Where Angels Dare to Tread

by Cori Falls


Chapter 2 -- The Call of Ayesha

As the rain drummed down on the tin roof of her tiny cabin, Tierra looked out the window and smiled, thankful that she didn't have to contend with the inclement weather. For the past month, she'd been exploring the ruins of Yew, searching for the artifacts that the ancient city's queen had used to rise to power. After several unsuccessful attempts to locate the queen's temple and several freak accidents which had destroyed most of her equipment, Tierra had been ready to dismiss the rumors of the enchanted staff and mask as little more than fantasy.

But just when she'd been about to give up all hope, three children had come to her aid. With his Golbat's sonar, the young man named Brock had pinpointed the location of the underground temple in a matter of minutes. And with the help of Brock's Geodude, they'd been able to dig their way into the temple. Upon reaching the temple, however, Tierra and the children had discovered that a trio of thieves from Team Rocket had beaten them there...and taken the staff and the mask for themselves! The female Rocket had donned the mask and taken control of all the pokemon in the temple, declaring herself the new queen. However, she hadn't known that the staff and mask's powers only worked within the city -- when she and the other two Rockets left the ruins and tried to flee, the children attacked them with their pokemon and took back the artifacts.

And now that the staff and mask of Queen Ayesha were in her possession, Tierra was studying them, hoping to discover how the sonar device inside the staff had been used to control the minds of pokemon...and why the artifacts' powers only extended to the boundaries of Yew. According to the tablets she'd translated, Queen Ayesha's powers had been given to her (and limited to the boundaries of her city) by the gods, but Tierra knew that this particular detail of Yew's history was nothing more than a myth. As an archaeologist, she knew that every mystery could be solved with the cold, hard facts of science, but the staff and mask still had her stumped. Had there really been more than science at work during Ayesha's reign?

"There must be a logical explanation...." Tierra muttered as she ran a hand through her short auburn hair and went to the kitchenette to get a cup of coffee. "Maybe there's something in the mountains around the city that affects the sonar's range," she speculated. "I'll have to take soil and rock samples from inside and outside the ruins and compare them...."

When Tierra returned to her desk, she looked out the window again. The storm had abated somewhat, and the silver light of the waxing moon was peeking through the black clouds. The icy rain had chilled the parched earth, and fog was now rising from the ground like hot breath from a pack of wild Houndour.

"....But it'll have to wait until morning," she continued, taking a sip of coffee.

As Tierra seated herself at the desk, however, something caught her attention. Moonlight was streaming through the window and playing on the inside surface of the golden mask...and a series of silver glyphs was slowly appearing on it!

"What the?! Where did those come from?!" she wondered. When she picked up the mask and switched on her electric lantern, however, the glyphs vanished.

Tierra shook her head and rubbed her eyes. "That's impossible! I could've sworn I saw something," she said. But as she scrutinized the mask in the warm, yellow lantern light, she couldn't find any scratches, embossings, or raised areas in the gold. Nothing to indicate that glyphs of any sort had ever been there.

"Impossible...." she muttered. But as she prepared to set the mask back on the desk, a shaft of moonlight caught the gold surface once more and made the glyphs faintly visible again.

Tierra's blue eyes widened. "I know I saw something that time!" she exclaimed. Moving the mask so that it was fully in the moonlight, she watched as the glyphs began to glow more brightly. Once they'd materialized, she leaned closer and read the words aloud:

When the body dies and crumbles to dust, the soul lives on.
When the chosen one arrives, the gateway shall be reopened.
When the soul claims the body, the body shall claim the earth.

Tierra's brow furrowed. "What does this mean?" she whispered. "And why is it that these glyphs are only visible in moonlight?"

While she sat there, pondering these questions, the moon became enveloped by black clouds once more. As the glyphs faded away, there was a flash of lightning, and all of the lights in the cabin went out.

"Damn!" she grumbled.

Setting the mask down, Tierra got up from her desk and began feeling around for her flashlight. As she fumbled about in the darkness, she heard thumping and creaking noises that hadn't been audible when the lights were on...and then a faint rale, like the sound of somebody breathing. A chill ran up her spine, and cold sweat started to form on her brow.

