Chapter 1. A/N: I was just randomly thinking 'hey, what if Ash started his pokémon journey with two gym leaders besides Brock and Misty?' Of course, my mind turned to Giovanni and Sabrina, and bam, this story was born. This story is going to be including elements from the anime, Pokémon Adventures manga, and the games. I guess I'm just kinda picking and choosing which rules to follow. Originally posted on fanfiction.net and ArchiveOfOurOwn. Viridian City was a quiet place. Nothing ever happened there, and that was exactly how Giovanni liked it. He ran a secret and delicate organization, and he wanted to keep it that way. Many people may have heard of Team Rocket, but they didn't really understand what they did. Terrorists, thieves, that was what the region thought that they were, and Giovanni was just fine with that. For as long as the police thought that they were searching for petty criminals, they wouldn't find him. Even if some of his lower agents were caught and questioned, they wouldn't be able to give away any vital information. Giovanni made sure that no individual agent was told about what the team's true intentions were until after they had made it far enough up the ranks and he knew they could be trusted. Giovanni kept a close eye on all of the operations in his organization. He handpicked each agent individually. He put careful thought in who was partnered with who. He kept close tabs on every movement that even the lowest of his agents made. He made sure that no city or territory was targeted any more than any of the others. Even his own city had been threatened or attacked a number of times, because otherwise somebody would get suspicious. Even so, Viridian City was one of the more peaceful places in the region. The civilians were kind and unsuspicious of each other, so much so that it could be considered a fault. None of them even considered the thought that the boss of the organization that they feared so badly was right under their noses. He was also slightly amused when a stranger came around, and they were immediately under suspicion by the police. Even when such a visitor was just a ten year old child. Giovanni liked to know the goings on in his organization, as well as his city. If anybody left or visited the city, Giovanni was aware of it. It was always a rare occurrence for anybody to visit from Pallet Town, let alone a trainer. And yet, if Giovanni's sources were to be believed, a young boy who had come to Viridian that day was a trainer from Pallet Town. One who had just a single pokémon. Giovani wouldn't have paid the boy any mind if it weren't for the exact pokémon that he had. A Pikachu. It wasn't a rare pokémon, but it certainly wasn't common. Not many trainers in Kanto were able to find one, let alone catch it. And Giovanni had a very reliable source that had told him that pikachus were very difficult to train. They were independent creatures, stubborn, and yet this ten year old comes around with a Pikachu in his arms. The boy and the pokémon were both injured, but from what Giovanni had heard, the boy cared dearly for the pikachu, and the small electric pokémon trusted him enough to be held. Giovanni didn't normally believe in forming a friendship bond with pokémon, but even he couldn't deny that some pokémon grew stronger when they trusted their trainers. The boy who had just arrived at Viridian was an inexperienced trainer, he had probably only started a few days ago, and yet his Pikachu trusted him completely. Giovanni didn't know how the boy had managed to earn the Pikachu's trust so quickly, and he intended to find out. After double checking that there was still some time before Jessie and James were supposed to hit the Pokémon Center, Giovanni made his way there to have a few words with this young stranger. He didn't often go to the Pokémon Center, he had access to his own pokémon healing facilities, after all. When Giovanni got there, he was surprised to see a young lady that he recognized storming towards the doors. "Misty, isn't this a pleasant surprise." Giovanni approached the young girl. "What are you doing all the way out here?" The young redhead's angry expression fell away to confusion. "I'm sorry, do I know you?" "Ah, sorry, allow me to introduce myself. My name is Giovanni. I'm the gym leader here in Viridian City." Giovanni would have offered his hand out to her, but she was carrying a ruined bike over her shoulders, and he didn't want to inconvenience her. "We may not know each other, but I've made a point to know who the other gym leaders are." It came in handy with his work. "If you don't mind me asking, what are you doing so far from Cerulean City?" Misty scowled. "I was trying to catch some water pokémon on the routes around here, but this...this...jerk stole my bike and completely wrecked it. I'm here to make him pay." Giovanni frowned slightly. She wanted retribution, understandable, but reckless, and useless. "What do you expect a boy to do to fix your bike?" "Well, uh," Misty blinked sheepishly before she huffed. "He should at least pay to replace it." "That would be fair." Giovanni agreed. "Except for the fact that he's a child. How do you expect him to pay you back?" "I...don't know." Misty admitted unhappily. "So, what, am I just supposed to let him get away with this?" Giovanni reached into his pockets and took out some money. "This should be enough for you to get a new bike and make up for your troubles." Giovanni offered the money to Misty. "I need to have some words with this boy. If you want, I'll say something to him about responsibility. However, I suggest you make your way home and forget about this boy." Misty didn't look happy