RoseIII—Right Hand of the Dragon—The Antics of the Roses [Book Two] (PG-13)

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    Default RoseIII—Right Hand of the Dragon—The Antics of the Roses [Book Two] (PG-13)

    This book's a bit spicier, but still lacking in mental development. n33. :B~ Crucifixion o ai shiteiru....

    The book order goes like so (this will be posted in all the books' threads):
    The Right Hand of the Dragon:
    I: The Story of the Roses (1-17)
    II: The Antics of the Roses (18-34)
    III: Tokyo (35-48)
    IV: Ecruteak (49-80)

    Changing Hands:
    V: A Little Game of Life (1)

    The Left Hand of the Dragon:
    VI: 2436
    VII: The Cimmerian
    VIII: The Bamboo Dragon
    IX: Fade to Black
    X: Epilogue (Rose-X)


    Chapter Eighteen

    ::Kit::

    We all settled into Sunnytown over the next week. Max had agreed to let us stay upstairs at his place, but we had to keep quiet.

    The twelve of us passed the time by playing games, watching TV, and the like.

    All Sesh would do was scribble endlessly in his sketchbooks, tinker with his Pokédex, and various other things of the like. He didn't pay attention to much else that went on, kept to himself. If anyone asked what he was doing, he'd mumble something and go back to what he was doing.

    Mattie and Trey would sit there and doodle, though it seemed that they got bored with this after a while, and like Seshi, fiddled with their gadgets.

    'Ditz' just annoyed us over that period of time, playing Ditto and doing impressions of ourselves.... He scared the hell out of Max one time.

    I... mostly sat and thought, contemplated what was going to happen next.

    I sat there on the couch one day, an email open on my laptop—to my mother; spent about an hour worrying over whether or not to send it. The thing ended up receiving the fate of the escape key.

    "Leo," I mumbled, remembering about last week. When he looked to me I asked him, "You didn't ever tell us what that guy did that let you become human." At this the others stopped what they were doing and turned to watch.

    He choked. "I—it's like the necklaces," he replied, trying to make it sound so simple. "You concentrate on your humanity."

    "You've got to be kidding me," I grumbled. "How could it be that easy?"

    Leo shrugged. "It just is." He ostentated this and smiled a little once he'd become human again. "See?"

    "Whatever you say," Sesh muttered aside, not averting his gaze from what he was doing. Everyone got the look of shock on their faces that he wasn't completely lost in whatever it was he was doing.

    "It's enough for me," Philo remarked, breaking the silence. He sighed in thought, and, after a minute, closed his eyes. His ears at once began to shrink smaller, his tail shrivelling up to the point of vanishing; his fur receded completely, leaving rather tanned skin, his fingers no longer tipped with claws, his face losing the vulpine shaping to become human. When he looked up again, his eyes again were that dark brown we'd once known him to have, and he wore a grin upon his face.

    "For once, Rei speaks intelligence," I uttered in awe, staring at Philo in disbelief.

    ~*~*~

    We'd all played around with the new toy for a while, at least the seven of us who had the toy to play with, and it wasn't really anything big for us at that point in time. It did mean, however, that we could be human, and it brought a bit of mental stress as to being allowed to show our faces in public without people staring. Well, at least not because we looked like freaks or something. ^_^;;;

    We'd settled down by dinnertime, back into our usual bored rut, the whine of a muted television louder than any conversation any of us was having.

    My necklace brushed up against my skin and I shivered a little, digging it out from underneath my shirt and looking at it curiously. Then it hit me.

    "Guys? I just thought of something." I'd gotten their attentions, and I continued. "You know Sarina said that the necklaces spliced, right? I think they're reusable."

    "You've got to be kidding me," Sesh grumbled. "The things open once they've been unlocked; they transplant their genes into the genome."

    "In that light, why dontcha give me yours for a second."

    "What good'll that do?"

    "I wanna see something."

    He shrugged and slipped the chain from around his neck, then tossed it to me. When I caught it, I held it in my hands for a moment before the petals closed back on themselves. I held it up, smirking, and he stared at it.

    "Soooo, who wants to do some trading?"

    ~*~*~

    The commotion brought Asuka to watch through the cracked door. I caught sight of him spectating our activities and he choked when saw me looking at him.

    "Asuka... c'mere. You're a part of the group, too." He nervously came to sit in the window, happier that he could watch better from his new seat. "Who's gonna go first?"

    "I will if you want me to," Sean volunteered, excitedly eyeing Ditz's golden rose on the coffee table in the middle of us all, while Ditz seemed kind of removed from everything, almost indifferent as to getting his share.

    "Go right ahead, Kaimen," I led, eager to see the guinea pig test my theory.

    Sean sighed, plopping back on the carpet as he prepared himself mentally for what he was about to do, resting his chin upon his hands clasped around the aureate trinket. He closed his eyes and fell into what would otherwise seem to be a trance. His ears grew to be long and tapered and his skin began to roughen with brown fur as his hair washed blonde, his height diminishing overall about a foot as the other changes occurred; he jerked after a minute and exclaimed, his face narrowing outwards in the direction he'd jerked, becoming a muzzle, while in the other direction, his pants ripped, a tail snaking its way out behind him, fluffing out almost in an instant. Once he'd heard the rip of fabric, his eyes had shot wide open in surprise, revealing that they now were a catlike, glittering green.

    He looked to his now childlike hands, worry and confusion washing over his face as he felt his face, finding a wet nose, his ears flat against his head and his tail swishing violently; it was then that he looked at his tail in surprise. "Okay, this is some kind of joke, right?" He even SOUNDED like Ditz. We all looked to Ditz, then back to Sean and sweatdropped, the poor Eevee freaking out completely.

    "Okay, maybe I should've thought this out a little more before we went about doing this..." I uttered, laughing nervously.

    "Sean, could you, um, turn back please?" Ditz asked, smiling a little in worry. He sighed and again fell into concentration, becoming himself once more. "Thank you." Sean shrugged. "Is anyone else going to do that?" the Eevee began, brow furrowed, a little upset. Everyone was enthusiastic and he groaned, walking downstairs with Asuka, who was now thoroughly freaked as well.

    We all got to trading around necklaces, all of us getting which strands we wanted, though no one could unlock mine. Compatibility, I suppose.

    Sesh got this impish urge to scare the heck out of his little brother, and we all sat in wait of him coming back upstairs. We figured that he'd be coming back with something for us to eat, and we were right. Ditz poked his head in the door cautiously, and freaked completely at the sight of eleven Ditzes sitting there in the living room. All of us grinned and his face began twitching. Asuka didn't know what was going on and opened the door all the way, dropping the bag of hamburgers at the spectacle.

    From behind the two we heard Max exclaim in surprise and fear, and we all defended at once, "I didn't do it." After a minute, the poor guy began laughing, then slowly whimpering, turning back downstairs.

    "I—whose idea was it to do this?" Ditz began, upset. Everyone pointed at Seshi and he laughed nervously, cowering back from his brother.

    "Tacky, I thought it'd be funny..." he uttered, becoming himself again.

    "You're just evil," the Eevee sighed, looking at him with a look of, 'ah, geez...' on his face. Then he snickered and pulled the same thing on him. 'Seshi' chuckled at the horrified look upon his brother's face and we all cracked up, returning to our true forms.

    Hanging his head as if he were going to cry, the Raichu whimpered, "I... brought this upon myself...."

    ~*~*~

    "What say we go out today?" I offered as the dozen of us ate breakfast the next morning.

    "I'm all for it," Ditz seconded, snickering a little as he stuffed a donut in his mouth.

    "Ditz, that's sick," I groaned, seeing him just swallow it whole.

    "What?" He smiled. "They taste better that way."

    ~*~*~

    We decided to go out on one of our usual trips, where we split up for the day and then get back together a few hours later. Tane teleported the dozen of us to Cerulean and we broke up in different directions, Ditz following Sesh and me.

    ~*~*~*~*~*~

    "Sir? Seven of them have been sighted in Cerulean," one of my Rockets informed me as I sat at my desk, almost asleep until the fool had come in. Then I realised what he'd said and at once got a grin upon my face, lighting a fresh cigar as I leaned back in my armchair.

    "That's wonderful," I plauded. "Send two teams down there with the special team and capture the lot of them."

    "The special team, sir? But they're just kids!"

    "You're doubting me?" I snapped, my annoyed gaze set upon him in the darkness of my room.

    "N—no Sir, I just—"

    "You were just what?"

    "I—I'm sorry, sir," he flustered, afraid.

    I snorted, amused by his spinelessness. "Just do as I said and get out of my sight."

    "Yes sir!" The idiot immediately scrambled out the door, again leaving me in silence.

    "You won't hurt them, will you? Please tell me you won't hurt them...."

    "I'm doing what I must, Sarina," I replied, turning to the woman who stood behind me.

    ~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~



    Chapter Nineteen

    ::Kit::

    The three of us were perusing the marketplace, Ditz and I spectating Sesh looking for something in particular. He moved on from one stall that had not a moment ago intrigued him, walking onto the next block. Just as we turned the corner, a guy in black tackled him.

    Sesh exclaimed in surprise, crashing to the cement hard as the weirdo pinned him to the cement. It was no surprise when he couldn't fight back; the guy was in his twenties, well-built and at least a half-foot taller than Seshi. It made me worry that there were more in wait for Ditz and me.

    "G-get offa me, you moron!" Sesh growled, struggling to get out from under the guy.

    "I have orders to bring the three of you into custody, God only knows why," he grumbled in response, arching an eyebrow curiously, yet expression remaining indifferent and unamused.

    Suddenly someone ran up from behind me to tackle me to the street as well, and I freaked, melting immediately; my assailant ran straight through me and fell to the street. Most of me splattered to the sidewalk and I climbed the lightpole as I reformed, out of breath. The second guy stared at me in utter disbelief, the first looking up from Seshi to see what in the world had just happened.

    The entire incident had created a huge scene, not something I think the two of them had originally wanted.

    "H—how'd you do that?!" the second yelped, staring at the girl whom now sat atop the lightpole. I smirked a little, 'shifting' as Leo had called it back to my true self and he freaked when I grinned at him.

    "You see," I began as I jumped down, throwing the guy off Seshi with my Kinesis once I landed, "we're the Roses."

    "You couldn't have helped me out any sooner, could you have?" Sesh griped, sitting up and dusting himself off.

    "I wasn't thinking, okay?" I muttered, then turned back to the two idiots who'd chosen to attack us. "Who told you to take us into custody?"

    "B—Boss," the first uttered, scared out of his wits as he wiped the blood from his nose.

    "And who might 'Boss' be?" I continued, grinning in his face as I knelt down to stare him in the eye.

    "Kit, they're Rockets—who else?" Sesh walked over to stand beside me. "I think we should just let 'em run along. They aren't the ones to worry about."

    With this remark the two scrambled away, leaving the crowd watching us.

    "You want something to stare at, do you?" He, too, shifted type, adding electrical static as a dramatic effect, and they all moved back a step, fearful of the three of us.

    "Um, where'd Ditz go?" I inquired, looking around. I found a grinning blond, about fourteen or fifteen, leaning against the brick building behind us, his emerald eyes narrowed in amusement, his arms crossed lazily across his chest.

    "What?" the guy muttered, seeing my gaze upon him.

    "You are such a moron," I muttered under my breath at the Ditto, motioning for Sesh to freeze the crowd, and we walked through the sea of mannikins untouched, turning the block as Sesh let the flow of time resume.

    "Why am *I* a moron?" he defended, walking beside me. "I mean, you use your abilities; why can' I?"

    "It's different, Ditto idiot," I replied, smiling a little. "You confused me."

    "How'd you think I felt when Toshi was playing freeze-tag with me when I first got back with you guys?"

    At this I was silent.

    "Besides, it's fun."

    I shuddered after a minute, stopping in my tracks in annoyance. "Please, just... at least don't do that voice when you don't have to," I complained.

    He laughed a minute, then smiled. "All right then," he agreed, reverting to using his regular voice, but retaining the teenaged façade. Both Sesh and I choked, staring at him, incredulous at his audacity.

    "I—I take it back, Ditz!" I began, Sesh and I trailing behind the chuckling kid, frustrated and disgusted at the same time.

    "Make your mind up," he grinned, using his older voice, turning to us.

    "You really are a Ditz," Sesh uttered, staring at what used to be his younger brother.

    "Why thank you," he bowed. "I try to put on a good show."

    ~*~*~

    We looked around town for everyone else and couldn't find any of them. It was unbelievable that not one of them had gotten away.

    First thing the three of us decided to do was to find the two jerks who'd attacked us earlier and get some answers.

    The two of them were sitting on a bench, waiting for the next bus to arrive. Sesh and I fell back, turning invisible, watching as Ditz walked on to sit beside the pair.

    "Hi," he greeted quietly, giving them a quick glance. They mumbled something in response, eyeing the Pokéball at his waist.

    "You a trainer?" the first began, eyes glittering greedily.

    "Nah. My pet Eevee." He looked to them again. "You two wouldun happen to know where your friends took mine, would ya?" When they choked, he grinned.

    "Y—you're one of those kids!" the second uttered, scrambling to get up off the bench. He shed the alias and the two jumped back, staring at him in fear.

    "Boy you Rockets sure are smart!" he exclaimed sarcastically. "But really. I can be nice, or I can be mean. Would you tell me where your friends took mine?"

    "Th—they—Boss wanted the twelve of ya," he stammered, backing slowly away from the kid on the bench.

    "We know that; where's 'Boss?'"

    "H—he'd kill us if we told someone where the base was!" the first uttered, scared out of his mind.

    "Are you more afraid of him," I began, shedding the invisibility right in his face, "or us?" They jumped back in fright, stumbling and falling to the sidewalk on each other, staring up at me. I snorted. "Spineless gofers," I muttered. "Tell us or else."

    The two whimpered. "V—Viridian," he quivered.

    "Gee, Viridian *is* a pretty big city, dontcha think, Kit?" Sesh interjected, sitting on the bench beside Ditz. "I say we take our little friends with us and they can show us the way."

    At this they were almost to the point of tears. He gave the two a dirty look, staticking in annoyance. They shut up. The Raichu stopped and smirked at his 'work.' "Now then. Kit, would you do the honours?"

    I chuckled and snapped, the three of us and our toys in Viridian City.

    ~*~*~

    "Ahh, I remember this city," I reminisced as we walked down the streets, our pets leading us onward. "First city I came to from Heritage." I smiled. "Got my first badge here, too. Michelle's a great Wartortle."

    "Wartortle?" Sesh echoed, arching an eyebrow at this.

    "She actually evolved in the battle I had with Sarina, but she *is* a Wartortle now, and I hate to speak of past ways of people or Pokémon."

