****** Love and Sacrifice: Family Ties

"Reix, we've been in hiding for too long... We need to do something," Vaela Demis, former top instructor of the Zentai Elite pokemon force, said to Reix, former soldier of the Zentai Elite pokemon force. Ever since the whole Zentai versus Sai clash had begun, or rather, even before that, the two of them had been in hiding, for as skilled as they were in both teaching and in combat, they were wanted back by both the Y-Faction and Sai. They had decided, like a small number of other Zentai soldiers, to try and stay out of new blood baths.

At the moment, the group of them, worldwide, had adopted the name the 'Renegades'; that was what they were, renegades. Vaela and Reix had been sort of adopted as their leaders, and they kept track of their little group, doing what they could to try and herd everyone to one small, relatively unoccupied area, somewhere along the border between Eurel and Arasia. So far, a little over half the group had made it, and they hoped, sometime within the next month, that the whole group would be together, and they would start carrying out their plans.

The way they saw it, either the Y-Faction or Sai would be emerging victorious soon. From the way things stood, it would be the Y-Faction, for the young Yiana Naventa had been raised on war, and she was a much better tactician than her uncle, the head of Sai. Not to mention the soldiers and pokemon of the Y-Faction were incredibly loyal to her, so much so that it was almost like they worshipped her, and would be willing to do anything to please Yiana.

The Y-Faction also had possession of the seventeen Pokemon professors in charge of the hybrid projects and many other covert projects. Experiments like the hybrids were too long-term for the Y-Faction to ever consider duplicating, but short term ones, like genetic implants, or weapons that enhanced a pokemon's fighting abilities, were things they were interested in. With those professors, they were set for world domination.

After the Y-Faction won, the Renegades planned to either try and ally with the hybrids to overthrow the Y-Faction, or ally with the Y-Faction... They had a feeling either group would have a hard time trusting their rag-tag group, but it was worth a shot.

"I know we need to do something," Reix replied, rubbing down his zapdos. The pokemon usually enjoyed the weekly rub-down, but it could practically taste the tension in the air, and that caused it to become agitated instead of relaxed.

Vaela sighed, looking at her scyther, who attempted to shrug. Suddenly, a thought came to her. "Reix?"

"Hmm?" He looked up from his work, his long brown hair falling over his eyes.

"Remember Donari?" She asked tentatively, knowing the girl was a touchy subject with him.

Immediately, his eyes darkened, and Vaela could tell that he was a little irritated by the question. "Of course I remember her," he replied, going back to work on his zapdos.

"She's on this little island where she protects people against any of the two factions, along with this little independent mercenary group run by Leah Sulin, you remember her, right?"

"Yeah, she had great potential, but then she left." Reix was frowning slightly, trying to figure out where Vaela was going with this.

"Well," carefully, she approached Reix, "maybe we could move our group there? It's not all that far, and I happen to have its location. Think about it this way: if we ally ourselves with them, we won't have to fight, unless the Y-Faction decides to try and take over us."

Now, she had Reix's full attention, and he had stopped grooming his zapdos, his eyes fixed on the brown-haired ex-instructor. "How'd you get their location...?"

"Easy. We intercepted one of their Pidgeys sending a message to a hybrid. The pidgey died during capture, unfortunately, so we have no idea where the hybrid lives, and the message was just an agreement to an un-specified plan. But judging by the black stripes on the bird, it was from just off the coast of Arasia. We sent a couple of scouts around that area, and we eventually stumbled across the island." Now, she stood just a foot away from Reix. "You know, if they aren't more careful, the Y-Faction or Sai's gonna find them, and wipe them out. Pacifist nations are a threat to their goal, and from what I've learned, they're making a name fore themselves now. And you know, with her parents missing, she's the only Tavis alive..." She trailed off.

Although Reix realized it was all a well planned trap laid by Vaela, he could not help but leap right into it. All she had to do was even suggest that Donari might be getting in trouble, and she had him in her lap like a pampered meowth. "Alright, you win. We're heading off for their island." Slightly frustrated for not being able to find a way out of it, he quickly returned to his zapdos, ignoring the triumphant look in Vaela's eyes, and the smirk on her face. The two of them had been rivals ever since they had entered the Zentai Academy several years ago. They had become best friends, but they still always competed with each other.

/Donna, Tahari.../ Reix thought, his blue eyes brooding. /You owe me a lot, even in death... Why'd you have to go and surrender like that? I could have gotten you both out of it./


Love and Sacrifice: Side Story - Xeth

To me, life's a stage, and all the living things are the actors and actresses, and like they say, the show must go on. If you want to survive, you need to learn about masks, covers of one's personality so that other's don't learn about your weaknesses. People claim they know me, but they really don't. Or they only know a part of me.

