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  1. yingyang90

    yingyang90 Youngster

    Meowth
    (Meowth)
    Level 1
    Joined:
    Jan 2, 2018
    Posts:
    2
    PokéPoints:
    ₽208.5
    Meowth has been separated from Jessie and James in the Kalos region and is looking to rejoin them. Lost and alone Meowth must search for his friends with the help of Ash and company as they discover that there is more to Team Rocket than meets the eye. Meowth must look within itself if it ever wants to be reunited. Otherwise, it is doomed to stay lost forever...in more ways than one

    Table of Contents

    Chapter 1
    Author notes:

    At the beginning or end of each chapter, I will leave notes to what I am referencing to or what my inspiration was coming from.

    Strasbourg-a city in France that's on the Rhine. I changed it a bit to make it sound more "Pokemony"

    Pan- is the name of a Greek god, known for nature and the arts (theatrical specifically) his temples are usually in caves like Arcadia for example.

    Montes Jura-a Mountain range in France that is a part of the Alps. I couldn't come up with something creative enough here. But hopefully, you will see that since Kalos is based on France, my area of the region will be based on areas near the Rhine and the Alps…however when it comes to the climate or setting may be different than the actual thing.

    I originally came up with this idea years ago when I was still watching Pokémon. I always loved Meowth and always wanted to see its character brought out more due to its ability to talk. But alas it was degraded to a stupid comical relief character. I will get into more details as I go on with the story. I have been daydreaming about this story for years and due to recent events of a possible game called the sun and moon, a plot thread that has always been the main premise of my story finally forced me to write it all down. So here I am writing away.

    This story starts off with Ash heading for his last gym battle in Kalos. Another thing I know that there is a Z arc going on and I thought about adding it in but I honestly didn't see the room for it…consider the Z arc nonexistent or already completed. And keep in mind I officially stopped watching during the advanced generation…so most of what I write about the Kalos crew is just by seeing a few episodes once in a while and mostly reading about them on Wikipedia…and no I am not going to watch them just so they could seem more accurate, the show bugs me in more ways than one, granted while I appreciate the risks they are taking the animation and the current English voice casting are the 2 big reasons why I just can't…maybe it's my nostalgia goggles but to me, the show doesn't have enough heart as it used too. So in laymen's terms, they maybe to OC for some readers.


    Chapter 1: Lost and Found

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    "Sounds of water rippling through my body…"

    **Click, clack, click, clack, click, clack**

    "Are those footsteps…"

    Dripping water…darkness slowly being overtaken by the light of the sun to begin a new day, in what appears to be an alley somewhere unknown lied an unconscious cat-like creature "Ugh…what…happened…"

    **sniff, sniff**

    "Wha…" Slowly opening one's groggy eyes only to see a pair of piercing red eyes staring back.

    "WHOA…ooouuuch...my head" Meowth who was still slowly coming to, realizes that the red eyes staring at him belonged to a Furfrou. Still feeling groggy and in pain from whatever happened previously, Meowth was starting to get a better sense of what was around him as Furfrou continued to observe him.

    "Where am I?" asked Meowth as he was slowly standing up. Furfrou continued to stare at him for a moment before taking off.

    "Hey, where are you going…ow…my head" Meowth followed Furfrou only to lose sight of it after exiting the alley and entering into an area that was more populated with humans.

    "What happened, where am I…and where is everyone?"

    Seeing that it was all alone, Meowth begins to explore the area in search of its friends.

    "Looks like I'm in some big city." Taking in its surroundings of tall buildings, Meowth decides to explore some more thinking that it could find a map of some kind.

    "I know I'm still in the Kalos region….hmm I can smell water." Meowth follows the scent and finds that it belongs to a river that is bordering the city. Meowth starts to follow the river down to its harbor.

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    At the harbor, a crowd has circulated around a ship that just returned. The ship's crew just returned from an expedition that took place further out. The head of the expedition who looked to be in his late 20s with shaggy brown hair and rectangular glasses took to the stage. "Thank you, kind citizens, of Strasboro City…"

    "Strasboro City, BINGO!"

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    "My name is Dr. Pan. Thank you for showing great hospitality to my team. My team and I believed that when the flood hit this city over a 1,000 years ago, a Statue of Rina was lost somewhere here in the river. Due to long searches and following clues we were able to find it and bring it home." The man unveiled a small statue of a woman. It was damaged from the years of being in the water but the figure was still visible. The woman had a long heavy dress with her head down with one hand over her heart and the other seemed to be carrying what appeared to be a bundle of wheat.

    The man continued on with the details as Ash and his friends listened to the discovery. Pikachu, sitting on Ash's shoulder caught a familiar scent. Turning its head it saw an unwanted face.

    "Pika Pi" Ash looks at Pikachu "What is it Pikachu?" Pikachu points in the direction of none other than Meowth. "Meowth!?"

    "Huh, What is it, Ash?" Serena asked.

    Bonnie looks over, "Isn't that Meowth over there?"