about his request, but she didn't say a word. Giovanni had heard that she was stubborn and brash, but as a gym leader, Misty understood that she needed to show respect to her superiors. She had been given the means of replacing her bike much quicker than she would have if she insisted on doing things her way. Misty's pride was the only thing keeping her from accepting the money. Fortunately, the girl's good sense won out over her pride. Giovanni made a mental note of this. It might come in handy in the future. "Thank you." Misty muttered in a quiet voice as she put down her old bike and accepted Giovanni's money. "I'm not saying I forgive him, but I'll drop it, for now. And I'm not taking this as charity either. I'll pay you back when I can." "I know you will" Giovanni nodded. "You have a good head on your shoulders young lady. I look forward to seeing where your career goes in the future." He truly did. Misty smiled and held out her hand. "It was nice to meet you, Giovanni." She was both prideful and respectful. A powerful combination if balanced just right. "The pleasure was all mine." Giovanni shook her hand firmly. He then turned and entered the Pokémon Center while Misty started her journey back home. It didn't take long for Giovanni to find the boy that he was looking for. He was in the middle of a phone call with somebody. Giovanni was willing to wait a minute or two until the boy had finished, but his curiosity won out over his patience when he saw the boy pointing at the plaque on the wall that depicted four rare pokémon. Even from the other side of the room Giovanni could hear the boy excitedly announce how he had seen one of those pokémon. If what the boy was saying was true, then Giovanni most definitely needed to have a few words with him. A moment later the boy's phone call ended, leaving him looking dejected and disappointed. Giovanni saw his opportunity and took it. "Excuse me." Giovanni said to the boy. "I couldn't help but overhear what you were saying. Have you really seen that pokémon?" "Huh?" The boy turned towards Giovanni, and then glanced back at the plaque. "Yeah, I saw a giant golden bird flying right over the rainbow." "A golden bird?" Giovanni frowned. That couldn't be possible. The plaque that the boy had gestured to was a depiction of an Articuno. If he had gestured to the Zapdos, or even the Moltres, then he would have considered it a possibility. But a golden Articuno? "I'm telling the truth!" The boy exclaimed fiercely. "I saw a golden bird." Giovanni didn't know if he trusted the boy's words, but if the boy was lying, wouldn't he have claimed that the red or yellow plaque was his 'golden bird'? "I'm sure you believe that you did." Giovanni said. "However, I highly doubt it was that bird, as it is an exceptionally rare ice pokémon." The boy's expression fell, downcast. "You don't believe me either?" "I don't not believe you." Giovanni verified. "Perhaps if we had a little more to go off of?" The boy frowned thoughtfully. "It was...big? I don't know. I can't describe how it looked, but I'd recognize it if I saw it again." For most people, that would be a problem, but Giovanni was most certainly not 'most people'. "I have some information and pictures nearby that may help you to refresh your memory." The boy's expression brightened immediately. "Really? That would be awesome!" Giovanni appreciated the enthusiasm of youth. It made them much more cooperative. Just feed their fantasies and they were putty in your hand. A moment later though the boy's face fell again. "Wait, I can't go. I have to stay here. My Pikachu...he's hurt." The boy's voice was full of emotion. He was clearly attached to his pokémon. Giovanni despised sentimentality like this. Pokémon weren't pets, they were tools. A means to an end. Giovanni didn't necessarily mind that not everybody currently agreed with him, even his three best agents held some fondness for their own pokémon. What Giovanni absolutely hated was when pokémon fanatics got in the way of his goals. However, Giovanni doubt that this was one of those cases. The boy cared for his pokémon, but Giovanni knew how he could get around that. "I have my own healing facilities. If your pikachu means that much to you, we can take it with us to heal there while we look into this golden bird of yours." Giovanni suggested. "I don't know." The boy looked tempted, which was at least a step in the right direction. "He's pretty hurt." Giovanni grinned. "I assure you, I have access to technology that is just as good as they have here." With his resources, they were even better. As both a gym leader and the boss of team rocket, he needed his pokémon to be in prime shape at all times. "A-are you sure?" He was breaking the kid down. "Of course." At that point in time, Giovanni needed the kid to trust him, and he knew that it wasn't going to happen if he was caught in a lie after just a few minutes of telling it. "You're Pikachu will be just fine." "Well, if you're sure." The boy's excited grin was back. "Let's go!" With the boy convinced, it was only too easy to get the Pikachu. Nurse Joy wasn't pleased with the kid's decision, but the pokémon had already been healed from the worst, and she really didn't have a right to keep the Pikachu there when the kid wanted him back. Giovanni found an unexpected problem when they got the pokémon though. "What do you mean you won't put him in his pokéball?" "He doesn't like it." The boy held his pikachu close in his arms. "I can't just force him to do something that he hates." Giovanni sighed in frustration. This was the exact kind of sentiment that got in the way of his plans. "Do you have parents?" Giovanni didn't