I learnt about masks early on in my life, earlier than normal humans, or even pokemon do. See, when people look at me, they see a cheerful, happy-go-lucky hybrid, and they don't bother to look deeper, because they're content with what they see. Kinda like Shadow. You look at him, and you see a quiet, determined hybrid who doesn't care about anyone else, or himself really. But that's not true. That's just the layer of ice over the raging waters. And I know that he's been through the same kind of pain I've been through. Its just, we have different ways of hiding it.

---------------------- 2080- Xeth's age, five ----------------------

"XETH?! Where the f*** is that kid!?"

Cowering in a corner, I had shut my eyes tightly and covered my ears, as if by not hearing or seeing the man come, everything would be all right, but that was not how it would be, and I found myself lifted into the air, and I opened my eyes and un-covered my ears, kicking wildly and screaming.

"Shut up!" The man ordered, slapping me hard and causing me to shut up, except for the occasional muffled whimper. "I told you not to go into the lab, didn't I? Didn't I?!" Angrily, he shook me, my head bouncing back and forth.

"..yes." I managed to say despite my terror, dangling upside down from the man's strong hand like a little helpless baby meowth. "I promise I won't do it again!" I pleaded, hot tears running out of my eyes and falling to the ground.

"You better not, or I'm putting your tail out!" The man threatened, lowering me, and then dropping me when I was about a foot off the floor. "Go to your room, now!"

Quickly scrambling to my feet, my red eyes wide with fear, I ran out of the empty room and hurried to my own quarters.


"Xeth, what'd ya do this time?" Another little boy asked me as I entered the room, sniffling and wiping my eyes with my sleeve.

"I went inta the lab again..." My voice was self-pitying, for I knew that the other boy wasn't going to be very sympathetic.

"But Mr. Hayson told us ta never go in there Xeth!" He scolded, looking at me a little worriedly. "He caught you, didn't he?" He noticed the red mark on my cheek, and sighed.

"Yeah, I know, I know..." I climbed onto my bed, curling up by my pillow. "I just wanted ta look at the fire pokemon..." The base members that took care of us kept a tight watch over us, and we weren't allowed to just run free. Mr. Hayson especially was really strict, and he would hit us sometimes if we disobeyed him. Neither of us liked him very much, but we did our best to listen to him. Sephir did a much better job when it came to that, but sometimes he got caught up in my untamed curiosity.

Jumping off of his own bed, the other boy joined me, curling up by my side. "Next time, we'll go together, okay? I can watch the door, and you sneak in, k?" The scheming minds of five year olds at work... For our age, we were quite mature, but then, we weren't completely human, and many pokemon grew up much faster than humans did.

I nodded, my face now dry, but my nose still a bit red, the whites of my eyes too. I looked directly at the other boy, red eyes meeting red eyes, identical faces with identical looks of determination starring at each other, and silently, we both nodded together, hugging. "Thanks Sephir."

"No problem," he replied, smiling at me. "After all, orphan twins stick up for each other, right?"


----------------------- 2083- Xeth's age, eight -----------------------

"No! You're not leaving, Seph! I refuse to let you leave!" I stomped my foot indignantly, folding my arms across my chest. How dare my brother even think about leaving me? "You don't really wanna go, do ya Sephir?"

"Xeth, I don't wanna live here anymore," Sephir said in a calm voice, doing as best as he could to calm me down. "I'll visit you, I promise." He ran a hand through his short spiky hair, which was how people told us apart, other than his lack of a tail, for I had longer hair. "They want me to get started in doing little missions." Unsaid was the fact that they favored Sephir over me. We were equal fighters, but Sephir did not have the handicap of being dependent on a tail flame, and he listened to authority.

"So you're leaving me?" I asked, incredulous. I remember I was shocked at first, and then hurt in a way I still have not recovered from. Walking up to my brother, I hugged him with my little arms, resting my head on his shoulder, tears streaking down my cheeks. "Please don't go Seph... Please?" I begged him, my voice quiet, showing my fear at being left alone. "We can be soldiers together. I can't be here on my own..." Enough with the masks, an eight year old could only hold so much back, and I started sobbing into his shoulder.

Now, Seph too started crying, and he held tightly onto me. "But I need to start real training; that's the problem... I look human enough to do some good spying. I'll just have to change my eye colour." Mission before even family. No wonder they loved him so much. But I loved him more. I loved him for everything about him, not just his battle skills.