    "You've got to be a pretty good trainer to have a Wartortle," he muttered, a little amused. "Squirtle are usually rather temperamental about evolution, prefer to prove themselves as their Tiny Turtle selves. 'Swhy Blastoise are so rare."

    "You think that these Growlithe are leading us in circles, or is it just me?" Ditz grumbled, having retaken his older form. "I would've sworn we passed this street before."

    The two Rockets froze in their tracks, whimpering at our displeasure of their trick.

    "Now you two are naughty boys," I chided, freezing them permanently in their place with my Kinesis. "Ditz, give them one of your Sunnytown makeovers." The pair yelped, trying to break free of capture when he grinned as he walked to stand before them, cracking his knuckles.

    He chuckled, grinning ear to ear at his handiwork; the pair now donned the faces of Ditto. A few lookers-on snickered at them, thinking that we were putting on a street act or something.

    "Now then. Are you going to cooperate?" They shook their heads rapidly in agreement, afraid of further torture.

    "Sh—shortcut," the first remarked, taking us down an alleyway. We got to walking a few more minutes before they took us down into the subway. It stank of mildew and paint.

    After a few more minutes, we went into a tunnel that stemmed up from the subways but not at one of the underground trains' tracks. Stairs soon ensued in the path upward, and the five of us were then in a dim, grey hall.

    "This is more like it," I smiled.

    "D—down this hall, a—at the end and down the hall to the right. Th—the room with two guards outside is Boss's."

    "Now you're acting like you're not coming WITH us," Sesh pushed, grinning as he dragged the whimpering dolts long behind us by his tail.

    We came up to the room the two had told us of; the two guards, one male, the other female, saw us and stood to attention for us, handguns cocked.

    The three of us freaked at the sight of guns, holding our hands up defencively, and Sesh let go of the the captives, the pair skidding to the linoleum floor on their butts.

    The guards were obviously scared out of their wits by their quaivering hands. Sesh's tail twitched nervously; it was enough for the girl to pull the trigger. The shot resounded through the sterile, cold halls, everything seeming to be in slow-motion as Sesh reeled back, having taken a bullet right in the stomach. Ditz and I rushed to kneel beside him; by the time we looked up again, the guards and the other two had scattered.

    The Raichu lay there, staring wide-eyed down the hall in anguish, taking in pained breaths as he held tight to his stomach.

    "Sesh, let me see how bad it is," I whispered, peeling his hand slowly away, then his green shirt, which was now stained with blood. I gasped when I found no wound, as if it had just magically healed itself in an instant.

    "Kit, what's the matter? How bad is it?" Ditz demanded, staring at me with a fire in his eyes.

    "Th—there's no wound," I uttered. This brought even Sesh to inspect it himself, all three of us in utter disbelief.

    He clutched his stomach in throes again, shooting up in agony. A metallic clatter rang through the halls and the bullet rolled across the floor from behind him. All three of us soon stared at the shell ambling along the linoleum.

    "R-remind me not to get shot again, okay?" Sesh uttered weakly.

    ~*~*~

    After sitting there for a minute, Sesh stuck the bullet in his pocket as a momento, and we made our way onward.

    The three of us came to burst into the head of Team Rocket's room. The room was quite dark, and it stank of cigars. A ribbon of smoke trailed upwards from the leather chair which sat turned from us at the desk. A Persian lay curled up on the floor beside the desk, content with its spot on the rug.

    "I heard gunfire," a man remarked, a hint of bemusement in his voice. "Who got shot?"

    "You dirty bastard, what do you want with us?!!" Sesh roared angrily, arcing with electricity that quickly lit the room up rather well.

    "Now, now, no need for angry words," the man chided as he swivelled around in his chair to sit at his desk, a grin upon his face. His dusty red-brown hair was thinning a bit, his face showing clear signs of his age of around forty-five, his orange eyes glimmering with a sort of evil that I could only remember I'd seen once. This memory made my hair stand on end.

    I, too, growled, baring my fangs at him. At this, the man known as Giovanni laughed.

    "Meilin, why so angry? I never did anything to you."

    "You're a liar," I hissed, teleporting right up in his face. I grabbed him by the tie, bringing our noses to touch. "Why the hell did you kidnap us? For money?! For the pleasure of seeing the fifteen of us writhe in agony, both mental and physical?!! You are so evil."

    "Ah, would you watch the tie? It's—silk," he choked out, not so much as faltered by our being there. I threw him back in the chair and he slicked the black thing back down, tucking the tail back in his jacket. "Thank you." He looked back to me. "No, no I didn't kidnap you for pleasure OR money. I was forced to."

    "Liar," I hissed again, absolute hatred in my glare. He melted under my gaze and slunk down in his chair.

    "Wh—what good would it do you to torment me? I wasn't the one that did this to you!"

    "You handed us over, didn't you?"

    "I was dragged along," he growled back, holding his right hand up to where I could see. His little finger, ring finger, and all the bones leading to them within the hand were disfigured; he was unable to move those two fingers when he flexed his hand.

    I cringed at the sight.

    "What I thought, you little beast," he spat, a look of hatred in his eyes like I had had before.

    "Meilin... you bit him?" Sesh uttered in disbelief. I hung my head.

    "Didn't you fight back?" I snapped.

    "I woke up at Heritage," he grumbled.

    "You do have quite a history of being awake for the occasion," Giovanni remarked, that grin upon his face like it had been before.

    I growled again. "Just tell us what you want."

    "Your true tormentours... put you through the Enhancement for a reason." He sat there in silence for several minutes before I went for the tie again. He stopped me. "They just want to talk to you."

    Don't do it! a voice exclaimed in my head. You'll all get killed!

    It took a moment to register that the voice had been that of Sarina—she was watching out for us.

    I shot a glance to Ditz and Sesh and they saw the glint in my eye; they'd heard her too by the looks they returned.

    "Bring us our friends and we'll go," I led.

    Giovanni grinned, happily pushing the intercom button on his desk, a short beep coming from it. He apparently didn't see any harm in the twelve of us being all together.

    The door soon opened, the nine others coming in, bound by what seemed to be electromagnetic cuffs. Sean tried to break free of them, his hands crackling with electricity, but to no avail, the cuffs shocking him back.

    The group saw that we'd gotten free and smiled. Sesh froze Giovanni and the guard that had come in with the others and demagnetised each of them with his own electricity, the bars clattering to the floor as time resumed, the dozen Roses now standing around Giovanni. He wore a crooked smile upon his face, laughing nervously.

    "You really did think that we aren't strong enough to break free of your imprisonment. That's amusing. Ditz, you have honours," I grinned evilly. The Ditto smirked, chuckling as I pinned the man down for him to give him a new face. About a minute later the twelve of us were laughing at the Ditto-faced man, and we soon dashed down the halls, tormenting Rockets upon whim.

    I felt a little badly for the ones that Sesh got a hold of, from the screams of anguish they cried out when he electrocuted them. The dementia I saw on Sesh's face when he did this frightened me, the sheer joy he got out of burning them from the inside out; he was utterly scarred from the experience he'd had that day.

    ~*~*~

    "And now to conclude this little visit," Ditz remarked, his true self, grinning from ear to ear as we stood outside the base. He began to grow in size, towering over us by at least fifteen feet when he stopped. Just staring up at him made us ill in fright. He giggled and the ground shook.

    The Ditto boy tromped back over to the vicinity in which Giovanni was most likely to be and peeled back the roof as if the building were a dollhouse. We could hear the poor man scream in sheer terror. Ditz grinned at this in delight that he'd made the old man faint, and put the roof back down as best he could, returning to his usual size as quickly as he'd become the giant.

    "D-Ditz..." Sesh uttered, "d—d—don't do that again with...out warning us first...." It had been too much for him and he fainted.

    "Good mental note," the Eevee laughed half-heartedly.

    ~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~



    Chapter Twenty

    "Oh dear God.... Seshi!" Nat exclaimed in horror, seeing his bloodstained shirt. "What happened?!"

    "He got in a fight with a handgun and a Rocket," I replied, grimacing. "The weirdest thing, though, is that not a minute after he got shot, the wound had healed itself! Either that, or I don't want to know what kind of bullets those people have...."

    "We should be getting back to Sunny," Ditz rationalised. "One—those Rockets may come after us again. Two—Sesh got hurt pretty bad, and we're all tired, aren't we?" Everyone agreed, Tane teleporting us back to the place we called home.

    We laid Sesh down on the couch, leaving him to rest, then followed Sarah, whom immediately ran downstairs and hugged Max, much to his confusion and dismay.

    "W—why the sudden show of emotion, Sarah?" he began.

    "I—we... we just—"

    "Uh, you guys are on TV," Asuka began, poking his head around the corner from upstairs, a little worried. We all rushed upstairs to see, and wished that we hadn't.

    "In Cerulean today there were many strange sights to see. Twelve teenagers, calling themselves the Roses, made their presences known to the world today. Some believe that these teens are mutants of some sort; others think that they're of an alien race. What do I think? I don't have a clue.

    "The most prominent of the dozen is a girl that goes by the name 'Kit.' She at first seemed to be human, but then was run into and splattered to the cement, having turned to water. She reformed atop a lightpole, and those who saw her today believe her to be a mermaidlike creature, if not a beast.

    "Seven of the dozen 'Roses' showed themselves to not be human; the other five's identities unknown as to their humanity.
    "

    Some footage of Sarah flying away from the Rocket that had chased her soon ensued this short report, and Leo trying to sneak away invisible, then a short clip of me sitting on the lightpole. In the background I could see Ditz working on his face. Dork, I thought to myself.

    "The Roses were brought out into the open because members of Team Rocket attacked them, and soon brought nine of them into their own custody. It raises difficult questions as to whether or not the Roses are creations of this malicious gang.

    The theories of the Roses being Team Rocket's is intensified by what was seen in Viridian a few hours later. A photograph of one of them was sent in just a few minutes ago.
    " A shot of Ditz ripping off the Rocket Headquarters' roof flashed up on the screen and Asuka and Max yelped aloud, staring at the Ditto boy on the screen in incredulity and fear, the ten of us shuddering at the thought of him doing it again.

    "As we gain more infomation on these... 'Roses,' as they call themselves, we'll keep you updated." With that, Asuka turned the TV off, dropping the remote to the floor in a terrified daze. Max had already snuck back downstairs.

    "Wh—what the hell was that?" the Jolteon uttered, still staring at the TV screen.

    Ditz laughed half-heartedly. "Hehe... Giovanni made me mad...."

    "The jerk... he... was the one that handed us over to whoever did this to us," I remarked, merely saying it bringing my blood to boil. "The Enhancement was Giovanni's fault."

    "WHAT?!" Asuka was suddenly shaken from his gaze and glared at me, upset. "You're telling me that some GUY kidnapped us?!!"

    "He told us that he was dragged along, but I don't believe him."

    "Kit, calm down," Sesh uttered weakly from behind me. "Getting mad won't do any good."

    "Why won't it? I need to vent all of this somewhere. I mean," I laughed a moment—"I just found out who tore me away from my mother, my father, my little sister Jackie. They destroyed not only me, but them as well. And you... just don't mess with them without getting me in the tangle." I laughed a little dementedly, thinking again about how worried sick my family had to be about me by now.

    "Feel better?"

    I hung my head. "Thank you."

    He smiled. "Any time."

    "Do I feel a warm moment here?" Nat interjected quietly, bemused.

    Sesh flustered, turning red, his gaze shifting nervously around the room. He began stammering, then shut up and froze out of the room.

    "Yup."

    I blushed, realising that Sesh had actually cared. It made me think twice about all he'd done in the past year and a half.

    ~*~*~

    One by one the fourteen of us dragged into the back room the next morning, still half-asleep. Max was a little more awake than the rest of us—he'd been up a few minutes before us, and had made coffee.

    Ditz trailed in a few minutes after the rest of us, wearing his new face; I don't think that he'd meant to come in like that because he was still asleep from what I could tell. He slumped down in the armchair, head hung, a moment later he was snoring again. I teleported beside him and snapped by his ear and he jumped, exclaiming in surprise as he shot up, awake again.

    "Not get any sleep last night, dija?" I asked him.

    "I, uh... I suppose not...."

    "Anyone want to tell us who this guy is?" Max began. "I mean, this is my place you're staying in, ya know."

    "Huh?" He realised he wasn't exactly himself and laughed half-heartedly. "Oops."

    "Sort of vivid dreams you have that trigger your ability, huh?" I poked. He laughed again.

    "I guess so...." He giggled, letting his ears flop out of his head and his face to taper down into the usual muzzle with a smile. I swear, every one of them stared at him in surprise and awe. "Please dun stare at me."

    "Yup, that's Ditz," Asuka muttered, grabbing a donut out of the box.

    "How's about you knock it off, Ditto boy?" Nat grumbled, not liking his face-change one bit.

    "Sorry." He sighed and became himself again. "Gimme a donut," he stated aside, snatching two for himself. Munching on them, he smiled, happy as he slumped down into the armchair, tail swishing in contentment.

    A long silence passed before anything more was said. "I... I think that Ditz's got a good idea, guys," I began, hesitant to say anything.

    "Huh?" He looked at me, confused. "What idea?"

    "Your little façade, Ditto idiot," I smiled. "The media's going to be looking out for us, not to mention Team Rocket. We need to go into hiding, guys."

    "Hehe... it wasn't really my idea... just sort of and impulse. I like doing things like that."

    "Then you can help us, O Great Ditto Master," I snickered. He smiled nervously.

    "Huh? Wha—"

    "In head of the costuming department, Tacky," Sesh grumbled, munching on a dry donut. "No marmalade on day-old donut make Seshi go something something..." he muttered.

    "Poor rat boy," I fake-pouted, popping him some. He suddenly perked up and happily took the condiment from me. I giggled, everyone else groaning in dislike of the concept of Ditz putting us all in cognito.

    ~*~*~

    The twelve of us sat there, each awaiting their makeover.

    Sean's previously long 'auburn' hair now shone a shorter cinnamon brown. His eyes remained that sort of clover green.

    Sesh ended up older than he truly was, about eighteen; his blonde hair was now a shorter, dark burgundy, trimmed to be about four inches long and teased back, his eyes a soft black; he was about 6'5".

    Despite the fact that Ditz couldn't get her hair and eyes to be anything but that icy colour blue, Nat seemed to like her new face—a roundly edged, more tapered face, more of a flesh-toned complexion, her hair wonderfully short and frizzed to look much like a powder blue pompom. She looked a little older than fifteen, but not by much, and was also a few inches taller.

    Mattie's fairly short red hair was now shoulder-length, pulled up into two looped pigtails, her hazel eyes glittering brown. Her gaze seemed sort of friendlier in a way, her face with a warmer complexion, perhaps a rounder form. She was shorter than she'd been, about 5'4".

