyone to correct her. "Pitza!"
Max chuckled, shaking his head. "Sure thing, kid," he replied, rising from where he was sitting. He spotted the pizza vender, which wasn't that far from where they were, only a few feet away. Sarah jumped up from her seat, and followed her uncle, grabbing his larger hand as they went. The vender, a large man, whose lower face was covered by an unbelievably heavy, thick, auburn moustache. Max thought the man smiled, as the hair inclined upwards at the edges when they approached.
"Tell him what you want, squirt," Max said, nudging her forward.
As Sarah, in rampart detail, explained to the vender exactly what she wanted, Max looked at her, and smiled. He was a lucky guy to have such a cool niece in his life. And she was, of course, May's daughter, which meant that the dark, almost raven, auburn hair shined in the convention center's light, glowing with an inner beauty that plenty of guys would be stunned by when she grew up. Sarah, unlike her mother, was big on the shopping deal, having inherited the feminine gene from her grandmother that drove crazy women to shop. So she wore designer jeans, even though she was five, with a small yellow shirt that was tucked into her pants. She even had running shoes on her feet. But it was probably the eyes that Max always noticed the most when he saw her. Eyes that could freeze a Charizard in its tracks. Pools of midnight black, which carried a strange combination of fierceness and gentleness.
They were his, the eyes of her father, and Max knew well enough not to mention them. Even so much as saying his name near Sarah or May warranted a death sentence according to his sister. But still, he had left his mark on his daughter, and he never ceased to feel amazed at exactly how intense the gaze was. I wonder if she even knows who her father is. It was May's revenge against him, and Max sagged his head in dismay. No matter how much I hate him, no child should be kept away from her father. Sarah looked up to him, and offered a wide smile. Max replied with a grin, and paid the vendor, taking the receipt from the man, and walked back to the booth to wait for the entire, large pizza pie that Sarah had ordered.
He sighed, staring at the ceiling. Times really have changed since it happened… As Max drifted off, Sarah began to demand attention once more, and it wasn't until a firm shoe slammed into his knee did Max return to reality, shaking his head. Sarah wanted the now-finished pizza from the vendor. Max chuckled, and nodded, rising to get it. She was such a happy child, for all she had been shielded from by her mother and family.
"Hey, Max!" The man, caught off guard, failed to notice as he was grabbed roughly in a giant, unbearably painful hug, as he set the pizza down on the table for Sarah. Max grunted in annoyance, though he knew the master of the voice. Brock Harrison squeezed a final time, before releasing Max to recover breath, laughing his head off. Max grinned, turning round to clasp the hands of his fellow Gym leader. He hadn't known that Brock would be attending, but it was a nice surprise nonetheless.
"Hey, old man," the younger man chuckled, shaking Brock's hand in welcome. Brock grinned, his fox-eyes nothing more than friendly slits on his face. They hadn't changed, just like the Brock that Max, May, and little Sarah knew and loved, his personality still bright and optimistic, if slightly more perverted than the old days, as Max could see Brock staring at one of the surrounding women out of the corner of his eyes. Brock's hair was a little longer, though it still gave someone the impression that he had stuck a pin cushion on his head and colored it brown. The spikes were longer, bent at the ends, and held up by a dark blue headband. He seemed to have gotten more tanned since Max had last seen him, and wore a dark brown vest with a navy blue shirt underneath. He wore black cargo pants, and nice, highly polished boots that in themselves qualified as a light source. "It's been a while, Brock. Good to see you."
Brock issued a giant laugh. "Same here, buddy!" he retorted, passing the younger man. "Scoot, squirt." Sarah cheered, moving hurriedly so that Brock could settle himself down next to her, and he patted her on the head, ruffling her dark auburn hair. "It's good to see you two here." He bent towards Sarah, and winked. "Now, have you been behaving for your momma, Sarah?" He pulled out a box of chocolate, a special Kanto delicacy that he gave the little girl every time he saw her.
The girl nodded, and snatched for the candy, which Brock kept just out of range. "Yes, Uncle Brock!" she squealed back. Chuckling, Brock lowered his hand, and handed her the candy, which she thoroughly inspected before tucking it away in her pants pocket. She then eyed, and began attacking, the pizza, tearing off a slice of the cheese-based product and gobbling it up.
Max grinned, looking at the exhausted form of Max, who was munching on a slice of his own.