Finally slipping out of my brother's hold, I wiped the tears away, trying to catch them before they well. "But you'll still visit me, right?" I asked, wiping my nose with my shirt sleeve.

"Right. I promise, twin's honor." Seph held out his hand.

"Twin's honor," I replied, sniffing, and then shaking Seph's hand.

------------ A week later ------------

"Xeth?" Seph said as he was about to leave, having finalized his decision.

Eyes downcast, I replied in a muffled voice. "Yeah?"

"Promise me you'll keep smiling, no matter what? Don't ever change." His voice seemed a little strained, and I realized that he was actually regretting his decision.

"I promise, Seph." And despite the pain I felt inside, I smiled as brightly as I could. "See?"

Seph smiled back, then reached into his pocket and handed something to me. "Wear this, and I'll always be with you, k?"

Nodding, I hugged my brother one last time, restraining my tears, the first time I would truly try to hold my emotions in and wear a mask. "I love you." I spoke shyly, for I had never said those words to my dear brother, or anyone before, and I never have again.

At first, Seph looked at me, shocked, his red eyes wide open, but then he grinned, reaching out to ruffle my longer hair. "I love you too," he informed me before turning to leave. "I'll see you again Xeth, twin's honor, remember?"

"Yeah!" I replied cheerfully, waving as my brother exited the base. "Twin's honor..."

But I would never hear from my twin again. Any question of him was answered with a glare, or some sort of blow that would immediately shut me up, for I'd be too busy dealing with the pain to ask again. Eventually, I learnt that I would get no answers, and simply tried to accept the fact that my twin was gone forever, but I couldn't, so I just wore the mask he told me to that last time I saw him.

I kept smiling.

End Side Story 2.


Love and Sacrifice(v3): The curtain has risen for the next Act.

------------ Four weeks later ------------

Twirling a rose delicately, Yiana watched what she hoped would be their last battle against SAi. "Cadet T. Smith..." She whispered to herself, as she noticed one of her soldiers die, branding the name into her mind so that she would forever remember the young soul that had died for her. She remembered every single one of them. Their names, their stats, everything there was that she could know about them. Her way was not to carelessly throw away the lives of her forces as Sai did. She valued each life, and despite their willingness to die for her, she tried to do her best to minimize the casualties of both humans and pokemon.

A loud cheer erupted among her troops as the surrendering flag of Sai was displayed, their own forces about to retreat, but hers took the initiative and took them captive. Yiana had long learnt that even after you had defeated your enemy, you had to make sure there were none left to try and kill you later on. It was late in the night, so she was going to let her soldiers rest, but early tomorrow, all over the world in the different time zones, she was going to have them invade the Sai bases, and take over before anyone had the time to run away.

Carefully, she placed her rose back into its vase, standing up from her desk and gazing out the window. It was dark outside, and bright stars speckled the sky. /This world needs to be changed, and soon... We've been living the wrong way for too long. Democracy? No, that only works sometimes. They choose soft leaders, weak people, men usually, afraid to use the natural need of humans and pokemon to fight for a good cause./ She snorted softly, watching a shooting star fall, savoring its beauty. /But that's going to change. The world needs a strong leader, one to unite the world and return it to its former glory!/ She closed her curtains, ready to leave her office for the night. "And that's going to be me..."

Sighing, she picked up some files she had planned to look over, new information that she had found on the hybrids. /If only Reix was still on my side... He was a great soldier, but I'd known he would betray me for a long time. He tried to hide it, but he was only with us to try and destroy us from within./ She smiled fondly, remembering the spirited younger man he had been. /Smart boy.../ She walked up to her door, opening it and walking out, glad to be out of her office, if only for a little while. /Haris will have to do, I suppose, if he can learn to do away with his obsession with me.../

Quietly, with the grace of a persian, yet the proud gait of an arcanine, she made her way to her own private quarters in the base, settling down to a glass of wine and a book. Her rooms felt strangely cozy, with the lights dimmed, a warm glow softening the harsh colors of the furniture. Yiana's mind, exhausted from the past weeks, seized the opportunity for rest, falling asleep while reading, the book still in her hands.

It was hard to believe that this sophisticated, beautiful young woman, with her sharp green eyes, her short, slightly spiky black hair, and her quick wit, was the former leader of Zentai, and the current leader of the Y-Faction. It was hard to believe that the falls of the Kaitan Alliance and the infamous Team Rocket were her doing. And it was hard to believe that a woman of even her class and intelligence, could ever be capable of such brilliant achievements, nor capable of having taken that lives she had.

But it was true. Yiana Naventa was much more than met the eye. A complicated young woman, only about twenty-two years old, yet with the whole world practically at her feet.