    Trey's alias turned out rather odd, but he said nothing, as Mattie liked it. His hair was now longer, falling about half a foot past his shoulders, hanging loosely from his head, his eyes a mysterious, alluring gold, hidden partially by a pair of small wire-framed glasses.

    Tane definitely gained the most years in her guise than the rest of us, being about twenty-four, seeming like a big sister of sorts, as she always had been. Her eyes shone a wonderfully creamy brown, and her previously short dusty brown hair hung just past her shoulders, now a dark blonde, but she said that she liked it better pulled back; because it was longer, it would get in her face.

    Sakura wouldn't let Ditz mess with her hair much; she liked it the way it was. He convinced her that it was for the best if her alias were to have less of the real Sakura showing through, and she soon had rather long black hair, pulled into looped pigtails, her emerald eyes now an ocean blue. She gained about two or three years on her age.

    Philo got two-toned hair out of the visage Ditz gave him, now a little longer and black-rooted with platinum blonde halfway from the tips, the Ditto boy taking his glasses away, making him about half a foot taller from his previous 5'8", and around seventeen.

    We all think Ditz had a little too much fun with Sarah—she had blonde—and brown-streaked red hair, around the same length it had been, her eyes a sort of carmine hazelish colour. She looked about fifteen now, her height 5'9"-ish. Her face seemed a little colder, a little sharper and tapered. She kind of reminded me of Sarina.

    Ditz was a little fed up by the time he got to Leo, but it didn't really show too much. He ended up seeming fourteen-ish, short black hair and crystal blue eyes, his face shorter and seemed a little more cheerful, I suppose. He still looked quite a bit like Leo, but the exact feeling you'd get around him was no longer there.

    I, of course, was last. Again. Ditz sat me down, sighing with relief that he was done with the task once he'd finished with me. He giggled at his handiwork, handing me the mirror. My face was then longer, my nose as well, my face dimpling with even a slight smile. My then cinnamon brown hair tickled my neck; I liked it longer. I was about 5'10", and looked about eighteen. I growled, bright red.

    "DITZ!!" I complained, looking frustratedly between the mirror and Sesh. The Raichu giggled at me, blushing too.

    "Tacky, that's not funny," he chided, snickering in apprehension.

    "Why isn't it funny? You look good together." He laughed half-heartedly, his chuckling slowly dying away. "If you really dun like it I'll change it, Kit...."

    "Nonono, it's fine," I began, afraid of hurting his feelings. He'd done such a good job on the others', and had worked so hard on mine.... It just didn't feel right to tell him that I didn't like Sesh, and it'd hurt the Raichu too. Something I didn't want to do to either.

    ~*~*~*~*~*~

    I sighed in annoyance, sitting at my desk with a mirror as I tried to smooth my face back the way it had been. It took a while, but I soon was my handsome self again.

    "I tell you that little Ditto kid is a nuisance," I grumbled, looking to Sarina, who reclined on my couch.

    "He's just getting you back, dear," she replied indifferently, obviously drifting off. "You were, after all, the one responsible for all this mess."

    "*I* am?! You're the one that gave them some of your necklaces!" I complained.

    "Ah, but I'm only giving them more strengths so Darean and the others don't attack them openly."

    "You think a handful of strands will keep any one of them away? They're children, my dear, and so callow when it comes to that sort of thing." My tail twitched under my seat in annoyance. "Sarina, you don't think that they'll come back... do you?"

    "You never know with that bunch, Scyrus. They may be children, but they're still not your average humans, are they now?" She looked to me and giggled. "I do believe Keiji's better with his Ditto strand than you are with yours, dear." I groaned, looking in the mirror again, finding my fix had been ephemeral.

    "I give up. If that twerp doesn't come back and fix my face, I'm going to sic my Rockets on him."

    "You'll do no such thing! He's just a little boy!" Sarina sat up and looked at me scornfully.

    "All right, fine. If I can't bring him to me, then I'll go to him."

    ~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~



    Chapter Twenty-One

    ::Sesh::

    We were upstairs, thinking up names for each other, and it got to be quite an amusement. Kit called me Machisu, the Gym Leader of Lightning-types from over a thousand years ago. I liked it. =^_^=

    We all fell silent, hearing Max yelp, focusing our hearing downstairs.

    "Please don't glare, young man. I need to see one of your friends."

    "Wh—one of... my friends...?" he began, stammering.

    "Don't play games with me. I know you harbour the Roses here." Giovanni had come here to Sunny!

    "Th—the Roses? Why would they stay here?"

    Putting a finger to my lips, I motioned that I was going to go downstairs. Kit, stay a few steps behind me just in case he's got Rockets with him. She nodded in assent. With that, I crept down the stairs and poked my head around the corner.

    "Now, sir, tell me where they are," Giovanni ground, great annoyance and anger on his face and in his voice.

    I gasped, seeing Max pinned to the wall about three feet off the floor. By nothing. Giovanni had his hand out before him, as Kit might have done when she was using her psychic ability. This brought me to freeze in my tracks, scared out of my mind.

    The man caught sight of me and turned to look to me. "Ah. Wasn't that hard, now, was it?" he asked of Max, letting him fall to the floor. "Don't believe I've seen your face before. You've taken on aliases, I presume?"

    "You're an intelligent man." I growled a moment. "....Or are you even a man?"

    "What's this supposed to mean?" he grinned, eyes narrowed in bemusement.

    I walked down the remains of the stairs and stood before him, great annoyance in my glare. "You are nothing but a fool, Giovanni, to come here like this. No Rockets... why?"

    "I'm a resourceful man. I don't need others to do my own work for me." He sighed. "You aren't Keiji; I can sense that about you. I need to see him."

    "You need to see him, tell him yourself."

    "You're in rather cross moods with me," he remarked, walking past me upstairs. "I would've thought that you'd have come to trust me by now."

    "Trust you? That's rich. You're the one that ripped us away from our homes, from our families, from our lives. And for what? To please some jerks?"

    "Ahh, Toshi," he deduced, smiling at me. "You wouldn't rather have the power you now have, the friends and family you've made in the past year?"

    "Actually, I'd still rather have my mother back."

    "You're sure about that?" He laughed at my scowl.

    "What do you want from me?" T.K. began, standing in the presence of the man whom had inquired of him.

    "My dear boy, I've grown tired of your handiwork. I'd simply adore it if you'd give me my face back."

    "And why would I do that? It suits you so."

    "Keiji, don't go against the guy," I warned. "Just do as he says." He saw the worry in my eyes and complied.

    "All right, fine. Just sit down." Giovanni smiled, making himself comfortable in the armchair, the eleven of us encircling the two, T.K. sitting on the edge of the coffee table as he went to put the man's face back the way it had been.

    ~*~*~*~*~*~

    ::Ditz::

    I put my fingers to Giovanni's face, hesitant to undo my work, but did anyway. I didn't understand what Toshi was so afraid of....

    As I worked over his face, I could somehow feel a certain scaliness beneath his skin for some reason, a texture that hadn't been there the first time. I began revealing this underlying face and yelped when I finished, finding what seemed to be a snoutless crocodile staring me in the face.

    Giovanni opened his amethyst eyes, hearing my exclamation. He touched his face, finding it to be in such a condition, and growled at me. "This isn't funny, little Ditto boy," he ground, baring fangs at me. I scrambled back from him, the others taking a step back as well.

    "D—Ditz... what'd you do to him?!" Meilin demanded, staring at Giovanni fearfully.

    He glared at her. "You know this face, as should you, Keiji." The two of us stared at him for the longest before whimpering in fear. "You do." He let out a short laugh, continuing the transformation that I'd started, a reptilian tail snaking out from underneath him, his ears tapering away from his face to look rather elven.

    "Y—you... you are the one who kidnapped us..." she uttered.

    "You believe me," Giovanni muttered, losing his smile, then sighing. "You know I'm not human... now I can tell you the whole truth." He paused. "The seven who experimented upon you are my siblings. They're like me, I suppose, in the fact that they're more than human as well. The eight of us... we're the Yamis."

    "The Yamis?" she echoed. "But how is that possible?! The Yamis are myth!"

    He hung his head, smiling to himself again. "Ah, delusioned children.... The Yamis are quite real." He chuckled a moment. "The others concurred that they wanted prey with a little more... spice to the chase, and thus kidnapped the Ecruteak Fifteen. There probably would have been more of you if you hadn't put up such a fight, Meilin."

    "Then I'm glad I bit you," she grumbled.

    "Spiteful, little one. I'm on your side, darlings." He sighed. "I only do what they tell me to so I'm not on their bad sides.... They're far stronger than I am, and I'd rather be in their favour than against it. I didn't truly want to allow them to do this to all of you... I just had to go along...."

    "Then why come here like this, where we could gang up on you?" I inquired.

    "I'm perfectly capable of defending myself. When I first became a part of the Yami clan...." He chuckled. "The seven of you are knowledgeable in the Bell Tower of Ecruteak?" We all nodded slowly, confused. "It's rubble because of my handiwork." We all gagged at this. "All of a sudden so frightened of me, are we?"

    "Sh—shut up and get out of here," Toshi uttered, stammering.

    "I can tell I've worn out my welcome. I've gotten what I came here for, so I suppose I can say 'until next time,' then?" He laughed, vanishing into thin air.

    "Anyone have any ideas as to how to deal with this little tidbit of information?" I muttered.

    ~*~*~*~*~*~

    ::Xyra::

    I sighed in delight as I strolled along the city streets of Cerulean, twirling a lock of my shoulder-length pale lavender hair about my finger. I knew there were seven of them here... maybe I could catch one for a little fun.

    My search proved fruitless and I gave up about twenty minutes later. Vanishing from where I had once been, I teleported up atop the roof of one of the taller buildings of the area. I focused my thoughts and soon found my targets had moved on from this town. I vanished again, this time finding myself sitting atop the roof of a small shop. Chuckling to myself about my good luck, I continued on to carry out my own plans.

    ~*~*~*~*~*~

    ::Kit::

    The twelve of us ate dinner after the incident, and not soon after were all settling in to go to sleep.

    I laid down on my new sleeping bag—a black one—and began my usual dreaming, staring up at the black starry night. I sighed, encompassing myself in the stars, my mind wandering among the twinkling points of light in the sky. I wrapped myself up in the glittering tapestry and fell asleep.

    When I awoke, I found myself stuck in my sleeping bag. I felt like a Metapod.

    Trey heard me struggling and just stood there, snickering at me. "Hey guys, lookit this." Smack! He landed on the carpet with a thud. "Oww...."

    Sesh turned over on the couch and looked to me, and I whimpered. "Aw guys, that's not funny.... She can't get out," he played, acting like he wasn't laughing his head off at me in telepathy. I whimpered as he came over to me. He knelt down and unzipped the thing. "You're a dork, Kit."

    "I don't know why I was stuck," I whined. "It's not funny, either...."

    "Sure it wasn't," he mocked.

    ~*~*~

    We ate breakfast in silence, the others all snickering lightly at me; I ate with a face the colour of the ketchup on my eggs.

    "Will you knock it off?!" I exclaimed after about ten minutes. "It's NOT funny!!"

    "Grouchy," Nat muttered, munching on a piece of bacon indifferently. "It's just kinda strange, ya know?"

    "Could we not talk about it...? Please?"

    "Whatever."

    ~*~*~

    I went upstairs, leaving the rest of them either eating or planning to go out, and plopped down on the couch, taking a nap. I didn't think that I'd gotten hardly any sleep the night before.

    ~*~*~*~

    I opened my eyes slowly, a little confused. Looking around, I saw that I was in a large pale room... five rooms stemming off it—I was laying on a couch. I felt my forehead to see if I were ill, finding my hair to be rather long. I pulled a lock of it into my sight and yelped, finding it to be a very light brown. My hair was chocolate brown... not this.... I looked at my hands; it confirmed that I literally wasn't myself.

    I was terrified, being someplace I didn't know... not understanding why I was someone else.... I screamed.

    A guy came running upstairs—burgundy hair down to his ears, about eighteenish. I cowered back from him, feeling strange about him.

    "Kit, what's the matter?" he began, seeming confused.

    "'Kit?'" I echoed. "What's a 'Kit,' and who are you?"

    He stared at me. "You have gotta be kidding me." He thought a moment. "Meilin," he corrected, "why'd you scream?"

    "I... I don't understand. Why am I here, and where's my sister?"

    He sighed in pain of the words he were about to say. "Y-you... you were kidnapped, Meilin. You don't remember anything?"

    "Kidnapped?!!" I exclaimed, staring at the guy in utter grief. "How dare you rip me away from my family!"

    He cringed back, holding his arms up defencively as if to shield himself with them. "I—I didn't kidnap you!!" he began, nervous. "I was too!!"

    "Wh—why are you cowering from me?" I began, sitting up and looking at him in confusion.

    "Y—I thought that you were going to smack me."

    "I don't hit people...."

    He snorted. "I can prove otherwise. I've got the bruises to show for it."

    I flustered, feeling like he was evading me. "You never told me who you were," I ground.

    "I—I—" He laughed nervously. "You won't believe me...."

    "Try me."

    At this he sighed, his hair longer and dirty blond, and he was about sixteen now. I choked, scrambling back away from him, scared out of my mind.

    "Meilin, if you don't remember any of this, we've got a problem." Not soon after Toshi said this, I blacked out.

    ~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~



    Chapter Twenty-Two

    I opened my eyes slowly, sore, and groaned, squinting them shut again. I looked around, still where I had been before. I yelped when I saw Toshi standing there, worry upon his face.

    I couldn't tell it was him from his physical appearance, but just from the presence I'd always been able to sense about people; it was like an essence, a... feeling I'd get when I knew someone in particular was nearby.

    The reason I say that I couldn't tell he was Toshi simply by looking at him was why I had yelped—he looked like he was half-Raichu.

    As I stammered incoherently, wide-eyed, he hung his head in dolour of the situation. "You've clearly got amnesia," he began, walking closer to me. "But how you got it, I have no clue."

    "T—Toshi...?"

    "What?"

    "Y—you're not him.... He wouldn't care about me like this...." He looked to me, surprised at my remark.

    "Meilin, I only acted like that because I didn't know how to tell you.... I thought that maybe if I acted that way, that I could maybe get you to like me. I don't even understand it now...." He sighed. "It's been a year and a half now, since the Enhancement took place."

    "What was Enhanced?" I uttered, confused.

    "Us," he muttered tersely, eyes shut in annoyance, his ears flat against his head. "How'd you think I got like this?"

    I just sat there a moment before saying anything; I didn't respond to the obviously rhetorical out-of-anger question. "Who's 'us?'"

    He groaned. "The Ecruteak Fifteen, Meilin. You don't need the particulars right now.... We just need to get you to the Prof. She'll know what to do."

    "'The Prof?'" I echoed.