like doing this, but he had to appeal to the boy's better nature. Convince the kid to do something that he wanted by relating it to something that he could understand. "My mom." The boy looked confused by the question. "Has she ever given you medicine when you were sick?" Giovanni guessed. "Even when you didn't want it?" The kid lowered his head and looked at his pokémon, which was staring right back at him. "Yeah." He admitted reluctantly. "When you're responsible for somebody else, you have to do what's best for them." For the first time Giovanni was grateful that one of his higher ranked agents had a kid. Giovanni believed that his sentiment towards his daughter was making him soft, but he couldn't deny that the agent's advice on how to deal with kids was coming in handy. "Even if they don't like it." "...Does he have to be in his pokéball?" The boy asked. Giovanni had to keep himself from losing his temper. He didn't have the time to deal with this. "My machines require that a pokémon remains in their ball." It was the most effective way to heal a pokémon. The boy sighed and reached for the pokéballs that he kept at his belt. "I'm sorry, Pikachu." The boy muttered before he opened the ball and returned his pokémon. Finally, with that out of the way, they could get going. Giovanni's gym, which doubled as his base of operations for Team Rocket, wasn't far from the Pokémon Center, and the two of them were able to walk there within just a few minutes. Giovanni led the boy to the back rooms of the gym behind the main battling arena. After spending a few minutes turning on his healing machine and showing the kid how it worked, Giovanni brought out some of his books. "Alright, boy, let's see if we can figure out who your mystery pokémon is." Giovanni opened his first book of rare pokémon and turned to the flying/bird section. He knew that many of the pokémon in his books weren't confirmed to truly exist, but that was what made them rare. "...Boy?" The kid tilted his head in confusion. It was a moment before his eyes widened in realization. "Oh, I never introduced myself. Sorry." The kid rubbed the back of his neck in embarrassment before he offered out a hand. "I'm Ash Ketchum, from Pallet Town." "...Giovanni." The man wasn't all that fond of such pleasantries, but he could tolerate them. He shook Ash's hand. "Nice to meet you!" Ash said enthusiastically. "So, let's look at those books." Because Giovanni didn't want to influence Ash's memory, he backed off and left the boy alone as he looked at the pictures. There weren't very many legendary bird Pokémon, so Giovanni didn't expect it to take all that long. However, he was surprised just how quickly Ash exclaimed "I found it!" Giovanni quickly made his way back to the boy and looked over his shoulder. His eyes widened when he saw the pokémon that Ash was gesturing to. "Ho-Oh?" "Yeah, that's the golden pokémon that I saw." Ash said excitedly. Giovanni considered the plausibility. Ho-Oh was one of the legendary pokémon that was very likely to actually exist, though very, very rare. There were few reports of a Ho-Oh having been seen at all, and to Giovanni's knowledge nobody had actually had a run-in with the legendary bird before. Still, even though just the sighting of a legendary pokémon wasn't as good as an actual interaction with one, it was better than no contact at all. That is, if Ho-Oh was the pokémon that Ash had seen at all. Giovanni didn't think that Ash was lying, he certainly seemed earnest enough, but even though most legendary pokémon couldn't be mistaken for anything else, Ho-Oh was one of the exceptions. Giovanni grabbed another one of his books, one about non-rare pokémon. "Do you think it's possible that you saw this pokémon instead?" Giovanni pointed to a picture of a bird pokémon that, from far away, could be mistaken for a Ho-Oh. "A Fearow?" Ash frowned as he looked from one picture to the other. "I guess it could have been this." Ash admitted reluctantly before he turned to Giovanni with wide, determined eyes. "But this pokémon felt special." Giovanni didn't like to waste resources based solely on guesses and maybes, but he knew all too well that rare pokémon had a kind of aura about them that could actually be felt by humans. As silly as it seemed, the fact that Ash claimed that the pokémon felt special improved the chances of it actually being special. Still, Giovanni wanted to be sure. And, fortunately for him, he believed that he knew how to do just that. "I have a colleague in Saffron City who may be able to help us to know just what you saw." Giovanni said thoughtfully. She had a gift to be able to recognize unusual circumstances when they happened. If anybody would be able to tell just what Ash saw, it was her. "Really!?" Ash's eyes widened and he grinned hopefully. "Yes, really." Giovanni said as he collected his books and returned them to the shelf. "It will be a few hours before your Pikachu is back to full health, so we'll leave first thing in the morning." "Awesome!" Ash proclaimed excitedly. He was eager to go on an adventure. It had been a while since Giovanni had been around somebody so enthusiastic. Giovanni wasn't nearly as excited about the upcoming journey as Ash was. He wasn't exactly the adventuring type, but he knew that the kind of thing he wanted from his colleague was something that had to happen in person. Giovanni knew that he could just tell Ash who to talk to, but if the boy truly had seen a Ho-Oh, Giovanni felt like he wanted to be there for himself to get the news. Besides, it had been some time since he had gone on any journeys. It was certainly going to be an interesting experience, that was for sure.