"And have you been a good girl for Uncle Max?" he asked.
"Nope," the other man muttered, a final pant escaping his lips. Brock and Sarah laughed. "She's a little demon. Aren't ya Sarah?" She laughed, and nodded her head.
Brock, deciding the moment was too good to waste, deepened his voice, taking on the sterner, more adult accent he once used on his own brothers and sisters when they misbehaved. "Sarah," he lectured, wagging his finger at her as if he was displeased, "say sorry to Uncle Max."
The little girl giggled, and bobbed her head up and down. "Sowwy, Uncle Max," she chirped sweetly. "I'll be good from now on!" Brock thanked her, while Max decided they would have better luck figuring out a way to make 'from now on' last longer than the hour it usually did.
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The sounds, the chaos, the unending satisfaction of victory.
May Birch grinned in triumph, as her favorite Pokemon delivered the finishing blow on the small purple monkey in front of her, smashing its flaming arm in a fierce uppercut, sending the simian flying into the air, smashing its annoying, grinning face on the glass ceiling, with the crowd above cheering as they looked down into the match. Flashing a smile for the camera nearest to her, the young woman's pearly whites dazzled the audience, the shining azure eyes capable of stopping cars in the street smiling along with her mouth. She raised her hands high, as the judge roared her name.
"And the win goes to…May Birch!"
The crowd above them erupted into echoes of cheers and hoots, fan boys and girls alike chanted her name like crazy. Her opponent, a young prodigy about half her age, had already recalled his Aipom, and seemed to be fuming as he left, walking towards one of the elevators on his side of the arena to the above floor, where the press would be certain to annoy and harass him on his crushing defeat. She almost wished that she hadn't beat him. Almost, because she had wanted to win, and no amount of coordinators was going to stand in the way of that. Grinning, she recalled Blaziken, raising the Pokemon's red and white containment unit, its Pokeball, to shoulder height. She pressed down on the button in the center, and a streak of bright, crimson light erupted from the little orb. The light encompassed the large Pokemon, and reverted it into the same color, before the whole Pokemon vanished into the light, disappearing into the ball with an audible whoosh. Her match completed, May reattached the Pokeball to a small clip on her belt.
She chuckled to herself. Winning matches like this, completely and utterly dominating her opponents, was one of the few, simple pleasures that she had never denied herself. Brushing the long strands of brown hair from her face, she flashed another smile at the otaku standing above her battlefield, who all shouted in approval above her platform, her blue eyes twinkling at them. Dusting off her hands, May turned round, now that the match was over, and made for the elevators leading up to the upper floors. She passed through a small corridor, before reaching the glass lift. She pressed the button on the side, and the double doors whirled open in response. May stepped through the doors, and hit the button for the main deck, the floor above her.
The elevator whirled to life, and the doors closed slowly before her, and she felt the small jerk beneath her as she started to rise from the lower level, where the battles took place, and the upper deck, where most of the non-battling activity was going on. Through the glass, she could hear the venders selling their wavers, otaku running around in search of their favorite coordinators, and the various other goings-on common with an event such as this. The complex design of the center was made solely to accommodate multiple battles and a different form of spectator viewing. With the battles taking place below them, the viewers were given a different point of observation. Contests were growing in popular culture nowadays, almost on the same par as regular battles. As such, famous coordinators such as herself were normally swamped with incoming fan mail and attacked by paparazzi, not to mention swarmed by fans. May's fan mail alone could have more than capable of keeping an entire region happily supplied with paper for months. Sometimes this lifestyle gets on my nerves. She sighed, shaking her head, the machine slowing down as she approached her destination. She chuckled, hoping that her brother hadn't gotten overrun with guard duty, or else she might have trouble finding Max and his charge.