    He didn't respond, walking down the hall and it sounded like he went down a story of stairs as well.

    "Toshi...?"

    I whimpered, feeling cold all of a sudden.

    Some commotion was raised over his being half-Raichu, being "out in the open," as one voice had complained, but it soon died down.

    "Guys, we need to go see Jarrell. Kit's gone mentally unstable."

    "I could've told ya that," one male voice muttered. I snorted at this.

    "Trey, shut up. I'm serious. She doesn't remember anything from, like, a month before the Enhancement." Another roar of commotion.

    "What would this Jarrell know about helping her?" a girl inquired, not knowing who this Jarrell was. I continued to listen closely, trying to understand what was going on.

    "Professor Jarrell is the guardian of the Ecruteak Fifteen," another replied; this female was older than the first girl. The first made sound of comprehension. "The sooner, the better, right?"

    Eleven soon came upstairs to me again, and I inched back from them.

    "Meilin, it's all right," the woman soothed, the one that had told the girl who Jarrell was. "You'll be fine. You just have to trust us. We're your friends."

    "H—who are you people?" I demanded fearfully, staring at some of them shed the forms in which they had previously been, revealing themselves to be like Toshi. There was Rei, Ianna, Cori, Philo... and Keiji, that I could sense.

    "We're the Roses," she answered, the twelve of us suddenly reappearing in another place.

    ~*~*~*~*~*~

    ::Ditz::

    "Prof?" Toshi began, walking down the hall that stemmed off from the room were were in.

    Kit began hyperventilating, her glances darting frantically about the room, uncomprehending of how in the world she had gotten here. Tane placed her hands on her shoulders, trying to calm her down, and she jumped, yelping as she scrambled away from us. Backed up against the farthest wall, she stared at us, frightened out of her mind.

    A woman came back with Toshi. She was about thirty-five, with long blonde hair and beautiful blue eyes. Forgetting all about us, Kit began to stare at her in awe.

    Not an uncommon reaction to meeting Jarrell.

    "Jarrell, she doesn't remember anything, I swear!"

    The Prof made her way slowly to the frightened girl, trying not to scare her, though Kit seemed to not be frightened of her in the slighest. "Meilin, tell me the last thing you remember."

    "I... I was fighting with my sister Jackie over my CDs...."

    "Do any of you know how she got this?" All of us shook our heads.

    "She had a bit of a traumatic incident involving her sleeping bag earlier..." Toshi remarked, feeling like he thought it might help the situation, but kind of fearing that he was jsut a moron.

    Jarrell was blank. "Um, I'm just not going to ask...." She shook the daze and sighed.

    Kit began snickering to herself, drawing all attentions to herself. Her head was hung, leaving us unable to see her face as her snickering soon turned to maniacal cackling; she shut up abruptly, her head picking up to glare at the twelve of us evilly, a demented, crooked grin upon her face. She grabbed the Prof by the arm, a sword materialising in her free hand, which she soon brought to rest roughly against Jarrell's neck.

    "I suppose I *do* get to have some fun, after all," Kit grinned to herself, her blue eyes glittering evilly amethyst, her voice not her own.

    ~*~*~

    We stood there in utter disbelief that this was happening.

    "Ah, sister..." Kit smiled, pulling the blade ever-closer to cutting Jarrell's throat. The Prof broke a cold sweat, face twitching in fear.

    "Derisha, keiyuu," she spat in reply. "Leave them out of this."

    "But why exclude them from the festivities? They're the main attraction!" At this, Kit cackled again.

    "Kit, what are you doing?!" I exclaimed, taking a step back when her gaze was set upon me.

    "Child, I'm not your little friend. In fact, I do believe you shall come to fear the Xyra rather quickly."

    "D—don't hurt Jarrell!" Ianna uttered, fearful.

    "Now why not?" she replied innocently. "Traitour," she whispered in Jarrell's ear.

    "You're all monsters!" she hissed.

    "We are, are we?" Xyra brought the sword to cut into Jarrell's throat ever so slightly, but enough to draw blood. "I suppose we are."

    I couldn't take it anymore and jumped her, knocking Jarrell out of the way.

    "No..." she uttered, watching in horror as Xyra took a slice at me.

    What happened to me next is hazed, and I can't remember exactly how it happened, but slowly I felt my mind begin to separate into two separate, yet unified entities as I skidded across the floor behind Xyra. I strangely felt as if I were sitting up twice, rubbing two different heads... yet... both were mine....

    My tail swished up against something; it felt like it had been a warm body, and I turned to look. I yelped aloud when I saw I was staring at myself. And there wasn't a mirror there.

    "T—T.K...?" Toshi began. "Wh—what'd you just do?"

    "I—I don't know!" both of me uttered at the same time. I shuddered at hearing myself in stereo. Then I reached out my hand ever so slowly and put it up against my other half's, staring at myself in awe.

    "Somehow, I don't think that I'm going to like having twin brothers...."

    ~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~



    Chapter Twenty-Three

    "This is just strange..." both of me whispered, gaze unmoving from each other's eyes.

    "Um, could someone explain how he... did that?" Jarrell uttered, pale.

    "Hehe...." Toshi scratched the back of his head, nervous. "Sarina gave us necklaces that gave us Pokémon's abilities."

    The others stood there, unable to do anything but stare at us. We looked to them, ears flush against our heads, upset. "Will you stop staring at me?" we complained.

    "I suppose it kinda makes some sense," he continued. "I've read in journals that research has proved that a Ditto's form is completely amoebic, and amoeba have regenerative properties.... So technically, it's like he's two smaller Ditto."

    "And because of that, I should also be able to become one entity again," we muttered, sighing. I focused my thoughts and closed my eyes, soon feeling like I'd melted. When I opened my eyes again, I found only one of me. But the others were all glaring at me in disgust. "What?"

    "Th—that's sick!!" Nat whined.

    "It's not my fault it happened..." I began. Looking around at that thought, I found that Xyra was gone. "Geez... where'd she take Meilin?"

    "You never know what she's going to do," Jarrell sighed, melancholy.

    "How do you know her?" Cori inquired.

    "She... she's my sister."

    ~*~*~

    Jarrell hung her head a moment in agony of saying so, but when she looked up to us again, her once ocean blue eyes shone crystalline purple, her ears tapered and elven. "But you know now, don't you?"

    "Y—you're not...!" Rei uttered, all of us staring at her in disbelief and fright.

    "How else do you think I got to being your caretaker? The Yamis needed one of their own to watch over you."

    After a moment of silence, Philo asked, "Wh—why'd Kit call you a traitour?"

    "I refused to join them," she replied. "They... the power went straight to their heads. They were cruel from the start, always torturing defenceless animals...." She paused. "They knew better than to mess with me, for a while, but I suppose they're back for me." The remark brought tears to her eyes.

    "Jarrell...." I knelt down to her and dried her tears. "We won't let them hurt you."

    "How are you going to stand up to them?"

    I put my arms around her neck, hugging her. "You... you're like a mother to us all. We'll defend you all we can."

    ~*~*~

    "What's with Xyra and her sword?" Toshi began, the twelve of us sitting in Jarrell's study.

    "She calls it by the name Ineria. It's like a child to her, her weapon. Xyra possesses her victims, then kills all those close to them."

    "If she loves her sword so much, then let her come with her Ineria," he grinned, scheming. When his glance shot to me, I freaked, seeing the plotting, impish glint in his eyes.

    "Wh—what??!" I yelped.

    "You're going to play Jarrell, my little Ditto friend."

    ~*~*~

    "WHAT?! Why?!!"

    "If Xyra wants to kill Jarrell, then we need someone who can take the slicing and dicing." I went pale at his terminology.

    "Sesh, you're insane!" Mattie exclaimed, Tail Slapping him. He winced and cringed back. "He's just a little kid!!"

    "He's the most experienced with the aureate necklace," he rationalised. "I don't think that any of us could take it any better than him."

    "I.... If it's to protect Jarrell, I'll do it," I agreed, solemn expression upon my face. I sighed, hanging my head in thought, not long after taking on the countenance of our camaraderie. Jarrell stared at me in awe and fear.

    "You're getting really good at that, you know?" Toshi uttered. "Too good...."

    I giggled with my own voice and all of them shuddered. I laughed a little at their response to this, then switched over to using a more suitable voice.

    "O—okay... in the mean time, Tacky stays here while we take Jarrell out in the Argent Forest. Hopefully, she'll think that you're her, and not come after the real thing."

    I slumped down into the leather chair at Jarrell's desk and looked to the cup of tea sitting before me. I picked it up and took a sniff of it, then made a face, putting it down. "Too much lemon...."

    With that, they left the decoy to play his part.

    ~*~*~

    I sighed, looking over Jarrell's selection of books to read, pulling out one of the magazine-looking ones on the end of one shelf: The Kanto Journal of Pokémon Technological Advances. Flipping through it randomly, I stopped at one on the latest version of the Pokédex, laying back on the couch to read it with a fresh cup of tea, with less lemon, of course.

    I heard footsteps but saw no one and slowly put my reading down, looking around the room to see if I could hear where they were. I stood, only to find Xyra come at me from above and behind me. I screamed in fright.

    She took what seemed to be dozens of slices at me before she fell motionless. I stood there for a good half a minute before falling to the floor in slices. The familiar haze washed over me as I heard her cackling at her handiwork, but she shut up not a moment later, seeing me reform as ten separate Jarrells.

    "Wh—what sort of trickery is this?!" she exclaimed, taking slices apprehensively and randomly at the ten of me. Soon instead of ten there were twenty. Then twenty-five. Then thirty-two. When she saw she was surrounded, she became completely paralysed with fright. I used Mimic in order to arm each of me with an exact duplicate of her sword Ineria, and all colour washed from Xyra's terrified face.

    "This naught be trickery, but revenge," we growled, readying our arms to attack her. Fortunately, I didn't have to do it, the monstrousity screaming in sheer terror, seeming to faint. I sighed with relief and meshed back together, feeling content that I'd done a good job.

    ~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~



    Chapter Twenty-Four

    ::Kit::

    I came to kneel on the floor, and picked my head up slowly to find but one face—Jarrell's. She smiled when she saw me, and rushed to kneel beside me and hug me tight. I hugged back, a little confused.

    "Meilin, I'm so glad you're okay!" She looked me in the face with happy tears in her eyes.

    "Wh—what happened?" I began. "And how'd I end up here?"

    "You had an incident with a Yami," she explained. "Xyra may be skilled, but she's not very sharp." She snickered at the term 'sharp.'

    I was starting to get freaked out with Jarrell, so I decided to change the subject. "Um, where are the others? Are they okay?"

    "They're fine. They're keeping an eye on Jarrell so Xyra doesn't get her."

    I gagged. "WHAT?!!"

    She realised what she'd said and laughed nervously. "Sorry." She shed her outer form, revealing Ditz sitting there with me. "They needed a decoy, so they went for the best choice when it comes to playing dress-up."

    "B—But where's Xyra?"

    "She's gone." He sighed. "You dun remember anything... do you?"

    "Should I?"

    Ditz made a face. "I guess she didn't want you to remember." He sighed again. "I think we need to just sit tight for now, at least until the others come back. Xyra will more likely want to attack me than Jarrell now...." He snickered evilly.

    "Okay... what'd you do now, Ditto idiot?"

    "You dun wanna know."

    "You wanna bet?"

    "Suit yourself." A fissure appeared down the middle of his face, then soon down his entire body, then each half became a completely separate Ditz. I freaked. "Cool, huh?" I shuddered at the sound of two of him speaking in unison and he giggled at my disgust as he melted back together.

    "Do I want to ask how you figured out you do that?" I muttered.

    "Prolly not."

    ~*~*~

    The others came back about ten minutes later, a little apprehensive of the situation at hand. Sesh saw I was okay and rushed to hug me much like Ditz had. This show of emotion freaked me out even more than Ditz.

    "Kit, are you okay?" he asked me, worried for once.

    "Yeah, I *think* I'm okay.... I think I'm still unconscious though. Did you just... hug me?"

    He turned beet red at the inquiry, as it had brought on the gawking of the others. "I—I—" He shut up and froze away. We all giggled at him, my face turning that same colour red in embarrassment.

    ~*~*~*~*~*~

    ::Sesh::

    I sat in my room, on the end of the bed as I looked out the window over downtown Pewter City. The lights were just beginning to flicker on, the sun soon to set. I sighed in reminisce, holding my guitar in my lap as I thought about Meilin's and my escapade down in the city.

    ~*~*~

    "Hey Meilin, whadda ya think you're doing?" I began, walking up behind the Vaporeon girl who'd sneaked out of her quarters, on her way down to the city below.

    She stopped in her tracks, whirling around to laugh nervously. "You wanna come with me?"

    I sighed. "Fine.... Jarrell'll kill us either way for sneaking out."

    "Oh c'mon! It'll be fun." I rolled my eyes and followed her.

    We came to the skirts of town, in the suburbs near to the Argent Forest, the both of us smelling something cooking.

    I looked up in the night sky to find a full moon and got an idea. Smirking, I got down on all fours and slowly crept up to the line of bushes around someone's back yard. Meilin snickered lightly and followed my lead.

    "Raii, raichu," I whispered to her, trying to be heard by the little kids playing tag.

    "Vaporrr."

    "
    Hey Jou, did you hear that?" one girl uttered to a little boy.

    "Aviva, you're a scaredy cat," he teased. "It's probably just some roosting Pidgey."

    I rustled the bushes a bit, getting both of their attentions as I suppressed the severe urge to laugh my head off.

    "Raiiichu chu rai," I whispered again.

    "There it is again," she whined.

    "There's nothing there! Look, I'll show you."

    Jou made his way over to the shrubbery, a little afraid himself that it may actually be something dangerous. He leaned over the bush to see, only to find me crouching there, staring back with eyes that seemed to glow in the moonlight. I came to stand at his eye-level for a moment, then stood in full view, looking down upon the frightened little boy's head. Meilin stood beside me, a fang-filled smirk upon her face. She fell into a fighting stance, extending her claws from the tips of her fingers about an inch. The Vaporeon glared at the two of them and let loose a cat-like roar, the pair backing off.

    The adults had heard her, and the entire yard fell silent to our presence. I grinned evilly, my entire form covered in electricity. At this point, every one of them ran inside to watch us carefully through the glass doors.

    The two of us jumped over the shrubs and walked up to the barbecue, snuffling what lay on the grill. I grabbed a rack of ribs and the two of us plopped down on the patio to eat. Right in front of the glass door, right in front of the spectating humans.

    'You're right,' I remarked, munching contently on a rib. 'This
    is fun.'

    She giggled. 'Told ya.'