"Wh-wh-who's th-there?!" she stammered, wheeling around to face the unseen visitor.

But the only reply she received was the sound of rolling thunder in the distance, and all she could see was the pitch black of night.

Tierra closed her eyes and placed a hand on her forehead. "Oh, snap out of it!" she reproached herself. "This storm is playing tricks on your imagination!" After taking a moment to calm herself, she chuckled and dismissed the noises she'd heard as her footsteps on the creaky floor of the old cabin and the pounding of her own heart.

Breathing a sigh of relief, Tierra resumed the search for her flashlight. After a couple minutes of groping around in the darkness, she finally found it in the cabinet next to her bed. But when she picked it up, the power came back on.

"Heh. Guess I didn't need this after all...but I think I'll keep it handy, just in case." She shook her head and laughed as she set the flashlight on her desk. "I certainly don't need another scare like that tonight!"

When Tierra picked up the mask and prepared to resume her studies, however, she saw that she wasn't alone -- a woman in a white gown was standing on the other side of the desk. Caught off-guard by the intrusion, her knees buckled, and she dropped the mask.

"Wh-who...who are you?!" she asked.

The woman trained her icy-green eyes on Tierra and scowled. "Silence, peasant!" she hissed.

Tierra scrambled to regain her balance. "Who are you?!" she asked again.

In response, the woman grabbed the staff of Ayesha from the desk and deftly twirled it about. Then, she struck Tierra in the head with it and knocked her to the floor. "How dare you speak to me in such an impudent manner and desecrate my treasure?" she said coldly.

Tierra gritted her teeth and rubbed her throbbing temple. "Your treasure?! Those are historical artifacts -- they don't belong to anybody!"

The woman placed the end of the staff under Tierra's chin and forced her to look up. "Fool. You would not say such things if you knew who you were dealing with."

Tierra studied the woman's features for a moment. With her shoulder-length auburn hair and cold green eyes, the robe-like white gown, and the ornate jewelry that adorned her body, she looked exactly like.... "N-no! That's impossible! Queen Ayesha died 2,000 years ago!"

The woman pulled her lips into a smirk-smile and nodded. "Indeed, I did. But when the body dies and crumbles to dust, the soul lives on."

Tierra shook her head. "I remember reading on the tablets...when Queen Ayesha was on her death-bed, she paid a Necromancer to help her find the key to immortality. But I thought that was only part of the myth...."

"You thought wrong," she retorted. "It's true my sorcerer didn't weave a spell to help me live forever, but he did find a way for me to return to life without having to deal with all of that bothersome karma and reincarnation. You see, when I died, my soul didn't go to the realm of the dead. Instead, I went to the Astral Plane. For 2,000 years I've been waiting there...waiting for the chosen one to claim my mask and reopen the gateway so that I could return to this world."

"The chosen one...the gateway...." Tierra whispered. "That inscription on the mask was a prophecy, wasn't it?"

Ayesha nodded again. "When my sorcerer cast his spell, he inscribed those runes onto my mask. He turned it into the key that would unlock the gateway between worlds and bring me back."

Tierra got to her feet again and met the queen's icy stare. "Well, your prophecy isn't going to come true, Ayesha!" she said defiantly. "I'll destroy the mask before I let you take possession of me!" As she lifted her foot and prepared to stomp on the mask, however, Ayesha swung her staff and knocked her down again.

"For a woman of science, you're not very logical," she chuckled. "It does no good to destroy the key after the door has already been unlocked...and you can't break my mask by stepping on it, anyway. And do you honestly believe that you're the chosen one?"

Tierra frowned and wiped away a trickle of blood that was coming from a cut on her forehead. "I'm the one who has the mask. Who else could it be?"

Ayesha's chuckling gave way to laughter. "Don't flatter yourself! If I could take just anybody as my avatar...if any random peasant could hear my call, don't you think I'd have returned to life ages ago? You couldn't even find my temple when it was right under your nose -- you needed the help of three children and their pokemon!"