She was dressed plainly, she thought, looking over herself as she stepped out of the elevator. She didn't like to think she was beautiful, despite the fact that both Playboy and Penthouse had asked her to pose for their magazines on multiple occasions. She was about five foot seven, with a lithe build and complex that masked her surprising strength. She didn't exactly like drawing attention to herself, even though every person in the building knew who she was. So she dressed simply, wearing black leather pants, high heel shoes, and a red blouse. She didn't wear makeup, because she thought it made her look tacky, but her family agreed that she looked stunning with the stuff on. That was all, nothing more. Nothing that would draw attention, except from, of course, her fans…
She had just exited the elevator when the cry of the average central-Kanto fan boy rang out clear through the crowd. "Hello beautiful!" echoed a nasally voice from within the surging crowd, followed by a giant horde of intense whistling. May groaned inside, as the man who had issued the catcall, a stereotypical fan, emerged from the crowd. A large beefy man, with more chins that a phone book's pages, grinned at her with bucked teeth, pointing to the extremely tight shirt he happened to be wearing, which displayed a wider version of her own smiling face, stretched over his tubby pectorals. The man grinned a second time, rubbing a fat hand through his gleaming, greasy black hair. "How you doin'?" he asked, in a deeper, more annoying voice.
May rolled her eyes. "Here we go again," she murmured, rubbing the top of her head. "Okay, let's do this. Which one of you guys to I have to beat up for everyone to stop bothering me?" She turned to face the gathering of sweaty nerds, or, in particular, the sweaty nerd who had catcalled her, and cracked the knuckles on both her hands. She knew exactly how to deal with annoying fans: beat them up.
The otaku who had spoken to her, obviously the leader of the gaggle of nerds, stood tall in the face of her demand, walking boldly towards her, his massive hips swaying with his hands. His nostrils flared, and his cheeks turned a deep scarlet, his heart thudding in his chest so loud that everyone could hear, though that was mostly due to his clogged arteries. "Come on, baby, don't be like that," he swooned, grinning through his disfigured teeth. "I mean, I'm sure that a nice, lovely woman like yourself needs some…manly comforts now and then. And considering as you don't have a man no more, and you haven't for the past couple years, I decided it would be a good idea to extend to you an invite into my pants. You look like you need some loving anyway."
May's hand curled up into a fist. "You're just begging me to beat you down, aren't you?" she asked calmly, though her flushed face displayed that inside she was beginning to burn with rage.
The nerd raised his hands. "Hey, Miss, I was just saying that I'd be better than that chump of an ex-husband of yours. What was his name again?" He would later come to regret the decision to bring May's ex into the conversation.
May flashed white with rage. "I'll take that as a yes," she hissed through gritted teeth. "And I'm happy to oblige." She walked very, very calmly towards the otaku, with that special glint in her eyes usually reserved for those people who, soon after being seen, grab a shotgun and go searching for a bell tower. The instant she was within striking distance of the nerd, she obliged. Throwing out her foot, she struck the otaku hard against the face with a heeled foot. Time froze in between the kick, and the distance that the otaku traveled immediately after the backlash was administered. The nerd was lifted clear off his feet, and knocked into the metaphorical next week. In unanimous agreement, the crowd that had supported the large man parted, allowing the nerd to travel several feet before a massive thud was heard, his giant girth making friends with the solid ground.
The group parted even further away from May as she walked forward, hands on her hips, and bent over the nerd, who was wheezing from the impact. The otaku winced as she approached, and she smiled, like a hungry wolf preparing to feed on her prey. "If you, or anyone here, mention him to me again, and you will pay," she growled, her eyes taking on a predatory look, glaring at him. Fuming, she spun round on her heel and left the crowd speechless, looking around for the nearest drinking establishment, feeling a desperate need to blow off some steam. It took her only a moment, and a sign advertising an Orre-style cantina. One that the nerds, judging by the acne on their faces, could not follow her into. Perfect, she sighed, making a quick dash for the bar, dodging through the relatively light traffic on the walkways. She almost collided into someone, even, just to get there as fast as she could. A light drink, just to take her mind off things, was exactly what she needed to unwind.
Opening the revolving doors, she took a quick survey of the room. There were only a couple of people inside, the only one of them which appeared conscious was sitting at the counter, his shadowed face turned towards the TV in the corner, checking out the match that her rival, Drew, was fighting in, though he didn't appear all that interested in it. A half-full tankard sat in his gloved, strangely large hands, containing a beer color that bordered on black-amber. On the counter next to him, a small yellow rodent was curled up, snoozing peacefully, with a half-finished saucer of milk by it. A Pikachu, she thought, her heart briefly skipping a beat when she saw it. He had a Pikachu, she thought, though she hadn't seen him in years. The man before her looked nothing like him, with strong, powerful muscles, albeit compact and not body-builder-size, with long hair, the raven color was the only thing that she could say reminded her of him. The man wore a yellow shirt, which was almost golden-colored if seen in the light, and hung around the man baggily, like the rest of his clothes.