    "A—aww..." one of the people inside complained, hands on the door. "Those were *our* ribs! They're eating our dinner!" Flattening my ears against my head and turning to glare at him, I stopped eating, rib still in my mouth, and growled at the guy, lip quaivering and nose crinkled. At this he scrambled back, laughing nervously. "Y—you can have them!! It's okay!!! Just go right ahead...!" I snorted in assent and annoyance, resuming my feast.

    'Y'know, we're evil,' Meilin remarked. I grinned at her.

    'It was your idea to come down here, Miss I Wanna Go and Play Were-Pokémon.'

    'Hey! That was your idea.'

    'Whatever. Doesn't really matter who did it; we're still both going to get blamed for this.'

    'Then let's make this meal to go,' she hinted, taking three more in her mouth. I shook my head in bemusement, taking two myself as we continued on on our little farce.


    ~*~*~

    'Hey Tosh, you want somethin'?' Meilin inquired, coming to plop down on the sidewalk outside a store.

    My jaw dropped at her absolute audacity. 'Y—you're going to go in there?!'

    'Heh. Why not?'

    'Well, for starters... no pets allowed.' She smacked me with the blunt of her tail and I groaned. 'It was just a joke...."

    'Shaddap.'

    With that she Acid Armoured, reforming inside under a rack of clothes, having slipped under the door unseen. A woman came to peruse the rack under which she was hidden, and she stepped on her tail. Meilin melted her tail in order to relinquish the wrath of the woman's spike-heel, carressing it solemnly.

    The woman had heard her cry out for that mere second she had, and pulled apart the sweaters to look within. She screamed when she saw Meilin sitting there, grinning apprehensively. I smacked my forehead.

    "Hiya," she greeted, laughing half-heartedly. The woman fainted and Meilin Acid Armoured again, reforming in another area of the store.

    Meilin, you're going to get us caught! I thought to myself in worry, looking behind myself, on edge, then back to the Vaporeon girl's antics.

    She'd grabbed a few articles of clothes and some other various things, and now stood at the counter. The clerk yelped, staring at her in fright, backed up against the wall. She chunked a small bag of pieces down on the counter and smiled. He would liked to have fainted right then and there, staring at the black satchel in utter disbelief.

    "Vaporrr, porii poreon," she thanked with a huge grin, making her way out, content.

    'You are so getting us killed,' I complained, walking with her down the street.

    'Nah. Just really close to it.' She chuckled. 'Here.' The Vaporeon handed me a black leather jacket and I looked it over in awe. 'There's an earring in the pocket too.' I dug in the breast pocket to find it, and smiled, putting it back and trying the jacket on. 'Looks good on ya,' she complimented.


    ~*~*~

    "You should know better than to leave. You two are both confined to your quarters for the rest of the month. Meilin, you can go back to your room. Toshi needs to stay here with me for a moment."

    "But—"

    "Toshi, I told you not to go out on your own," Jarrell snapped, cutting me off. My ears drooped. "I know you're upset, but just look at it this way. What if you'd gotten caught by the police, or even worse, that they had shot at you? Or maybe if they'd captured you and decided that they wanted to experiment on you?" She held my chin up to look at me in the eyes. "Toshi, you have no idea how worried I was when I found the two of you were gone. I thought someone had come here and taken you."

    "Prof, I'm sorry," I apologised, unable to look her in the face any longer. "I... we just wanted to see the city. We've been here for what, seven months now, and all we can do is sit around here and do nothing? Jarrell, we snuck out because we wanted some excitement. It really hurts to be taken away from your mother, and then be stuck in the dark for months on end with no way to see her." I suppressed the urge to cry, then sighed. "But then again, she wouldn't really
    want us back, would she?"

    My sudden show of emotion startled her, and her face washed over in feeling the pain I was going through. She hugged me tight, and I hugged back. "Toshi... it's going to be just fine. You just have to rise above it." She sighed. "I'm sorry I got upset with you, but you do understand how afraid I was when you turned up missing?" I nodded, then pulled away from her a little, feeling a little less depressed. "Tell you what. I'll give you and Meilin priveledges to be able to go outside, all right?"

    "Sure," I agreed, smiling a little. At least I'd get a little further away from Heritage. But I didn't quite want to leave... just... I never understood what I wanted, not until I was able to leave.


    ~*~*~

    Kit had become someone that was recently always on my mind. I'd always worry if she were all right, what she was doing, where she was.... I sighed, plinking a little at my guitar, fingernails for a pic.

    "Itsumo yori maji na hyoujou wo tooku kara nirami-nagara,
    Nande darou wake mo naku iji ni natte shimau...?

    Ki ni naru aitsu, fushigi na aitsu,
    Kyou mo yokome de chekku shite....
    Shiranai uchi ni sou naze ka aitsu no peesu hamatte 'ru...?***
    "

    I heard someone listening to me, and turned to find her standing at the door, blushing.


    *** Ki ni Naru Aitsu is a song from Cardcaptor Sakura that I felt suited this chapter perfectly. I take no credit in its creation. A translation is not currently available from me. If you really want one, check AnimeLyrics.

    ~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~



    Chapter Twenty-Five

    "I—I—" I flustered, the both of us bright red.

    I don't know why, but—she kissed me. Or maybe I kissed her. We kissed. And it wasn't just some insignificant peck on the cheek either. My entire world changed right then and there, realising that she loved me too.

    When the both of us pulled away from each other, we each sighed in awe and embarrassment that we'd just kissed.

    "I—I had no idea that you cared for me that much, Tosh," she began.

    I laughed light-heartedly, nervous. "Hehe... I—I didn't know you were standing there."

    "I know." She smiled, and we kissed again.

    There lingered for a moment within her a sort of feeling I'd not before felt from her, something that didn't quite feel right about her, and a sensation like ice running me through. I pulled away after a moment, unable to breathe, Kit pushing me down to fall to my knees in unconsolable pain. Clutching my stomach, it felt wet, and warm. I pulled my hand to my face to see it covered in blood. I looked up to her face in agony, finding her grinning evilly at me, standing prostrate with the sword she'd recently come to know, this time bloodied by her strike.

    "Xyra," I hissed, baring my fangs at her. "Get—out of—Meilin before—"

    "Before you what, my dear boy?" she grinned, bending down to caress my face, then holding my chin and staring into my eyes. I snapped at her and she backed off a little. Xyra chuckled a moment. "Toshi, you won't be doing a single thing to me, not in your condition."

    My fur stood on end in enfuriation at her cackling, out of breath as I growled animalistically at the beast.

    I froze her, but not Kit. She collapsed, leaving the haunting apparition floating there above her. I grabbed Xyra's sword and unfroze her, then smirked, running her through ever so pleasureably as she had me. Her face washed over in horror as her form became flesh, able to feel the icy blade in her. She let out a short screech of agony before disintigrating before my very eyes. "Bitch," I whispered, hatred in my voice. With that, I fell to the floor again, exhausted and in agony, propping myself upon the Ineria, the blade of ice now having a new owner.

    ~*~*~

    "Toshi!" Kit uttered, coming to kneel beside me. She saw my condition and began to worry.

    I laughed meekly. "Kit, it's okay." I groaned at having to breathe. "It's already healed a little."

    "B—But how?"

    "You know Tak got sliced in half and he became two different Taks? I think the Ditto strand makes us partially amoebic in the sense that injuries heal faster." I smiled. "Y'know, it's kinda disgusting when you think about it. You get a part of you cut off and it becomes another living, breathing you. It's, like—" She kissed me again and I shut up.

    ~*~*~

    "Okay, you all are going to explain what the heck is going on," Jarrell complained, all twenty-one of us sitting in the main room of Heritage.

    "The Gym Leader of Lavender, Sarina, gave us splicing necklaces that gave us each a different Pokémon's abilites," Kit explained. At this Jarrell got a look of annoyance in her face. "What?"

    "Sarina just loves to show off her necklaces, that's all."

    "Wait, you know her?"

    "Oh Lord, everyone knows that woman," she grumbled. "If it were up to me, I'd say that it was her fault that the fifteen of you are in this mess. She was the one with the superiour genetic knowledge that aided the Yamis in the Enhancement. Of course, she didn't do it under her own volition, but of Scyrus' and and Randall's—"

    "RANDALL?!" Kit choked.

    "Yes, why?"

    "The Gym Leader of Viridian City is a Yami?! I touched him?!!" She made a face in disgust.

    "That's sweet," Jarrell muttered.

    "Aw Prof...." She made a face. "I'm sorry, I just have a serious thing against your siblings. All of us do."

    "Ah, wait," Julie began. "I'm confused here."

    Kit sighed. "You guys dunno. I forgot. The Yamis are the ones that were responsible for the Enhancement, and since Jarrell's their youngest sister, she got to be the one to take care of us."

    "Thank you, Meilin," Jarrell ground.

    "Sorry. ^^;;"

    "But anyway..." I began, "since the others have shown themselves, I don't really think we should be around Heritage. They'll more likely come after us than the others." The other Roses nodded in assent.

    "Sesh, I think that three or four of us should stay here just in case," Tak remarked. "Someone should be here to defend Jarrell and the others if the Yamis try anything."

    "Little guy, you're not the best one to be here protecting Jarrell. If you stay here, they're going to come at her like nothing's stopping them. They'll not only be out for her head, but yours as well."

    "Yeah, but look at it this way—will mine roll?" He snickered at everyone's abhorrence.

    "Tacky, not only was that disgusting, but completely stupid. You'd be willing to keep doing that to keep her safe? Why not come up with better defences than being hacked to bits?"

    "You're right..." he sighed.

    "I'll stay," Sakura volunteered. "Jarrell doesn't deserve this."

    "And if she stays, I stay," Philo seconded, looking to Sakura.

    "You guys don't need me," Leo rationalised. "I could be better used here."

    "Aw, Leo," Sarah complained, upset that he'd said something like that. In truth, I think he just said it to get her to hug him.

    "Me too," Mattie continued.

    "And me," Trey added, placing his hand on Mattie's.

    "Then it's settled," I remarked. "The Roses are separated."


    ~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~


    Chapter Twenty-Six

    Once we'd gotten back to Sunny, I sighed, slumping back on Max's couch, reclining with my feet up on the coffee table and kicking my shoes off underneath.

    "That's definitely something I dun wanna happen again," Tacky complained, curling up in his sleeping bag.

    ~*~*~

    "Hey, where are the rest of you?" Max began, seeing that seven of us were missing.

    "Er, we had a tad of a mishap," Kit explained, grinning nervously as we ate breakfast the next day.

    "A mishap?!" I exploded. "A MISHAP?!! YOU CALL FINDING OUT WHAT GETTING A SWORD SHOVED IN YOUR STOMACH IS LIKE A MISHAP?!?!!"

    "Sorry!" she defended, laughing nervously.

    "One of the Yamis attacked us, Max," I muttered, putting my hand to the left side of my stomach, pulling my T-shirt up to look at my wounds. I sighed in dolour, running my fingers over the round scar of pinkish tan flesh, and the single long, thin streak of the same colour, just to the right of the bullet wound the blade's valiant mark scarred my hide. I let my black T-shirt fall over my jeans waist again.

    My ears flush against my head, I stuffed a spoon of miniwheats in my mouth.

    "Aw Sesh, it's not your fault that they want to kill you!" she offered, attempting to be consolate. Surprisingly, her words weren't soothing. "Aww.... Aw, c'mon, Sesh! Cheer up! She didn't succeed in killing any of us, did she?"

    "Meilin, shut. Up. You're not helping." I sighed, thunking my spoon in the bowl with a clatter. "Look, this is serious. Five powerful beings are out to kill us for sport, and even revenge. They care nothing for our lives, nor whether our deaths are publicised. Don't you think that I'm a little upset right now?!" I realised that she hadn't heard a word I had just said, she and the others frozen. I laughed nervously, unfreezing them, then sighing again in worry, returning to poking at my now soggy miniwheats.

    "Erm, what just happened...?" Max uttered, looking at the five of us in confusion.

    "Mousy got a little... upset," Kit explained. "He kinda froze time." I laughed half-heartedly again, blushing.

    "H—he what?!"

    "Legendary Pokémon are terrible to have to deal with," Nat complained. "I would know." She looked at her gloved hands in disgust. "I wish I would've chosen the blue one instead, you know? Dragonair is so beautiful and agile, and—"

    "Nat, you're not getting anywhere by complaining about it," Sean muttered. "None of us knew what each necklace did. It was your choice to even join the Roses, wasn't it?"

    At this she fell silent a moment. "I suppose you've got it a little worse than I do, but still. I had beautiful brown hair, and the most wonderful complexion...."

    "Geez." The four of us sweatdropped when the girl fell into a daze.

    ~*~*~

    "Kit, you're nuts. No way are we going to go out in public!" I muttered, tail wrapped around the arm of the chair, trying to keep it from swishing angrily.

    "But—"

    "Remember what happened last time?!"

    Nat smacked me. "Quit yelling! You're going to make Max's customers wonder...."

    "Sorry." I sighed. "Kit, why in the world would you want to go out? I mean, we came up against Giovanni last time, and we didn't even do anything!"

    "He said that he's on our side," she reminded. "I think he was telling the truth."

    "Whatever Kit. If you want to go, the four of you can. I'm staying here. Maybe Max needs some help."

    "You're a Scaredy Raichu, Sesh," she grumbled, the four of them regaining their façades as they drudged down the stairs and leaving me alone with myself. I sighed, letting it resonate through the empty room.

    ~*~*~

    I heard low, creaking footsteps across the floor and came to attention, sitting up and looking around warily.

    "Leo?" I whispered, curious and yet fearful. I heard them snort, then snuffle the air a little. I whimpered, staticking a little in fright.

    The intruder coursed in electricity as well.

    "Show yourself!" I hissed, fur on end as I grabbed for my war-prize, the Ineria.

    A woman stood prostrate before me in a fighting stance, grinning evilly a fang-filled, crooked grin. Her black hair was long and shining. Her scaly pale green skin was covered in strange black markings that seemed mystical in a way, and she wore a white linen tunic tied loosely with deep crimson cords about her muscular yet effiminate form. Her bare feet were adorned with the same cords the colour of blood, a collar of the same material around her neck as if she were some sort of pet, or even a watchdog.

    "Prey," she greeted maliciously, falling down to all fours, a long, reptilian tail snaking out from beneath her and her ears tapering out—as the usual person I knew posessed—as her form rippled ever larger, seeming more beast than woman through the transformation. It was then that she pounced on her 'prey'—me.

    ~*~*~

    I exclaimed in surprise and terror, then finding myself to not only be pinned down by the Yami's guard dog, but in the middle of the street.

    "I—GET OFF ME!!" I complained, scared out of my mind, staring up into the creature's animalistic face with glowing icy eyes and long sharp fangs. I screamed when she snapped at me, and she chuckled at my absolute fear of her.