"Well...if not me, then who?" she demanded.

"Only a woman of exceptional beauty and strength...only one worthy of hosting a soul such as mine can hear the call of the mask," Ayesha explained. "A woman like that only comes about once every century, or so...and today, one finally heard the call and heeded. I've already claimed my new body and fulfilled the prophecy! Now, all I need is...."

When Ayesha said this, her voice trailed off, and her face contorted in a wince of pain. As she doubled over, her auburn hair turned a bright shade of crimson and became so long that it practically reached the floor. When she looked up again, she was no longer Queen Ayesha -- she was just a young woman wearing a white nightgown.

"Wh-what's going on?" the woman stammered as she looked at Tierra with fear-filled sapphire eyes. "Where am I?! Where's James?!"

Tierra gasped when she recognized who it was.

The woman threw down the staff and began looking frantically around the cabin. "JAMES!!! MEOWTH!!! HELP ME!!!" she cried.

"The girl from Team Rocket!" Tierra whispered. "So that's how they found the temple before I did...."

As the woman continued to scream for her friends, Tierra stood up once more and came to her side. When she placed a hand on her shoulder and tried to calm her down, however, her blue eyes became ice-green again, and she slapped Tierra away.

"Don't touch me," the woman snarled in Ayesha's voice. After a moment, she winced again and slowly transformed back into the queen.

Tierra covered her mouth with her hands and began to tremble.

Ayesha shook her head and rolled her eyes. "That's the problem with having such a willful host -- she's difficult to control," she grumbled. Then, looking at Tierra again, "And that's why I'm here. I need my staff and my mask so that I can banish Jessie's soul and have her body all to myself. Once she's out of the way, I can reign supreme once again!"

"What makes you think I'll hand them over?" said Tierra.

"Because you have no say in the matter," came Ayesha's reply. With that, she raised her hands, and the staff and mask began to levitate.

Tierra's eyes widened as she watched the artifacts float through the air and into Ayesha's waiting hands. "H-how can this be?!" she asked. "I thought your powers only worked inside the city...and we're not...."

Ayesha smirked again and placed the golden mask atop her head. "Again, you thought wrong. That's one advantage to being dead for such a long time -- I've had two millenia to hone my powers!"

"Th-then why did your powers fail this afternoon?" Tierra queried as she began inching her hand towards the drawer beneath her desk. The drawer where she kept her gun.

"Because I wasn't completely in charge this afternoon," Ayesha explained. "When Jessie put the mask on, I spent most of my energy fighting her for control, so I couldn't use my powers to their full extent. Not so now. Her soul is still struggling against me, but she made the mistake of falling asleep -- her conscious mind couldn't supress me then, and she can't stop me now that I'm in control. And once I get rid of her, nobody can stop me! I'll rule the world with power and might...maybe even the power of a god...."

While Tierra listened, she slowly reached into the drawer and closed her hand around the gun. Once she had a secure grip, she pulled the gun from the drawer and took aim. "Think again, Ayesha!" she cried.

"Oh, please. Do you really think your pathetic weapons can do anything to hurt me?" Ayesha snorted as she pointed her staff at Tierra. The crystal on the end of the staff began to glow, making the gun fly from Tierra's hand and go skidding across the room.

Tierra sweatdropped. "Oh, shit!"

Ayesha's lips curved into a wicked smile. "You don't have what it takes to stop me. As you've so clearly demonstrated, this is a world filled with people who don't believe in magic...people who are easy to control. I wouldn't have wasted my time talking to you if you were any kind of threat. However, since I don't want you pestering me, either...." With that, she swung her staff again and struck Tierra upside the head.

As Tierra fell to the floor, the world around her went blurry. The image of Queen Ayesha laughing and pulling her golden mask over her face was the last thing she saw before everything faded to black.


When Gary opened his eyes, he found himself standing in a lush meadow filled with flowers. In the distance, a herd of Ponyta was munching on the green grass, and a flock of Butterfree was fluttering about and landing on the flowers. Just over the hill, he could see the windmill on the roof of Professor Oak's lab.