She walked towards him, deciding that sitting next to him wouldn't be the worst thing in the world. She looked at him as she sat on the stool, and offered a quick smile, which went unnoticed by the man himself, whose face was covered by heavy bangs, and who seemed engaged in the activities on the television. Holding up her hand, she signaled to the barkeep, who came over a moment later, obviously bored out of his mind. "Could I please get a Mai Tai?" she asked, resting her elbow against the counter. The bartender looked her over once, before his working eye widened when he figured out who she was, and nodded his head.
"Ten, please," he muttered, grabbing various rums and juices for the drink. May groaned, and pulled her wallet out of her pocket. She flicked it open, and rooted through its contents, coming up with only five in bills. She looked up, watching the barman work, and grinned sheepishly.
"Do you take credit cards, by any chance?" she asked, revealing her empty wallet. The barman looked at her, and shook his ruddy head. May sank her head, but lifted when the man next to her coughed, having apparently woken up from his thoughts. She watched as he put a hand into his pocket, and dug up a twenty bill, and threw it in the direction of the bartender.
"It's on me," the dark man muttered, scratching the ears of his Pikachu. His attention was still on the TV, watching as the Roselia delivered a very nice Body Slam to its opponent. "You look like you've had a rough time." He sighed, then raised the glass to his lips, draining the last half of his drink. "Another one, barkeep." The dark man tossed the mug at the barman, as the one-eyed drinks mixer handed the Mai Tai to May. The barman grunted, and poured out another cup for the trainer.
"Thanks," she murmured, raising the lithe glass to her lips and sipping, the light rum burning lightly in the back of her throat. She set the glass on the wood counter, and rubbed her head. "It's just that groupies make me sick sometimes. Paparazzi hasn't left me alone for years…"
The dark man beside her grunted, and shifted himself so he was facing away with her, and nodded his head. "Yeah, life sucks, doesn't it?" he asked, his voice a dull growl, as the bartender handed him his third beer for the afternoon. May nodded her agreement, chuckling lightly, before he spoke again. "What's your story, anyway? I thought people wanted to be famous." The dark man raised his glass, and took a small gulp out of the beer. May sighed, but shook her head.
"It's nothing really," she answered, taking a second sip from the small beverage. The bartender, sensing he was not needed from a hand motion from the dark man, decided to occupy himself with a dusty glass beneath the counter, keeping his one eye on the match on the TV. "Just the life of every celebrity you read about, you know? Marriage, divorce. That kind of stuff." The man nodded his head, scratching the head of his Pikachu, its happy face peaceful and content. It was actually pretty cute, she thought, almost like his Pikachu. "You ever get into things like that?" She waited for him to answer, taking another drink from her Mai Tai.
The dark man chuckled, nodding behind his back. "Yeah, I've been in stuff like that," he replied, taking another sip from his tankard. "The way families are like nowadays, it's tough to find the 'ideal' family. Yeah, I know what you're talking about." He coughed into his drink, then took another draught. "I used to have a wife, and a kid too. Didn't work out the way I had planned, so my wife made me leave." He paused, then offered a small chuckle. "I still pay alimony, I'm not a deadbeat like most, but the funny thing is that I can't even see my kid. When we split, she got a court order saying that I couldn't come near the kid. So, I don't exactly know my own kid."
"Oh…" May dropped her face, looking at the combat boots the man wore. "I sort of do the same thing to my ex-husband. He can't see my baby girl, because I got the same kind of order from the courts. I still get the checks like clockwork though…" She touched her chest, it hurt talking about her former husband. "But I think he deserves it, after what he did to me, and how much he hurt me."
The dark man grunted. "Don't you worry about how he feels? I mean, not being able to ever see his daughter must be horrible for him."
She snorted into her glass in response. "It doesn't matter," May retorted, sipping in her drink. "I don't want my daughter around that kind of people anyway. He's the one that did it me, and not the other way around. He destroyed me, so I really don't care about his feelings on the subject." She looked up at him, noticing a slight change in his voice. It seemed sadder. "Hey, are you in the Contest, big guy?"