    "Seshi!" Kit uttered from the sidewalk, staring into the street as a crowd soon began to gather at that point. She tried to run out to my aid, only to run into an invisible wall between us. My eyes went wide in exasperation.

    I looked up to the creature in hatred and fear, then spat, "If you're going to kill me, then isn't it proper for me to know my murderer's name? You've said but one word to me, you bloody—" I shut up, the Yami having placed claws by the temple of my forehead, and began to worry.

    "My dear little Raichu, if you wanted to be friends, you could've just said so," she whispered in my ear. "I'm Annra." I screamed when she snapped at me quickly and playfully; I no longer had the curl on my left ear.

    "Wh—what do you want from me?!" I demanded, trying not to show tears at the pain.

    "Oh, you know I want you dead," she cooed, running her claws down my face from my temple, stopping to rest roughly underneath my chin. When she looked into my eyes, I electrocuted her.

    Annra landed a good ten feet away, giving me time enough to stand again, but I felt stronger on all fours for some reason. The both of us began to growl at one another, circling each other, glaring at each other.

    "So you want to play it that way," she grinned, vehemence in her words and her very voice. The beast began to crackle and she shocked me. I screamed out in agony, unable to take the full blast of the jolt. She shocked me again and I fell to my knees, again, to the cement. Annra soon began to cackle. "Well then, I suppose your batteries aren't rechargeable."

    ~*~*~

    "Y—you love the I—Irony a—of it... d—d—don't... you?" I choked out, staring at her.

    "Burning you alive by your own element...." She turned it over in her mind for a moment. "Indeed I do," she grinned, jolting me again.

    "No!" Kit uttered, hands up against the barrier Annra had created so that the others couldn't interfere. Tears came to her eyes and she began pounding on the force field fiercely. Annra shocked me again and I stopped twitching. I could hear her crying in anguish.

    Kit... I'm... not dead, I whispered to her. I—I just can't move....

    I continued to stare up into Annra's face, a glare of hatred in my eyes. She electrocuted me one last time before my entire world went black.

    ~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~



    Chapter Twenty-Seven

    I opened my eyes to find myself looking around in absolute awe. I choked when I saw my unmoving body in the street, burned to a crisp.

    H—how is this even possible?! I uttered to myself in fear, able to feel my material body, but.... Then I realised that I was dead and froze up completely, unable to do a thing as Kit lay there against the barrier, crying softly.

    "Ah, my work is done," Annra plauded to herself, licking her lips hungrily.

    I at once became enraged and rushed upon her, suddenly finding myself out of breath. I felt another body distantly, and yet... it wasn't mine. I looked to my hands to find them long, sharp, effiminate-seeming claws, and grew wide-eyed. I had possessed Annra.

    I stared at Annra's hands for several minutes before I actually saw an advantage to it, and grabbed the daggers at her waist. Hesitantly but vehemently, I thrust them into her stomach, able to feel the pain she felt as I loosened my grasps of control of her body. I soon slipped from her form, watching in hate-filled contentment as she realised what I had made her do. Her face twitched in horror when she doubled over in agony, collapsing to the street as she lost her strength. Annra quickly fell hard to the cement, losing her animalistic being. Her respiration soon ceased.

    I hovered over my body for a few moments in mental pains before I saw that Annra's force field fell and Kit stumbled back in surprise. Not long after she came running to me. At that point, I felt it right to at least try to come back.

    I shot up from the cement, coughing as I tried to breathe. Kit held me tight, not just to keep me propped up, but also glad that I was still there. I hugged back when I could.

    "I—I—I was... gone for a minute there. Annra didn't kill herself... I did."

    Kit stared at me. "You're not serious...." My unfazing gaze made her incredulity vanish. "Sesh, you have got to stop getting yourself into these things."

    "It wasn't me! She attacked me, not the other way around!!" I began coughing violently again, unable to breathe. My lungs were too badly burned to be able to complain, let alone speak.

    "Let's get you upstairs," she soothed, holding me tight as she teleported us to the apartment.

    ~*~*~

    T.K. came over to stand above me as I laid on the couch, holding his hands over me. He closed his eyes in concentration, quiet as I began to feel numb all over. I soon felt the burns begin to heal themselves, and I began to be able to breathe again.

    "Thanks, Tacky," I sighed, lying back and staring up at the ceiling. He mumbled something in response, the three of them leaving the two of us alone.

    "You gonna be okay?" Kit began, caressing my forearm.

    "Yeah, I suppose." I sighed.

    "What was it like?" she inquired quietly, sitting on the couch right in front of me.

    "What?"

    "What you went through."

    "I—why?" I flustered.

    "I—I dunno, it's just... it hurt me when I saw you getting hurt. You need to stop getting them after you."

    "Kit, you think it's my fault Annra decided to come after me? I mean—"

    She put a finger to my mouth. "It's okay, Sesh. I understand. You just need to stop aggravating them. You've become... an assassin practically overnight, and just because one of them hurt Jarrell."

    "I—It's not because they hurt Jarrell. It's because they decided to use you to do it." Kit grew wide-eyed at my saying this. "I'm serious. Xyra was hurting you, and I couldn't stand it." I sighed. "They've all done something to us. They stripped us from our families, they made us outcasts under their volition not ours, and now they want to hunt us for sport." I know I started staticking, but all that came was light crackling and I sighed, calming down.

    "You've got to be exhausted," she consoled, kissing my hand and laying it back by my side. "Get some rest, and maybe find a nice electrical outlet?" She smiled a little.

    "You're a dork, Kit," I smiled back, trying to hide the fact I was actually thinking about it.

    ~*~*~

    I took a short nap, then snuck out down to the city park, eagerly eyeing what lay behind the chain-link fence. Jumping over the barbed-wire-fringed barrier in a single, graceful leap, I found myself looking straight at a series of primer grey metal boxes.

    I walked around the rows of boxes, which were about a foot taller than I was, to find the main one in the back. Once I opened this one, I placed my hands on the inside of the power station's switchbox, grinning as I ran my fingers over the wiring. Then I grabbed them in absolute delight, the surge of electricity like nothing else.

    I soon felt the pull lessen due to my taking in so much electricity and, by expulsing some of my own, I forced my hands to let go, breathing heavily in contentment as I leaned up against the fence.

    "I don't know why I never thought of doing that before..." I sighed in awe, staticking.

    ~*~*~

    I walked along the sidewalks downtown for a while before coming back to Max's. I smirked as I came upstairs, the four of them looking at me strangely.

    "Thunderbutt," Kit muttered. "You *do* know that the entire city just had a brownout because of you...."

    "Eh." I shrugged, plopping down on the couch again. "I just needed to recharge my batteries."

    ~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~



    Chapter Twenty-Eight

    The five of us were helping out Max around the shop sometime the week after the incident with Annra, stocking up various things and helping customers. We felt a little obligated to offer something in return for the place to stay.

    "Hey Tosh, c'mere," Max called from the back room.

    I followed. "Yeah?"

    "I think that Sarah forgot to give you this," he began, offering up a small black satchel, about the size of an average Pokédex, just thicker, and not rectangular. I carefully emptied its contents into my hand to find a small, roughly-cleaved chunk of mineral rock, a wonderfully clear orangey yellow. He smiled at my awesticken gaze. "She was talking about how you guys came in, and it popped up."

    "Thanks, Max." I paused. "She said that it was 2200 pieces?"

    "You can just have the Sun Stone," he replied. "You need it more than I do."

    I smiled. "You're the best."

    ~*~*~

    Upstairs, just before dinner, I let Utsukushii out of her Pokéball. The plant-type Pokémon stood at about my waist, the vermilion bud atop her head the majourity of her height.

    "Gloom!" she greeted, happy to be out for a stretch.

    'Hey gal,' I returned, kneeling down to her level. 'Guess what Mouse boy's got for ya?'

    She looked at me a moment, confused to see me. 'Toshi...?'

    'Heh. I can look human if I want to now.' I held the Sun Stone out for Utsukushii.

    She looked at it a minute in thought before saying anything. 'You finally found one,' she uttered. 'Well, then.'

    'You told me that you wanted to evolve when I found the stone,' I reminded quietly, trying my best to make it her decision, not mine. 'You know you don't have to.'

    'I want to... I've just been a Gloom for so long that I've grown fond of it. I suppose I could....' Utsu held her small hand out over the Sun Stone and it glowed; she took in a quick breath, backing away a little. The bud atop her head began to open. 'I—I'm just afraid of the change, that's all....'

    'Utsu, you don't have to be afraid of it,' I soothed. 'You were born an Oddish, right?' She nodded. 'Then you've been through an evolution before. I know you want this; don't let unnecessary fear stand in the way of your desires.' I smiled. 'You know... I think you'd make a beautiful Bellossom.'

    At this, she smiled as well. 'All right. Just for you.'

    She placed her hand slowly upon the tangerine stone, her form washing over in a sort of yellowed light. She soon stood at my waist, her bud excluded; then the bud became two, and both ever-so-slowly opened up.

    Petal-like leaves formed a skirtlike wreath about her waist, and she smiled up at me, the glow fading. Her complexion was now lime-green, and she wore the most wonderful shade of blush in her face, her happiness clear. Her pewter eyes glistened with delight.

    'Thank you, Toshi,' she grinned, hugging my leg.

    I took hold of her shoulders and looked her in the eyes. 'I was right, y'know? You are a beautiful Bellossom.' With this remark she hugged me again, giggling with glee.

    "Sentimental moment, I suppose?" Kit grinned, leaning in the doorway as she looked at Utsu.

    I grumbled. "Kit, Max gave me that Sun Stone and I let Utsukushii have it." I looked to the Bellossom. "Tell ya what, Utsu. I'll make a nice necklace out of the thing for you, kay?" She smiled.

    "Y'know, you're a good trainer yourself, Sesh," she remarked, sitting on the arm of the couch.

    I blushed. "I'm not a trainer;" I corrected, "I'm a Breeder."

    "There's a difference?" She snorted. "Mousy, a trainer is someone who trains his Pokémon with the Pokémon in mind. You aid yours in the development of their abilities, and you do what's best for them. I think that trainers are merely a specialised kind of Breeder, one that fights and trains more than he analyses and bonds with his Pokémon. Now I'm not saying that trainers don't bond with their partners, just that Watchers and Breeders do so on a different level."

    I blushed. "I—"

    "You guys, come down here and help us!" Nat complained from downstairs.

    I flustered a moment, Kit returning to her work in the shop, and I followed her once I'd returned Utsukushii to her Pokéball.

    ~*~*~*~*~*~

    ::Philo::

    I sighed, sitting back on my bed with a paired Tolkien novella: Smith of Wootton Majour & Farmer Giles of Ham. I let out Gem and Peridot to flutter about my room. The two psychic-type birds were twins, Gem female and Peridot male. From their names one could probably tell that they were of the green-feathered variety. Natu are my favourite Pokémon, I should believe. They're just so beautiful, and they have quite strong a psychic mind if trained well.

    I got absorbed in my book for a little while, then set it down once I finished the first novella to take a short walk. I Faint Attacked outside and strolled through the woods.

    It had been a little cold that night. But I like a nice chill, so I continued on, the light breeze smelling of night-blooming flowers.

    I heard a rustling from above me and I stopped, looking up. I freaked a little when nothing was there, then remembered that it was a little windy.

    "Philo, calm down," I whispered to myself, looking around, a tad bit paranoid now. "It was just the wind. No one's after you."

    I sighed after a minute, then strolled on.

    Not soon after I exclaimed in fright, a woman in all dark green jumping down directly before me. Her long braided hair was a fiery orange in great contrast to her attire; she wore formal-length gloves which came down over the backs of her hands and looped over her middle finger, but not the rest of her hand, and also a flowing dresslike garment, complemented with a long black cloak.

    She stood again, looking me straight in the eyes, piercing my rational thoughts.

    She smirked evily as she brought a whip out from the drakness of her cape. "Now it is time for Brynne to have her chance to hunt."

    ~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~



    Chapter Twenty-Nine

    Brynne threw off the cloak, then cracked her whip at me. I yelped, jumping back from the leather's strike.

    "Jumpy, are we? Well then, let's get to know one another," she grinned, whipping out at me again, this time entangling my legs, tripping me. I fell in the dirt face-first.

    I growled, digging my claws into the loose earth, concentrating hard upon my strand. Soon the ground began to shake and Brynne lost her balance, letting loose of her whip. I ceased the tremours and wrenched the hide vine from around my ankles and stood again, lips quivering over my bared teeth.

    "Brynne, you need to learn that you can't just do whatever you please," I spat, glare narrowed at her.

    I choked up when she chuckled. "My dear, dear Christian. How delusioned you are! I am a Yami; I am the Vestal Virgin to the people of Gaea, the sacrosanct being that will do whatever she so pleases." She swiped her hand at me as if she were trying to backhand me, though she was about ten yards away from me. I exclaimed in surprise and pain when I felt her telekinetic strike beat me to the ground. This time I didn't get up.

    ~*~*~

    When I looked up to see where I was and how long it had been since I blacked out, I saw that I was in a clearing, by the rocky face of a hill. The brush was gnarled and nasty-looking, ominous shadows wrought upon the pale earth through the moonlight which passed through the branches of the knotted trees.

    I shuddered, the cold starting to get to me.

    Then I began to feel the sting of wounded flesh, Brynne having whipped me while I was out. The razings were deep and rough, and I lay on my side to keep from getting any dirt in the wounds, though I knew that I'd have to fight Brynne, and that trying to keep them clean was undeniably futile.

    "Now then, boy. You're up for the next stage of my reign as Vestal Huntress," Brynne grinned, her whip again coiled up at her waist. I dug my claws into the ground again, but this time another feeling washed over me. It was... almost painful, but somehow it felt natural. I heard my shirt rip and I let out a short scream of both pain and surprise. Brynne screamed as well.

    I slowly turned to look to find the Yami pinned to a few trees by ragged tan spikes. My spikes.

    I freaked a little, knowing that they had come from me, slowly placing a hand atop my head, jerking it away to find it pricked and bleeding slightly. "Philo the human porcupine," I uttered.

    "My little darling, you're definitely going to pay for that little trick." Brynne used her Telekinesis to pluck the spines from her clothing, then stood again, brushing herself off. She looked to me and I backed off a little, seeing the fire in her eyes. The Yami threw me against the face of the hill with enough Telekinetic force that I felt several ribs crack on impact and screamed out in agony. "Let us play Pin the Umbreon to the Wall."

    Brynne picked up my spines with her Kinesis and threw them at me like darts. A few missed me, driving themselves into the side of the hill. I cried out in throes as one ran my left hand through, pinning it to the cold hard surface of the rock, then my right. Then she let one graze my forehead and began to sob in anguish, letting myself fall down to be held up only by my hands.