"Pallet Town...." he whispered. "I'm home!"

As Gary began heading towards his grandpa's lab, however, something caught his attention. A woman with long, auburn hair was standing in the shade of a large oak tree just a few feet away. At first glance, he thought it was May, but when he looked more closely, he saw that her eyes were amethyst rather than blue. And when he saw the green and gold pendant that the woman was wearing around her neck, Gary realized who she was.

"G-grandma?" he stammered. "Grandma, is that you?"

The woman smiled at him and nodded. "Hello, Gary."

Gary's eyes filled with tears. Vivien Oak had passed away a couple of years before he was born, but he'd heard stories about her from his grandpa, his parents, and his great-aunt Rowena. He was grateful that his grandma's memory lived on with his family, but Gary had always wished that he could have known her himself.

"I know what you're thinking," Vivien went on. "You're probably wondering why I'm here."

"Yes, I am," Gary admitted as he came to her side. "But I'm happy that you are here. I've always wanted to meet you, grandma. I've always wanted the chance to talk to you."

Vivien smiled again and tousled Gary's spiky auburn hair. "I've always been with you, Gary -- I've been watching over you."

Gary smiled and cupped his green and gold pendant in his hands. "That's what I thought."

"I'm glad to see that my luckbringer is in such good hands," Vivien remarked. "I was very happy when Samuel gave it to you."

"I'm glad grandpa gave it to me, too," Gary replied. "I know it's always felt like a good luck talisman to me!"

Vivien nodded approvingly, but quickly became serious. "Gary, I wish I could say that the reason for this visit was a pleasant one, but it's not."

Gary frowned. "What's wrong, grandma?" he asked. "Are you disappointed in me?"

"Not at all!" came her reply. "Gary, you've never disappointed me. I've always been very proud of you!"

"Then what is it?"

Vivien closed her eyes and took a deep breath. "Listen carefully, Gary -- this is a matter of grave importance. I've feared for a long time that this would happen, and now it has...."

"What are you talking about, grandma?!" Gary interjected. "What happened?!"

Vivien opened her eyes again and looked back at her grandson. "For 2,000 years, an evil spirit has lain dormant beneath the ruined city of Yew. But today, that evil was unleashed. Like the Dwarves who dug too deep and awoke the Balrog beneath the mines of Moria...today, somebody dug too deep and awoke the evil beneath Yew."

Gary shuddered.

"I know this evil, Gary. I know it all too well," she continued. With that, she waved her hand, and the meadow that surrounded them transformed into a ruined city nestled in the mountains of western Johto. A young couple and a middle-aged couple were sitting together in the shade of a makeshift pavilion, studying a set of stone tablets. Gary recognized the young couple as Professor Oak and Vivien, but the red-haired woman and violet-haired man who were with them were unfamiliar to him.

"Forty years ago, your grandfather and I were on an archaeological dig in the ruins of Yew. Our good friends, Jim and Rose Morgan, were there with us," Vivien explained. "During our expedition, Rose and I were plagued by nightmares of the ancient city's queen. We saw visions...visions of the queen using an enchanted staff and mask to control the minds of pokemon...visions of her soul, haunting the city. She yearned for life once again, and she'd sensed our presence. She was calling to us. But Rose and I resisted the call -- together, we cast a spell to strengthen our psychic shield. It stopped our nightmares and deafened us to her call, but we knew that it didn't make the danger any less real...."

Gary watched intently as the image of the two couples gave way to one of his grandma and the red-haired woman standing together in a circle of bluish-white fire. From the darkness, a spectral hand was reaching for them, but the fires of the circle were keeping it at bay.

"When our nightmares began, we told our husbands about what we'd seen," Vivien went on. "Jim was a follower of the old ways, just like me and Rose...and even though Samuel didn't believe in it himself, he always believed in me and respected what I had to say. After we cast our spell, Samuel knew that our fears were legitimate and called off the dig. The four of us also did everything we could to discourage others from exploring the ruins and discovering the evil. Samuel told his colleagues that he'd confirmed the myths of Queen Ayesha's enchanted staff and mask to be just that -- myths. And the Morgans refused to fund further archaeological digs in the area since 'nothing of interest' was there. But it wasn't enough...."