The man nodded. "Yeah. I'm in the semi-finals tomorrow. I was transferred in as a wild card, so I haven't been in the earlier rounds. I hope I have some decent competition this time, I haven't lost a fight for a good long while…" He sighed, lifting his head to stare at the ceiling. "You are, I know that. I saw you on the tube. You weren't bad, but there's always room for improvement."
She grinned. "Well, I'm pretty stiff competition, you know. I'm a top coordinator from Hoenn, so it shouldn't be a cakewalk for even the best coordinators." She raised her eyes, sizing him up. "I'm May Birch," she said, finishing her drink, and settling in on the counter. "What's yours?"
The dark man sat up straighter, paying attention. "Does it really matter?" he asked, cocking his head up. "I don't use my real name in events like these. Got a chart on you for the next matches?" May shook her head but, as if on cue, the match ended on the TV, and displayed the next round. May smiled, looking at her own face displayed on the monitor. Drew's face was there, as well, along with Dawn's beaming gaze. And then…she looked at her own opponent, who bore a very strong resemblance to the man she had been talking to. The dark, raven bangs covered the eyes, but his face was set into a half-smile, as though he had tried to smile, but had somehow failed. They couldn't hear what the announcer was saying, but May could see the names underneath the faces. Hers, Drew's, and Dawn's she knew, but the mystery man she didn't.
May scratched her chin. "I've never heard of you, Mr. Toby," she said. "How have you avoided the paparazzi?" The dark man heard her, but didn't answer the question, so she changed the subject, looking towards the Pikachu waking on the table. It's eyes were fluttering open, and it yawned deeply. "How long have you been training that Pikachu?"
When the mouse was fully awake, it stared at May for a moment, as though having an experience of déjà vu. When it did, the man bent his head down to his Pokemon, and grunted. "Kachu," he muttered to the rodent, who nodded and kept quiet. "Pretty long," he answered, as the Pokemon climbed back onto his back, and settled on his left shoulder. It blinked, then began to whisper to its dark trainer rapidly. "We've got to get going." The man stiffened, then rose to his full height. Nodding to the barman, he turned to face the doorway out. "It's been nice talking with you, May Birch. I'll see you around." With that, he waved, and shoved his hands into his pockets.
She raised her hand. "See you later, then," she answered, as he left the bar, to stew in her own thoughts and guilt.
The man who called himself Keean Toby exited the bar, and started to the left, taking in the surroundings again. He ignored the calls from the vendors, the faces in the crowd, and blended into the environment. He didn't speak, but began to take note of all of the surroundings, checking the entrances and exits, the emergency evacuation areas, and areas that small objects could be concealed. Things that most normal people wouldn't look for, but things he needed to look for nonetheless. Ten minutes into his investigation, his pants began to vibrate, stunning him momentarily, but he adjusted. "It's for me," he muttered to the Pikachu, reaching into his pocket. He retrieved the small, cell-phone device and flipped it open. The blank screen glowed to life, and the man ducked into a corner, head swerving round as he checked to make sure no one had noticed him.
He sighed. He hated when he boss called. The dark man pressed a button on the silver phone, and pressed it against his ear. "This is Agent 1076," he muttered. The man turned to Pikachu, and nodded his head. Without a word, the yellow rodent hopped off his shoulder, and scurried away in the direction of the crowds. "My Pikachu is covering the target for me as we speak."
"Agent 1076," said a voice from the receiver, a dark growl that almost made the man flinch. Almost. "Status report. Has the target been identified?"
"Target has been identified. The target is presently in an Orre-style cantina, and is preparing to meet up with the rest of her party. Assumptions that she won have been confirmed, meaning she will be attending the dinner later tonight. I shall be attending as well, under alias." The man took a deep breath, then continued. "Now, cut the crap, and tell me what is wrong. You know I can handle something this easy without a checkup."
The person on the other side grunted, and the man could hear the faint scratching of a pen as his report was taken down. "We have received confirmation that a terrorist organization unknown to us is planning to attack the event. Their purpose is unknown, but the conditions of protecting your target have changed. To that end, a second, superior agent is being dispatched, and is on route to Saffron. A specialist agent with the kind of firepower to combat a terrorist threat of this nature."
Inside, the dark man groaned, his face sagging into an angered frown. "You're sending me one of the spandexes?" he demanded, a feeling of deep annoyance welling up within him. "Listen, 003, I can handle a terrorist. I don't need someone in flashy tights showing up to steal my thunder." He growled, striking the wall behind him with his free arm. "I can handle this on my own and you know it."
