3:28 AM; Saturday; Spring Secret Rocket Experimental Facility Site #12 Ilex Forest Johto Just outside of the small town of Azalea stands the Ilex Forest, a large, densely packed wilderness which serves as the gateway for young Trainers attempting to reach Goldenrod from Azalea. The path to Goldenrod is marked clearly so no one can get lost easily, and anyone passing through are always asked to pay respect at the shrine halfway down the Forest path, which has been erected for the Guardian of Ilex. Aside from some essential logging that is done with the highest respect to the forest surrounding them, no one dares venture too far into the wood, fearing the rage of the Guardian of Ilex. Naturally, this can make Ilex Forest prime real estate for anyone who seeks to hide from the masses and didn’t care about respecting the forest or its guardian, erecting a facility where many dark deeds can be performed with little to no threat of any outside interference. On this particular morning, however, an eerie silence has overtaken this normally active Team Rocket outpost. Many bodies covered the ground, both people and Pokémon, all having collapsed during their rudimentary work into their current state of unconsciousness. Even those Pokémon with Insomnia seemed affected by this, as if some strange spell had been cast over the building. And within the building’s main control room ignoring the unconscious bodies around him sat a man wearing a dark trench coat with a collar so high it covered his face and a matching fedora, casually flickering through the security cameras as if he was simply surfing channels on an ordinary television. The automatic door behind him suddenly swished open, and a smile formed on his face. “You know, it’s funny how easily one can upend an entire criminal enterprise with the help of one singular Pokémon.” On cue, a Magnemite floated over to him, and he stroke its metallic head before retrieving a Pokégear from one of its magnets. “With the help of the songstress Jigglypuff up in Goldenrod, naturally.” “The idea of using the Pokémon Lullaby broadcast and hooking it up to the speakers was ingenious, sir.” A woman's voice answered him from behind. The man nodded with an amused smile. “How is progress?” “Proceeding as planned. Most of the test subjects here have been transported safely away, but…” He turned to her, his smile fading back to a neutral expression, “Yes? Is there an issue?” The woman, who was currently wearing a grey hooded cloak that covered most of her body and face, turned back and frowned in disgust. “It appears that there were far more subjects than we anticipated. As I said, most have already been retrieved, but I know there are still several scattered within the building that we have not been able to reach just yet. At this rate, we may have to battle our way out in order to rescue them.” The man leaned back in the chair, sighing. “That would be troublesome. Our current strategy only works due to their lack of information on us. If that were to be compromised…” The two of them sat in silence for several minutes, before the man went back to the cameras and quickly switched through a few channels before finally stopping on a cryogenic tube where the shadow of one of these remaining test subjects was still being held, the small glow within likely indicating some kind of Fire type. His eyes lingered on this image a moment longer, before he made up his mind and begin rapidly typing in the keyboard in front of him. Upon hitting the enter key, he stood up and looked at the Magnemite and gave it a nod. It immediately fired a Thundershock at the control panel, frying the mainframe with. He then turned around and walked towards the door, telling the cloaked woman, “Make the final preparations. We’re leaving now.” Obviously surprised, the woman glanced at the screen and saw the tube had begun the process of thawing the contained subject. “Sir, what are you doing?” The man stopped and glanced back at her. “How long has it been since the creation of Mewtwo? Thirty years? Forty? More? Whatever the case, ever since the events on Cinnabar, we have been working diligently from the shadows to ensure nothing like this happens again, at least not in the public eye. However, time and again, Giovanni refuses to learn his lesson, and my patience with him and his entire organization has worn thin. It’s time for them to face what they have done, and bring their crimes against nature to the light.” “Sir, I don’t mean to be blunt, but are you really willing to put our entire operation at stake? Do you understand the kind of fallout this could bring?” the woman protested. The man gave a light chuckle, which only got the woman more angry. “This is not a laughing matter!” “I'm aware of that.” “Then why risk everything now?” The man gave a great sigh, one of a person with far too much weight on their shoulders. “Perhaps it’s simply that I believe it’s time for the world to know. We have fought so hard for far too long for the sake of those Pokémon. We know they deserve a chance at happiness, and this could finally be their chance to earn it for themselves.” “And that’s another thing, sir,” the woman interjected. “Is it truly wise to leave them here? Alone and defenseless, with no one to help them?” The man glances back at the feed, the thawing process for the tube nearly finishing and beginning to show signs of opening. “This is their fight. It’s not my place to earn their freedom for them. If our paths cross again, I can see how to lend my assistance then. But, for now, they have each other, and I believe that is enough.” The man said no more, walking out of the room with his Magnemite following close by, and with some hesitation, the woman followed after. As the door opened and she walked through, she gave one last look to the camera feed above the ruined command station. Her eyes locked on the screen of the pod now beginning to unseal, and silently gave a small prayer for their safety before the automatic doors finally closed behind her. ******************************************* The blinking light of the camera was the first thing to catch Auron’s attention, the Golduck’s blurry eyes finally fluttering open after having awoken once more to his hell of a life. He stumbled over his feet and grasped the edge of the opening, his clawed hand causing the glass to turn red from the intense heat he was accidentally giving off. However, it did not melt, which made sense considering this enclosure was made specifically with him in mind. As his eyesight cleared, he immediately noticed that the crowd of black uniformed men that usually surrounded him upon awakening was absent, with a lone scientist laying on the floor in a prone position. Just then, the man stirred and looked around. Upon seeing his panicked eyes and scramble to get away from him, Auron immediately understood this wasn’t a planned occurrence, and without a second thought, charged at the scientist and slammed him into the wall with a Fire Punch in the back. He was reaching for the alarm switch, but the impact caused him slump against the wall and fall back into unconsciousness. “If this is really my one shot, then I can’t have you giving me away just yet,” he said, jumping off and running to the door. “I’m getting out of here, today!” As he got to the door, he spotted a faded reflection of himself in the stainless-steel door, his blue upper body clashing with his yellow lower body with a bright flame glowing at the end of his tail. While it wasn’t the clearest look he has had of himself after arriving here, seeing this only added to his own desire and motivation, and he took off down the hall. Admittedly, he was unsure where the exit was in the building, but ready to fight for his life in order to make his escape however he can.