Suddenly, the image of Vivien and Rose casting their spell changed into one of a young woman exploring the ruins of Yew. The woman was using a sonar to scan the area, but it suddenly short-circuited and went dead. And when she stopped to make repairs to the scanner, a pillar from one of the ruined buildings toppled over and crushed her digging apparatus.

Vivien sighed. "About a month ago, this archaeologist found the tablets of Yew at the museum in Viridian City. They piqued her curiosity, and she began a new dig, hoping to succeed where we'd 'failed.' Rose and I have been trying to make her abandon the search -- the short-circuiting electronics, falling pillars crushing her equipment, and all of the other accidents were our doing, but none of it worked. Today she found the temple, and even though she was deaf to the call of the queen, somebody who could hear it was nearby. And since the one who could hear the call wasn't aware of the danger, she was powerless to resist it...."

Gary sweatdropped as he recalled the vision he'd had of Jessie writhing in agony. "G-grandma? Are the ruins of Yew near a town called Rowandale, by any chance?" he queried.

Vivien nodded. "You already know, don't you?"

Tears welled up in Gary's eyes. "Oh, no...no! What did that thing do to Jessie?!" he cried.

"Queen Ayesha wants to return to life, and in order to do that, she needs a human body to inhabit," Vivien told him. "She's chosen your friend, Jessie...and already claimed her."

"W-well, isn't there anything I can do?!" Gary asked. "Please, grandma! If there's any way that I...or James and Meowth can save Jessie, then you have to tell me!"

"There is," she replied. "That's why I'm here, Gary. I wouldn't have told any of this to you if there was nothing you could do about it."

"Then, what do I have to do?"

"There's only one person in this world who has the power to stop Queen Ayesha now," Vivien said. "That person is Rose Morgan's grandson. But he can't do it without the help of his friends. That's where you come in, Gary...."

Gary closed his eyes and thought for a moment. "James. James is Rose Morgan's grandson, isn't he?"


"How can I help him, grandma?"

Vivien smiled. "I remember, Jim and Rose were so happy when their grandson was born. He was more like a child to them than their own daughter was! He certainly took after them more than he did his parents."

Gary felt more tears stinging his eyes as he recalled how Jessie had once told him about James's uncaring, emotionally abusive parents. "I'm glad his grandparents loved him," he muttered.

"They loved him more than anything," said Vivien. "When James was born, Jim and Rose knew that he was special. Rose wanted to teach her secrets to him. She knew that he'd be more open-minded about the old ways than her daughter and son-in-law, and she had the feeling that he was going to need that knowledge someday. He did, indeed, learn a bit about the old ways while Jim and Rose were alive, but...."

"But what?" Gary prompted.

"His parents disapproved of Jim and Rose's sinful Pagan ways, and they tried to keep James away from them. He never had a chance to learn all of their secrets," she told him. "But if he wants to save Jessie from Ayesha, he needs to learn how to use magic the way Rose and I did."

"What does this have to do with me?" Gary asked. "How can I help him? I mean, I've listened to all of aunt Rowena's stories, and I've always been interested in magic and such, but I don't know how to use it!"

"You don't have to," Vivien replied. "You see, Jim and Rose were already very old when James was born -- they knew that they weren't going to be around long enough to teach him everything...especially since he had to choose to follow our path of his own accord, and it was a few years before he was old enough to understand and make that choice. Rose also feared that her daughter would destroy all of her books and magical tools after she died, thus ensuring that James couldn't learn more about the old ways."

Gary hung his head. "What a shame...."

Vivien cupped his chin in her hand and smiled. Then, with a wave of her free hand, the ruined city that surrounded them was transformed into the library at Professor Oak's house. "And here's how you can help. When James was a baby, Rose entrusted me with two very important things -- her diary and her Book of Shadows. She told me that if anything happened to her, she wanted those two books to be kept safe from her daughter and given to James when the time was right. In the end, I died several years before Rose did, but I kept my promise to her nonetheless -- to this day, her two most important books are still tucked away in a hidden corner of Samuel's library."