Agent 003, if he cared, ignored the comment. "Your orders have changed to correspond with this. Orders to protect solely the target have been terminated. Orders to continue incognito within the Contest have remained, with the added measure that you will forfeit if you may win. New orders are to receive Agent 0, Gold, and secure a safe passage for his operations. You will subordinate directly to him, obeying all commands given, without question." The voice paused, and a small sigh transferred over the phone. "You are otherwise allowed free reign of your assignment. Try and have some fun, 1076. I've read your files, you had to give up a lot for us. Do something for yourself for a change."
The dark man rolled his eyes. "How nice of you to care, 003. Blow it out your ***," he finished, pressing down hard on the red button, cutting the line dead. Sighing, he flipped the phone shut and stuck it back into his pocket. His jaw set, the man slammed his fists against the wall, grunting in irritation, as a wave of depression and frustration rooted itself firmly in his stomach. "Just what I need," he grumbled, looking out into the crowd. "Another idiotic, annoying encounter with my favorite spandex." As he stewed his feelings within himself, a flash of yellow prompted his attention, and within moments, the little mouse Pikachu was sitting on his shoulder, looking at him quizzically. "You ever think I made the wrong choice, Pikachu?"
The mouse shook its head, and shrugged its shoulders. "Kachu, pi," it replied. The man sighed, of course the mouse wouldn't know. Only he did, and he couldn't figure it out. The dark man removed himself from the wall he was leaning on, and started to shuffle through the crowd, soon losing himself in the wanderings of the other people, trapped amid his own thoughts.
He sighed, feeling the pain of the golden ring hitting softly against his chest. "I gave her up. I gave both of them up, and this is the result," he murmured, glancing through the crowd. He could see the couples, walking arm and arm together, laughing away their time. He saw families, children holding onto their mothers and fathers, wandering around. His face broke into a soft smile, as he remembered how he used to do that, with her, and with their child. Walking in the street, as if they had all the time in the world, his little girl taking her little baby steps in between them. "It's nothing but a memory now," he whispered to himself and Pikachu, vanishing into the couples and families, nothing more than a passing shadow. A darkened stranger in a cascade of light.
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Max passed the time waiting for May by recounting a story from his own years of traveling for Brock's own amusement. He lowered his voice, while Sarah assaulted the pizza in front of her in a manner that classified as third-degree manslaughter, as some of the stories were never suitable for small children. Brock's mouth widened, and he gasped as Max finished. "So, let me see if I have this straight," he murmured, as Max took a sip from the soft drink he had purchased. "You mean to say that you and she were—" He paused, making sure Sarah was preoccupied, "alone of various periods of time?"
Max, who was undisturbed by the question, continued drinking, but inclined his head, confirming the secret message in Brock's question. "That, my friend, would be correct," he answered, setting his drink down onto the table. "But I'll fill you in on the…other information later though."
"Max, are you boasting about stuff you can't back up?" The voice jolted Max out of his normal, relaxed state, and he turned to see his sister standing behind him, a sharp glare on him. Max grinned, and feigned ignorance to what she was inferring to. Hey, Brock," she said, smiling at the big man. Brock concurred, and wrapped her in a powerful hug. "Great to see you, buddy."
Brock grinned. "Great to catch up again, May. Sorry I was late, a few cases back in Pewter kept delaying me. I caught a train here a few hours ago…" He then noticed that May was having trouble breathing, and released her from his grasp, chuckling to himself. "Sarah, climb!" he ordered. The little girl, now finished with her meal, jumped on the table and tackled Brock's back, assuming the piggyback position with expert timing.
Sarah laughed, then jumped off Brock to land on May, who hugged her daughter tight. "Hi, baby girl," she said to Sarah, tickling her belly. "Were you good to your babysitters?" Max, upon hearing the question, immediately began shaking his head from side to side, and Brock slapped his back to stop him.
"Mommy!" Sarah cried out happily, holding tightly onto her mother. "Win, Mommy?" she asked.
She grinned, raising her thumb. "Yep," she answered. "Win, baby." Sarah shouted for joy, grabbing her mom hard. Brock and Max high-fived.