    "I—I never wanted any of this," I choked out, head hung. "I—I just wanted a—a—a normal life...." I looked to the woman who stood before me. "Wh—why...?"

    "Why, you ask?" She chuckled. "We do whatever we please, and we get whetever we want, boy. And we wanted toys." The crack of the whip resounded all around me for what seemed hours, and I soon could no longer feel its burn, no longer care. All I wanted was down.... Down from there.

    ~*~*~

    Anger slowly began to well up inside me, replacing the pains with enfuriation. I felt the rock begin to shake, then seeing that the entire place was as well. Brynne had taken to a tree in order to keep her balance. It didn't help much.

    I furrowed my brow in hard concentration, glaring at the Yami as the tremours continued to worsen, spikes soon shooting up from the soft earth. A few came up by her, and she scrambled back, falling out of the tree onto the ground. Brynne let out a blood-curdling scream as another came up through her back, up through her rib cage. The quakes ceased and I stared at the woman fall into a fit of convulsions, staring up into the black night. Her face soon became pallid and showed that she was dead.

    I sighed in both relief and exhaustion, then let my head fall to look at the ground below.

    ~*~*~

    I must've hung there for hours in absolute agony, unable to get free of my spines. The others rushed up at that point, looking at me as I hyperventilated in a cold, pained sweat. My gaze met Sakura's, my hair clinging to my face with sweat and blood, and she melted, unable to control the emotions that came with knowing how much pain I had to be in.

    "Philo, hold still," Trey began, floating up to my level, examining carefully my hands.

    He grew wide-eyed after a moment, seeing that spikes had pinned me to the hill face. He put a few fingers to the blunt tip of the spike in my left hand, and it froze almost at once; I began to choke on how cold it was.

    "Hold on just a sec," he continued, and he tapped it lightly. It shattered like glass, tinkling down the rock surface and falling to the ground below.

    I immediately slumped down to my left side, not having the strength to support myself. I cried out in throes, hanging there by just one hand. Trey caught me and I levitated there almost, no longer hurting because of stress on the hand, only the wounds the spikes had caused.

    He quickly gave the other spike the same treatment as the other, and I fell to the ground, exhausted. The others soon rushed up all around me, worried and confused. When I looked up to where Brynne lie on the spines of earth, they turned to look and understood as I collapsed, blacking out.

    ~*~*~

    When I awoke, I was in my room back at Heritage. My hands and shoulder were bandaged, my other wounds on my arms and chest treated. I sighed, laying back on my bed, and went back to sleep.

    ~*~*~*~*~*~

    ::Scyrus::

    I collapsed to my knees in agony, my remaining siblings encircling me, enfuriated.

    "Young brother, we thought it had been your job to keep the Ecruteak Fifteen from escaping Jarrell's grasps," Randall hissed, backhanding me with his telekinesis. I looked up to my eldest brother, blood trickling down the right side of my face, tears in my eyes. "We've lost Xyra, Annra, and now Brynne, all due to your incompetence."

    "I—"

    "You have nothing to say," Angelus growled, readying his katana as he glared at me like Darean and Randall. "You have no right to defend yourself after all we've lost because of you, young brother."

    "I—It wasn't... me..." I choked out.

    A silence passed.

    "What do you mean that it wasn't your fault this happened? It's both yours, your mistress', and Jarrell's! And we seek vengeance upon your head because the Roses guard Jarrell now, and Sarina is out of our jurisdiction."

    "I—I've lost to them as well," I reminded.

    "You didn't lose your life to them," Darean retorted. "But, sure as my words, if you so much as cross us once more, we shall offer your head upon a silver platter to Father."

    I ceased my sniveling at the mention of Father, a shiver running down my spine. "I shan't betray you again."

    ~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~



    Chapter Thirty

    ::Philo::

    I buttoned my shirt as I walked into the kitchen the next morning, hoping that perhaps a little creative breakfast might cheer my dampered mood.

    My hands were still sore, and I had quite a deal of trouble breathing, but I got along fine with the scrambled eggs, and later some fried rice from that. I stuffed a morsel of it in my mouth after having dumped the bowl into a serving dish, munching on it as I prepared the rest of the dim sum† dishes.

    One by one the others meandered in at the aromas of my cooking, and I grinned as I served breakfast and sat down among friends.

    "Philo, what's with the oriental style this morning?" Sakura inquired, poking at a gyoza‡.

    "I felt like something complicated this morning," I replied, smiling a little, then my head dropped back to poking at my fried rice.

    ~*~*~

    "Are you all right?" Kuri began, walking into my room. I sat at the window on the floor, looking down over the afternoon Pewter City.

    I sighed, then patted the ragged carpet beside me. "Sakura, c'mere." She sat down by me and I held my hand out where she could see it as I slowly and carefully unwrapped it. She choked, eyes wide in apprehension when she did.

    "B—But—"

    "No, I'm not all right," I muttered dejectedly, staring through the wound that had pierced my hand. I sighed again, then rewrapped my hand. Sakura hugged me.

    "Philo, I am so sorry that this had to happen to you," she whispered, upset and quivering on the brink of tears. "If it had been up to me, I would've gladly let her—"

    "No." I pulled away to look her in the face. "I don't know what I'd do if that had happened to you." A silence passed and I smiled a little after a minute. "One good thing became of the incident, you know...."

    She looked at me a little strangely. ".... What might that be?"

    I smirked, and flicked my hand at the wall, a spray of spines treating the drywall like a pincushion. She stared at the makeshift darts for several minutes before saying anything.

    "Philo, you truly are an artist at heart," she smiled, glomping me. I giggled, hugging back and looking at the heart shape I'd made on the wall.

    ~*~*~

    "We'll be back in a little bit, Jarrell," Leo remarked as the six of us walked out the door, regaining our borrowed forms. Sarah snapped and we were in Sunnytown in an instant.

    We walked into Max's shop.

    "All right, you guys, we need to talk," Sakura ground, stomping up the stairs in a sure fit.

    "Sakura, calm down. It's all right," I soothed, trying to hold her back. She shirked my grasp on her arm and continued upstairs.

    The six who'd stayed in Sunny all sweatdropped, seeing the girl was clearly angry at them.

    "One of the Yamis attacked Philo last night."

    I sighed in annoyance and pain. "It's not a big deal. I'll be fine," I complained.

    "It IS a big deal! They practically crucified you!!"

    The six stared at me and I sweatdropped, blinking in embarrassment and apprehension.

    "I—I—"

    "Dear God are they evil," Nat uttered, gazing at my bandaged hands in awe, disgust, and fear, and I stuck them in my pockets.

    "I give. I refuse to fight them any longer. The stakes are too high, and I don't feel lucky."

    "Sakura..." I whined.

    "I'm with Kuri on this one," Mattie sided, a little dejectedly. "I mean, who's to say it won't be me next?"

    "Are you guys nuts?!" Seshi exclaimed. "If you give up like this, they'll just come kill you right on the spot!!"

    "Why would they?" Trey muttered. "There's no spice in game that comes readily."

    "I agree," Sarah remarked quietly, hugging onto Leo. "I'm fearful for my very existence. I mean, I became a part of this group because I wanted to be with Leo, and I don't quite think that the 'hunt or be hunted' was part of the contract...." The Houndoom kissed her forehead gently, consoling the girl that was on the brink of tears.

    "The fear factour's too high for me," I uttered, staring at the floor. "Sesh, you've been attacked, what, three times now? Just because I've been hit once doesn't mean they won't hit me again."

    "Y—" Sesh silenced Kit.

    "You guys really want to go separate ways, then so be it. Just don't blame us if you get the Yamis on your tails."

    With that, we took our leave and returned to Heritage, where we belonged.

    ~*~*~

    † dim sum is a kind of oriental meal, where each serving is in a small steamer, and you decide as to which dishes you get. the variety can be broad or narrow, depending on the cook. of course, Philo had a little bit of fun with his dim sum preparation, and there was a nice selection, which included the usual two or three different fish, steamed and fried rice, various noodles, and sliced vegetables


    ‡ gyoza are Japanese eggrolls, and are prepared in a fashion much like a boiled wanton dumpling

    ~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~



    Chapter Thirty-One

    ::Kit::

    It had been roughly two weeks since the last of the malicious Yamis had shown themselves. The both of them, Randall and Angelus, had come at us all at once, and the battle had been fierce. We prevailed just barely, through a mix of defence and swordsplay, and we soon were freed of the curse of our creatours.

    Scyrus, the Yami who had shown himself to be Ryan Giovanni, had become one of our closest allies in our remaining hidden from the world, giving us all sorts of aid from his many labouratories and such.

    Sean had become despondent and left the group, leaving the five of us—Sesh, Nat, Tane, Ditz and me—as the only remaining who retained the name of the Roses.

    And even then, we weren't really much of anything any longer.

    ~*~*~

    We'd long since moved on from Sunny and were again travelling. This time we were on our way to Olivine.

    "Does it ever dawn on you that we've literally dropped off the face of the earth?" Ditz began, melancholy. We were on a bus from Mahogany. "I mean, first we vanish from our hometown out of nowhere, then we become known as some creatures that should be feared despite the fact that we in truth were the ones hunted. Now that we're no longer the prey, no one willl be paying any attention to us."

    "Ah geez," Sesh muttered. "Tacky, knock it off. Who cares if no one pays any attention to us?"

    "I suppose you're right. Just... thinking about it made me a little upset. I liked being the centre of attention for once."

    "Makes ya feel any better, you'll always be important to us," I grinned, poking him in the cheek from behind the seat. He smiled a little.

    "You guys are the best."

    ~*~*~

    "I really wish that we hadn't decided to take this bus," I complained, seeing that we were nearing the bus stop in Ecruteak.

    "Wasn't it you who thought it best that we only use our abilities when we had to?" Sesh muttered, annoyed.

    "Eh hehe...."

    ~*~*~

    I sighed, depressed as we got off on Main Street.

    "Guys, why don't we meet at Gavrelli's around two for lunch?"

    With that, we scattered.

    I got to walking along downtown for a while before actually moving out of the busy streets and into the more populated areas.

    I looked up to the now darkened, foreboding house with a saddened gaze. "Why me?" I uttered as I teleported up atop the first-story roof of the two-story home.

    I looked into the back room of the second story, curious, to find my room was still exactly as it had been. Then, I moved on to the front room.

    "Jackie...?" I whispered, looking in the window. To my surprise, she'd heard me and the two of us stared at each other for a good minute before either of us actually did anything.

    The nine-year-old brunette's jaw dropped, eyes wide as she began taking cautious steps away from me. I grew exceedingly nervous at this and soon felt myself involuntarily shed my borrowed form. My little sister screamed at this sight, and I melted in fright and sorrow.

    "Jackie, what's the matter?" a woman asked, having come at hearing the child's fear.

    I choked up completely, slowly reforming so that I could see.

    The woman was blonde, about thirty-five, with the fairest skin and the gentlest hazel eyes. She held Jackie tight, stroking her hair gently to calm the youth.

    I grew wide-eyed at seeing this woman after over a year, and my mouth became severely dry. "Mom...?" I choked out, just barely making any sound whatsoever. Just before she turned to look at me, I melted again, this time reforming on the second-story roof to calm myself down.

    "What possessed you to go back?" I badgered, teleporting back down on the streets, having regained my disguise. "You knew there was no way they'd accept who you've become!" A tear fell down my shirt as I walked on at a hurried pace.

    ~*~*~

    I slumped down at the round table in the back corner of Gavrelli's, ordering a Pepsi as I waited for the others. They came in about ten or fifteen minutes later.

    "Kit, what'd you do?" Sesh began, upset.

    "What?"

    "All the little kids on Midori are talking about a Vaporeon lady."

    "I—" I made a face. "It's a bad thing to have gone to see how my little sis is doing?"

    "They're talking like you're some evil creature, you dork," Ditz muttered, sitting to my left. Sesh sat to my right, and Nat and Tane sort of filled in on each side.

    "She's not?" Nat mused. I smacked her with my Kinesis and she groaned, rubbing her head.

    "I don't think we should stay in town much longer," Tane worried. "You never know what people will start to think...."

    "Let's at least eat lunch first," Ditz complained. "I'm hungry, and besides, what could come of just being here for another hour of so?"

    ~*~*~

    The five of us were fairly silent as we sat and ate.

    "So are we still on our way to Olivine?" I began, trying to spark some conversation.

    "Iunno why we wouldn't. I mean, there's no reason for us to stay here."

    "I suppose we could go back to Lavender," Nat contemplated. "I for one want to have a good heartfelt chat with Sarina."

    We all heard someone choke on his sandwich at the next booth and turned to look.

    "D—did you say you wanted to talk to Sarina?!" he uttered, staring at us with a certain bewildered fire in his emerald eyes.

    "Er, yeah.... What's wrong with talking to her?"

    "Sh—she never tells anyone that's her real name anymore!" The blue-haired teen came to sit with us. "Just exactly who are you to know my sister?"

    ~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~



    Chapter Thirty-Two

    "Sister...?" we uttered.

    "I'm sorry," he apologised. "I'm James Kizuki." He didn't hesitate but for a mere moment before inquiring again, "But really. Who are you to know my sister?"

    "Um, she... told us?" I began, breaking a crooked smile. "I went to battle her and she gave us necklaces...." I looked at him a little funny. "You do know about her necklaces, right?"

    "She gave humans splicing necklaces. Joy."

    "Hey! I take that to offence, buddy!" Nat complained.

    "Nat, don't upset the guy..." Sesh complained a little sing-songily. "From that statement... y—you're not human, I presume? And never were...?"

    James stared at Sesh. "Oh dear." He sighed in annoyance. "I've had to deal with so many tenshi these past few months that I've gotten used to people knowing about us."

    I looked at him with squinted eyes, trying to understand. "Tenshi?" I echoed.

    "I'll let you finish your lunches first. I have a feeling we need to have that nice heartfelt chat with sister, the six of us."

    ~*~*~

    We got to walking along outside for a moment, then James pulled us into the alley behind Gavrelli's. Putting a finger to his mouth as a sign to be quiet, he teleported us to Lavender City Gym.

    We all looked at him funny.

    Taking his advice to be silent, I inquired, Why be quiet? You didn't think that we'd scream, did you?

    He stared at me. "Y—telepathy...?"

    I pulled my necklace out from under my shirt. "Espeon," I grinned. He rolled his eyes in disgust as we walked down the halls of the gym.

    James poked his head around the corner of one room, and motioned for the rest of us to go in.

    The room was quite large, the walls paneled with Trovita pine; the left wall from the door was lined with books, the one to the right with necklaces. Four picture windows lined the wall that faced the door, arched at the top and paned with brass.

    Sarina stood from a large black Tauros-leather chair at seeing us, confused at seeing our faces.

    "Who are you, and how did you get back into these quarters?"