"And now the time is right, and James needs those books?" Gary concluded.

"Yes. Rose's diary has an account of our run-in with Ayesha and how we protected ourselves from her. And her Book of Shadows contains the secrets of her spellwork," Vivien explained. "With those books, James will gain the knowledge that he needs to stop Ayesha and save Jessie. He has the power within himself -- he just doesn't know how to use it yet. Gary, you must find Rose's books and take them to James. Without them, Jessie's soul will be lost forever, and Ayesha will return to life and claim more victims!"

"You can count on me, grandma!" he said.

She smiled again and caressed Gary's cheek. "I knew I could. My family has a long history of friendship with the Morgans -- Jim and Rose were my parents' friends as well as mine and Rowena's. Your friendship with James...and Jessie and Meowth was meant to be. I know that you won't let them down."

"I remember...when I first became friends with them, Jessie told me that she believes everything in life happens for a reason," Gary whispered as he brushed his tears away. "She was right."

"Indeed, she was," Vivien agreed. "That's why you have the power to help save her."

"I'll find those books, grandma! And I'll get them to James as soon as I can!" Gary promised. "Those three are some of the best friends I've ever had -- I'll be damned if I let anything happen to them!"

Vivien folded her grandson into an embrace and planted a kiss on his forehead. "I'm sure that you'll come through for them, Gary -- I've been watching over you your whole life, and I know what a courageous and trustworthy person you are."

Gary sniffled.

She smiled again. "I have to go now. I'm sorry that our first meeting had to be under such grim circumstances. Perhaps in the future, I'll visit your dreams during happier times. But in the meantime, know that I'm always with you. Good-bye, Gary...and good luck."

"Good-bye, grandma," Gary whispered as the images of Vivien and Professor Oak's library slowly faded away. "And thank you. I just hope you're right...."


James closed his eyes and smiled as he felt the warm summer breeze playing with his blue-violet hair and the soft carpet of grass tickling his bare feet. Birds were singing in the trees, and the air was thick with the perfume of thousands of rose bushes in bloom. His grand-papa and grand-mama's estate had been his favorite place when he was a child, and even now he loved dreaming about it and conjuring images of it in his mind's eye. The memories of the times he spent there with his grandparents always made him feel peaceful inside.

Someday I'll return here and stay forever...with Jessie by my side, he said to himself. I can't imagine a better place for us to call home...or a better place to get married and raise our children.

Opening his eyes again, James inhaled the sweet fragrance of the blooming roses and surveyed the area. The smile on his lips grew even wider than it already was as he remembered all of the times he'd tended roses in the garden with his grand-papa and all the times he'd gone for nature-walks in the forest with his grand-mama. It had been in the garden where James had discovered his spirituality, and it had been on a walk in the forest when he and his grand-mama had found Growly. The old Morgan estate was a place where good things always happened.

Suddenly, James heard the sound of laughter. Looking over his shoulder, he saw Jessie standing at the top of a nearby hill and gazing down at a field of wildflowers. When she saw him standing on the far side of the field, Jessie's face lit up with joy. His emerald eyes glittered as he turned around and held his arms out to her.

Jessie laughed again and held out her own arms. Then, she began running down the hill.

James's heart skipped a beat as he watched her. The breeze was blowing her mane of crimson hair in every direction and billowing the folds of her diaphanous white gown, making it cling to her in all the right places and show off every curve and sinew of her beautiful body. She looked like an angel...and to James, that's exactly what she was.

When Jessie reached the bottom of the hill and began running through the field, James started running towards her. His heart raced as he fantasized about taking her in his arms and never letting go. He wanted to kiss every inch of her smooth creamy skin, to twine wildflowers in her silky hair, and to make passionate love to her under the canopy of crystal-blue sky. And as Jessie drew ever closer, he could tell from the sparkle in her sapphire eyes that she wanted him, too.