"That means we get to go to that dinner tonight, right?" Max asked, hoping for high-class, free food.
May nodded, and Brock said, "How about we carry this celebration somewhere else, huh? If we have a dinner to go to, we'd better go get ready! I need to rent a tux…"
"Okay," May replied, setting Sarah gently down on the floor, keeping the little girl's right arm in between her grasp. "Then let's get going, gang." Max took the lead, and led his sister and niece in the direction of the nearest atrium exit, Brock following behind the three, checking out the women as he went. Fortunately, he restrained himself, wanting to set a good example for Sarah.
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The dark man watched as they left for the dinner, surrounded by the massive ocean of people still traveling through the center, shrouding him from their live eyes. He forced himself to watch, like he always did, as the little girl laughed in happiness, the joyful face that the girl made when she saw the woman. The pained feeling within him throbbed every single time his heart beat, growing every time in intensity. "She'll never look at me like that," he muttered, his head falling to watch her go. He took a step forward, walking into the food court just behind them, but far enough away so that they didn't see him. He wanted away from the groups around him, the couples and the families, feeling the urge to be alone again. "I wish she knew me, Pi."
"Pi, Pikachu," the rodent answered sympathetically, patting the dark man's head with its small paw. "Kachu." The dark man nodded, and lifted his head slowly, wanting to catch a final glimpse of the girl before he left.
Just as May headed down the atrium, leading Brock and Max behind herself and her daughter, Sarah turned around, taking one last look at the center before she left for the day. Her dark, raven eyes flew round, checking everything they could see, before they stopped, for just a split second, resting on the dark man standing alone, apart from any crowd, the Pikachu sitting quietly on his shoulder. He looked to her, and his heart fluttered, beating wildly, though the pain had lessened in that moment. In that moment, she had seen him, even though she didn't know who he was, or what she meant to him. But, in the next moment, the girl vanished, lost in the void of the crowd surrounding the atrium, heading for the world beyond, Saffron City, leaving the dark man standing where he was, hands in his pockets, with his mouth slightly opened.
He sighed, his head falling back to stare at the polished ground beneath his feet. "I love you, Sarah," he whispered sadly, his tone full of loss. "And I love you too, May." Those were absolutes, the things that would never change about the dark man, no matter where he went or what he did.
Pikachu felt the pain coursing through its trainer, and nodded. "Pi," it squeaked, before pointing to where they had come from, the main atrium that led out of the center into Saffron.
The man shrugged his shoulders, turning away from the exit. "Yeah, I know," he replied, turning away from the door. He couldn't push May and Sarah, his lost love and daughter, from his mind forever, but he could put away the feelings until he had time for them. "It's time to go to work, isn't it?" The mouse squeaked its reply, and the dark trainer walked forward, his combat boots clunking on the floor. A second later, he was gone, vanished in the sea of people, non-existent to anyone who saw him. As he said it, he was nothing more than a passing shadow, a lurking memory that was never forgotten, but never fully remembered. Déjà vu, as his colleagues put it, to be seen by the public then dismissed just as quickly.
The people in attendance continued with their lives, shopping, battling, and messing around to their hearts content. And only one person in the crowd, Keean Toby, knew the fate that could befall them if he failed. Nothing changed for them, the public was perfectly happy, ignorant of what was coming, concerned solely with enjoying themselves, and having a good time. The terror threat wasn't known to them, or the responsibility shouldered upon the dark man, now that he was burdened with their lives. It was the furthest thing from their vacant minds. Only he knew, and he wasn't even allowed to do anything to stop it without spandex approval. It made him sick.
The only light left in the dark man wondered about his daughter. He wondered who she was as he wandered in the direction of the exit. He wondered how she was, whether she missed not having a father, or even if she knew she had one. It was one thing to see his daughter, to just look at the little girl. It was another to know her. He was a stranger to her, even though he knew her better than anyone outside her mother. If he could just talk to her, hold her within his arms like other fathers could. He wanted to tell her who he was, and how much she and her mother meant to him. Is that so much to ask?
Even though it was one of the most rewarding jobs in the world, and one of the most secret, the dark man hated his life as a PKM Agent. He hated what it had done to him, and what it had, in the end, cost him forever.
Author's Note: This thread will be updated a minimum of once a week, depending on my schedule. The life of an adjunct instructor and a PhD student is not an easy one.