    "Um, hi..." I greeted. "Nice to see you too, Sarina." We shed our guises and she stared at us. "We've gotten that a lot today."

    "H—how'd you all do that? I only put one strand in each necklace...."

    "We traded a little," I smirked.

    "Yeah, you're still poking at me that you were actually right about that..." Sesh grumbled.

    James stood there in the door, stammering in disbelief, face twitching violently. "W—w—what...?"

    "Jamie?" Sarina began, a little bewildered herself. "I haven't seen you in ages."

    "I—who are these kids?"

    "Kids?" Tane echoed, a little agitated by his choice of words. "You're look like you're as old as me!"

    He blinked, staring at her. "I—" He laughed at this.

    Sarina sighed, hanging her head in thought. Her skin soon grew to be a smooth, scaly blue, mottled with a darker hue of the shade, and her ears tapered to seem elven. She then looked to us with catlike carmine eyes, a slight smile upon her face that showed her teeth were slight fangs. "Ianna, my dear, looks can be deceiving when it comes to true being."

    ~*~*~

    We all stared at her, then looked to James to find that he, too, now donned the same basic look. We fell into defencive stances, worried and confused at the same time.

    "Y—you led us to believe that you were on our side," I hissed, upset.

    Sarina sweatdropped. "I—" It hit her. "You think I'm a Yami...." She chuckled. "Oh my no, though tenshi aren't far from them nowadays."

    We slowly dropped our guards, and came to sit with her on the couch, Sarina sitting in her chair and James on the windowsill nearby.

    "Will you please explain who these kids are, Sarina?" James complained.

    "They're the Ecruteak Fifteen," she replied, a little annoyed. "Little brother, you never knew about that, and yet you've been here on Gaea for what, around a hundred years now?"

    "I've been travelling for about five years now," he muttered. "I just got back from visiting Novena in Tokyo."

    "H—hundred...?" Ditz uttered.

    "Tenshi are an alien race, Keiji," she explained. "We live about nine times longer than the average human."

    "Then why are you here on Gaea?" I began.

    "It's a beautiful place, and I wished to come someplace that had a little less conflict than my home world." Sarina sighed. "I... I don't want to talk about it."

    "It upsets her to talk about Hanehasu," James remarked quietly, almost feeling responsible, it seemed. "The home world is in civil war because of genning."

    "Genetic splicing, Jamie," Sarina corrected, cross at the usage of slang for the term.

    "So you came here to practice genetics?" Tane asked. "Do you think humanity will absorb splicing any differently than has your race?"

    "I don't. I just feel that your people won't use it in the same ways. Perhaps here it won't destroy the world."

    "Sarina, it hasn't destroyed Han—"

    She cut him off. "It has! You no longer can walk the streets without getting attacked by a Genotenshi, and you see Kurai and Shiro more and more often!"

    He seemed to grow nervous at mention of these races of tenshi. "I—sister, calm down. It's all right."

    "It's all my fault, I know it," she muttered dejectedly. "It hadn't been as bad as it is now. It became far worse when I began the practice."

    "Oh sister," James began, consoling her. It was my fault, he whispered telepathically.

    ~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~



    Chapter Thirty-Three

    We were soon on our way again, this time finding ourselves in New Bark Town.

    It was quite a quaint little town, not too large, not too small, and it had a feeling of homliness to it.

    The five of us settled into the town by dinner, and sat down to Chinese take-out in a motel room in silence.

    "Y'know, it would've been better had Philo cooked it," Ditz mumbled, munching on his chow mein noodles.

    "Ditz..." Sesh complained.

    "What? It's true, issun it?"

    "That's not the point...."

    "Then what is?"

    "Dork," I muttered.

    "Whatever," he grumbled, again becoming absorbed in his dinner.

    A silence passed.

    "You guys, come on! Snap out of it! It's not like they're dead."

    "We don't know that they aren't," Nat uttered, dropping a piece of chicken in her sweet-and-sour sauce at thinking about it. She grumbled about it when she saw she had and fished it out with her chopsticks.

    Ditz groaned in exasperation. "They're fine! They just diddun want to fight. And do you blame them? I diddun want to fight either."

    "Then why'd you stay?" I asked.

    "I wanted to be with you guys. You have no idea how lonely it was being on my own."

    "But you could've gone with the others, Tacky," Sesh began.

    "It's not the same without you two," he sighed, talking about his brother and me. "It's like something's missing, out of place... when I'm not with you guys. You're my only remaining family, and Toshi, you're my only true family since the Enhancement. I wouldun go anywhere without either you or Mom before the Enhancement, y'know? I... I only feel warm, only feel safe, when I'm with my family and friends."

    At this we were all silent.

    "It... it's why it hurt me so when we split up. It was like my family had divorced itself. Like... when Mom and Dad did..."

    Sesh put his rice down and hugged his little brother. "Aw Tacky...." He sighed. "You know very well that they still love us. We still got letters from Dad, right? And we still saw him for Christmas?"

    Ditz nodded solemnly. "I'm not upset because I dun think he loves me anymore, Toshi. I know he loves us both. It just... it felt like he abandoned us when he left...."

    "I know."

    "I had no idea you guys had such a hard life, even before the Enhancement," I remarked, in awe at how sentimental Sesh could be.

    "You didn't know us very well before then," Sesh replied, a little cross. He sighed, melancholy, freezing outside with his dinner.

    "Geez he's touchy."

    "Kit, he just gets upset when the subject of Dad comes up." Ditz sighed. "He hates him, simply and completely."

    ~*~*~*~*~*~

    ::Tane::

    I was running, running away.... From who or what I had no recollection. But I was afraid, so afraid that I didn't stop running despite my growing pain in breathing.

    I heard my persuer chuckle evilly, but didn't turn to look, and instead yelped and teleported away.

    I tried to catch my breath, leaning up against a cold marble wall in the massive building. I felt a strange ridge in the wall and turned to see.

    The surface was lined with ancient-seeming, gold-filled fine etchings, covered in tiny gemstones that glittered vibrantly in great contrast to my otherwise gray perspective. I ran my fingers over these markings in awe and wonder, but jumped back when they began to glow as if filled with light. The centre of the design which the pattern made began to glow brighter than the rest, then seemed chillingly black, and I screamed in agony as I was sucked into the wall.


    ~*~*~

    I shot up in bed, drenched in cold sweat, breathing heavily. I got my bearings straight again, and sighed, lying back on the pillows.

    Damn these visions, I whispered angrily, staring up at the ceiling. I could still see the wall's designs, still see its gemstones glittering, deceitfully cheerful.

    "Ianna, whassa matter?" Tak inquired quietly, having heard my psychic curse.

    Nothing. I'll be fine.

    "You had another dream, didn't you?"

    I sighed, silent, eyes set on my bed sheets. Yeah.

    "Was this one about the darkness too?"

    It seems that's all I can see, I muttered dejectedly, staring outside at the sliver of a moon, the star-dotted sky. Do you ever have any real trouble with the abilities you got from your necklace?

    "The only problems I've had are when I make you guys mad at me." He laughed lightly a moment, then sighed. "I definitely dun like the fact that I can clone myself involuntarily. It bothers me thinking about if someone with my face were out there, doing the things I do, talking to the people I know.... Heck, it bothers me even more if they're people I know."

    Well, that's something you couldn't have said before all this happened, I jested, trying to pick his moods up while mine were still on the ground. I mean, masks and makeup aren't exactly the same as being able to actually shape your face, is it?

    It worked a bit, and a sliver of a smile snaked its way across the Eevee's face. "Ianna, you're the best. I try to cheer you up and end up upsetting myself in the process, and yet you still manage to make me feel better."

    No problem, lil' guy, I smiled, turning back over, and I heard Tak curl back up on the couch. Then all was silent.

    "Ianna?" I heard him whisper.

    What?

    "What's it like?"

    What's what like?

    "Being able to know things that you're not supposed to."

    I chuckled mentally a moment. It's not always roses, I suppose. I mean, it may be a good thing to be able to see into others' feelings, but sometimes it just gets... way too personal for comfort. I don't like knowing what someone's thinking about someone else, or hearing other people walking down the streets with stuff on their minds. That-that is what drives me crazy.

    Another silence. "What?"

    The voices. I sighed. Others' consciousnesses... all of them talking at once.... At this Tak became worried about me. I'll be fine. It just takes a certain level of mental stamina to be able to block them out.

    He smiled. "G'night, Tane-chan." With this final remark, the room again was fully silent and I fell back to sleep.

    ~*~*~*~*~*~

    ::Kit::

    In the morning, we ate breakfast as prepared by Sesh, sitting on the beds with the meager meal of eggs, toast and bacon.

    "Ianna, what was this one about, the one last night?" Nat queried, looking to Tane. At this, Sesh, Ditz and I followed suit.

    I— Tane made a face, then looked up at the ceiling. I saw the Gate again. The darkness came from it this time.... She paused. How'd you know that I'd had another vision?

    "We heard Ditz having a one-sided conversation last night, and it seemed aimed towards you," I replied.

    "Let's go out today, maybe go sight-seeing?" Sesh began, trying to lighten the mood.

    Like there are any sights *to* see, Tane muttered, looking down at her half-eaten bacon and eggs.

    "Tane...." I came to sit beside her. "We all know how rough this has been on you lately. We just need to make it through it."

    Who said that it involved you guys?

    "You're one of us," Tak stated, also sitting beside her. "If something happens to you, we're here for you." The others made sounds of agreement.

    I suppose the motherly one needs to be mothered sometimes, ne?

    ~*~*~

    We actually did go out for the trip, and ended up looking around in the older parts of town, because Tane began to stray that way.

    I know it's here.... I can feel it.

    "What, Tane?"

    The Gate... she replied indifferently, not paying any attention to us. It all just went by so fast.... I was running... by here.... She rushed around corner after corner, looking hastily about at various decourative mouldings on the buildings. Tane stopped at one place, all of a sudden fearful as she dazed up at the old stone building.

    "Whassa matter?" Ditz began, a little worried.

    Pale and terrified beyond belief, she uttered, The Voice.

    ~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~



    Chapter Thirty-Four

    The silhouette of someone's shadow was wrought upon the cement steps, but they were yet to be seen.

    The Voice... The Voice is here.... I—I can feel him....

    I no longer possess a true voice, and therefore I shall use you, my dear, a deep masculine voice boomed, the shadow on the steps flashing away and striking Tane down to the sidewalk. She soon looked up with a lavender haze in her eyes that I felt was quite familiar, a smile on her face not her own.

    "Now then," she smirked, looking to us as she got up. We all backed off a step.

    "Wh-who are you, and what do you want?!" Sesh demanded, trying to freeze her. It didn't work and we all freaked.

    "My dears, I'm the venom of the Yamis' demise, the nightmare from which you'llnever awaken." With that, she waved her hand in a single motion and the world went dark all around us. "Are you prepared to face Darean, the eldest of the Yamis?" She began to show signs of clear pain, and it was obvious that having this creature within her was hurting her.

    Get—him out— she choked out. Then she went silent.

    "What do you want from us?" Sesh ground again, all of us shedding our borrowed forms. In the Raichu's hands were soon the Ineria, Angelus' katana in Ditz', and Annra's daggers in Nat's. I myself held no true weaponry but my own claws, though they were my most favourable allies when it came to hand-to-hand combat such as this.

    "I merely desire to avenge my siblings' demise," she replied. By this time Tane's skin had grown a pallid greenish tone.

    "What are you doing to her?!" I exclaimed in horror, seeing that her flesh had begun to become eaten away.

    "She's been severely poisoned by my presence. None of you shall survive this battle."

    Just—kill him! Ice—

    That's it! I exclaimed. Nat, Sesh, help me out here. Tane said that he can be frozen, so we need to remove him out of her body.

    But what about Tane? Sesh uttered, a little worried.

    We'll get her to Sarina's, or Jarrell. We'll be fine, just so long as we can kill him!

    You sure that's even possible? Nat muttered, skeptical and upset. I mean, he just overpowered possibly the greatest psychic mind we have!

    No, he didn't, I corrected. I can feel her struggling. Her dominance is only suppressed, and this guy's not doing too good a job of keeping her down, either.

    "I can tell you're plotting," Tane sang. With that, she rushed to knock Ditz down to the cement; the Eevee cried out as the cement took a liking to his back, leaving the street tinted red.

    The Yami forced Tane's hand into a blade-shaped appendage much like a Scyther's, and struck the poor Eevee hard, slicing him into what seemed to be a dozen pieces. She stood from her kill, admiring her handiwork a moment before moving on to Nat.

    She yelped when her eyes were set upon her, and she began backing away frantically.

    Ditz, now would be a good time to do your thing, she ground fearfully. Not a moment later the twelve Ditzes rushed up behind Tane and pounced upon her, pinning her to the sidewalk. "NOW!!"

    With that all three of us focused together to separate the Yami from Tane; it took all the strength we could muster to do so, but the gaseous form soon was forced from his flesh form. Ditz meshed back into one again, staying by Tane's side as Nat froze the Yami and Sesh threw the Ineria through the crystallised form. The Yami shattered into thousands of pieces, his telepathic cry of anguish ringing throughout all our minds. The icy blade having hit its mark, it now pierced the building wall.

    "Damn is that thing sharp," the Raichu uttered. "You see how easily it went into the marble face?"

    "I—It wasn't the sword," Tane uttered, voice cracking. "Th—the Gate...." With that, she fell unconscious, blank stare set solely upon the wall.

    We all looked to where the sword hung in the wall, soon finding it to have many glowing gemstones set in its face, and hundreds of golden lines, forming a pattern which encircled the sword's mark. The innermost rings were tighter together than those further from it; the centre soon fell into itself, leaving a swirling black mass in the wall, soon inhaling everything in its grasps into it, including the sword. And us.

    ~*~*~

    My eyes quivered a little at having been poked in the leg by someone's foot, and I soon opened them, looking up from the ground upon which I lay.

    My coming to had scared off the two boys whom had been prodding at me. I sat up rather groggily to find that we were in a park of sorts.

    "Guys," I whispered, looking to the others. We all were in our true forms. "Guys!"

    Sesh sat up, and looked to me. "What?"

    "Does this place look familiar to you... at all?"

    He looked around a moment, then back to me, worried. "No...."

    "Soshite sorekara ware wa 'adokenai dewa arimase' kare o naberu. Soshite wa naku." The girl giggled in response to her friend having said this.

    "Oh my God..." I uttered, wide-eyed as I saw all around me nothing but ancient writing. "We're not in Kanto anymore, Sesh...."
    Last edited by Kurai; 24th August 2003 at 09:29 PM.

    -=: [rose.iii] -=:=- [the.kuraitenshi] -=:=- [those.things.with.wings] :=-

    i'll believe all your lies, just pretend you love me
    make believe, close your eyes
    i'll be anything for you

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