"James," she sighed dreamily.

Just as he was about to catch her in an embrace, however, James saw another woman appear behind Jessie. A woman with cold green eyes and a malevolent smile on her lips. The sight of her made his blood run cold.

"Jessie! Behind you!" he cried.

Jessie gasped when she looked over her shoulder and saw the woman.

The smile on the woman's lips became a grin as she grabbed Jessie by the hair and yanked her backwards. In response, Jessie turned on her heel and delivered a roundhouse kick to the woman's stomach. The force of the impact caused her to reel backwards and release her grip on Jessie's hair.

As Jessie pitched sideways, James caught her and helped her regain her balance. "Are you okay, Jess?!" he asked.

She nodded.

"Good! Now, let's get out of here!" he said. With that, James took Jessie's hand in his own, and the two of them began to run.

Suddenly, however, the woman materialized before them and blocked their escape. "Where do you think you're going?" she asked smugly.

Jessie shuddered as she realized who the woman was. "Oh god, James! It's her! The queen that the staff and mask belonged to!"

James studied the woman for a moment and frowned. She looked exactly like the statue they'd seen in the temple. "I thought she seemed familiar."

The queen smirked at them. "Yes. I am Ayesha -- Queen of Yew and ruler of all pokemon."

James put his arms around Jessie and fixed the queen with a defiant green stare. "L-listen...your majesty. We're sorry about what happened this afternoon, but we don't have your treasure anymore -- you've got the wrong people!" he told her.

"Yeah! If you want your staff and mask back, then go bother the twerpy kids who stole them from us!" Jessie added as she returned James's embrace.

Ayesha chuckled. "It's true that I want my treasure back. And I know that you're not the ones who have it."

Jessie and James held each other closer. "Then, why....?"

"Because I want something else, too," she replied, cutting them off. With that, she grabbed Jessie by the shoulders and wrenched her from James's grasp.

"NO!!!" Jessie screamed.

"Leave her alone, you bitch!" James shouted. As he tried to take Jessie back, however, Ayesha brought up her hand and knocked him away with a strike that had enough power to floor a charging Rhydon.

When Jessie saw her lover crash into a nearby tree and crumple to the ground, she took advantage of the momentary distraction and broke away from Ayesha's grasp. But when she tried to run to James's side and see if he was okay, the queen gave chase.

"No!!! Let me go!!!" Jessie cried as Ayesha grabbed her by the waist and pulled her into a bear-hug. "JAMES!!!"

Ignoring the white-hot pain that was throbbing in his head and back, James got to his feet again. When his vision came back into focus, he saw Ayesha lifting a kicking and struggling Jessie from the ground.

As Ayesha covered Jessie's mouth to muffle her screams, Jessie bit her fingers and forced her to let go for a moment. "JAMES, HELP ME!!!" she pleaded before the queen clamped her hand over her mouth and silenced her once again.

"JESSICA!!! James screamed. As he charged Ayesha, she gouged her fingers into a pressure-point on Jessie's throat and made her go limp. Then, the two of them vanished into thin air. All that remained were the sounds of Jessie's cries and Ayesha's malicious laughter, fading away on the warm summer breeze.

To be Continued....

Author's Notes

About the names: I chose all of the city and town names in this story for a reason. Not only does the plant-theme fit in with how places in Johto are named, but the names have important meanings in plant lore as well. Grove means "wisdom gained from visions of the past," Rowan means "protection from control by others," and Yew is a symbol that death is only a pause before rebirth. I named the evil queen after the title character in She, by H. Rider Haggard.

Gary's grandmother, Vivien Oak, is a character that was created by my friend, Shigeru1313. She was named after the Lady of the Lake in Arthurian legend. Vivien's sister, Rowena, is also one of Shigeru1313's characters. I make some references to her story, More Than Allies, in this story since we're following the same timeline with our fanfiction arcs, so I'd like to give her a very special thanks for letting me use her characters in my story, and for the beautiful illustration of Vivien. ^_^


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