    Clemont adds "It looks sort of lost, where do you suppose its friends are Ash?"

    "They must be nearby, they're probably here to steal the statue!"

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    "That statue looks worth stealing, I just got to find Jessie and James" Meowth walks through the crowd of people to return to its search. "I wonder where they could be?" Feeling a tap on its shoulder Meowth turns to see the Furfrou from before.

    "Oh, it's you! Could you help me? I'm looking for my friends." Furfrou tilts its head with a smile and motions for Meowth to follow it. Unfortunately, for Ash and the gang, they lost sight of Meowth due to the large crowd that was standing around, getting through fast enough was nearly impossible.

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    "Now if anyone has any questions about our findings please feel free to come up and ask!"

    The kids' attentions were drawn back to the researcher on the stage. Clemont ran up to get a closer look at the statue with the others right behind him.

    "Hello, young man! Do you have any questions for me? " Said an eagerly excited professor.

    "Hello Dr. Pan, my name is Clemont, this is my sister Bonnie and my friends Ash and Serena."

    "Well let me start by telling you kids that this particular statue is said to be a small replica of a much larger one hidden somewhere within the mountains of Montes Jura."

    "So who is this statue supposed to be, it looks like a woman," Bonnie asks.

    "Yes, it's a statue of a priestess, this part is a bit damaged but you can see she is carrying what looks like a bundle of wheat. According to ancient texts wheat is meant as a sign of love and prosperity. See how she has her hand over her heart. Throughout my findings I have come across similar stories over and over again, my hypothesis is that the Statue of Rina is somehow connected to them."

    "What kind of stories?" Ash asks. "Pika"

    "Stories that are usually about two great figures coming together overcoming great obstacles. Back then most stories weren't told through written text but by retelling a story to the next generation. Because of this, it's difficult for us archeologists to find any full documentation about old stories. We are only left with small clues or different details about a particular story that may have changed over time. While others are lost forever." Dr. Pan sounded somber as he softly spoke the word "forever".

    "However," he quickly became super upbeat again, "That just makes the job more exciting. It's like solving the world's biggest puzzle."

    "Wow, that sounds amazing!" Ash exclaims while everyone agrees in unison.

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    At the Pokémon Center, the group was soundly asleep after getting all of their Pokémon Center needs for the trip ahead next morning. It was late that evening when sirens started going off. The police were storming the streets of Strasboro City with Officer Jenny in the lead. Tired and cranky for being woken up too early, the gang followed the commotion to the harbor where Dr. Pan was crying like a blubbering child, far from the upbeat character they met before.

    "Oh Officer Jenny, my prized possession is gone! Someone stole it from me!" He said as he was crying and blowing his nose with a big white handkerchief.

    "Officer Jenny it was Team Rocket, we saw them here earlier during the unveiling!"

    "But Ash we only saw Meowth." Clemont clarified.

    "What difference does it make! Meowth is just as bad. I am positive that Team Rocket is behind this."

    "Well, Ash if your gut is saying it's Team Rocket I believe you." Officer Jenny continues, "That's the best lead we've got right now. Everyone, I want the whole city blocked off. No one leaves or enters until we catch those thieves!"

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    Meanwhile, unaware of the events happening at the docks, Meowth was still wandering around aimlessly through a deserted shopping district trying to figure out what happened previously.

    "Ugh…I can't find them anywhere, maybe I should try the next town. I know I am in Strasboro City but where is that exactly? If only I had a map"…sighs as it slouches "I want to give up…I'm so tired and that stupid dog ditched me again."

    "Stop right there Meowth!" Meowth straightens up quickly slowly turning around to see none other than the twerp with an angry Pikachu on his shoulder. Scratch that, they both looked angry…in fact, all the twerps looked pretty steamed.

    "Oh boy, not exactly the faces I wanted to see. Why are they all looking at me like that?"

    "Where is it!?" Ash demands.

    "Nya, Nya" Meowth meows nervously.

    "Don't play dumb! The statue! Where is the Statue!?"

    Clemont intervenes seeing Ash's intense integration was getting them nowhere. "Meowth, where are your friends? Please show us where they are."

    "Oh, you want Jessie and James…they're up there behind you."

    Everyone turns around expecting to see a hot air balloon but saw…nothing and Meowth was gone. Meowth laughs to itself while running.

    "Nothing beats a classic!"

    Fleeing the scene at a super fast pace, Meowth runs into the Furfrou again. "It's you! Please, you got to help me out of this city!"

    "Fur, Fur!" (Follow me!) barks Furfrou. Running through the city Furfrou leads Meowth to the real culprit. Covered in all black, Meowth sees the thief holding the statue in his hands.

    Not really caring about this fact Meowth asks "Hey can you tell me what cities are near here or better yet do you have a map I could use?"

    "Huh…a talking Meowth! Incredible! How would you like to join my team?"

    "What, No way! I'm already on a team known as Team Rocket. You can carry on with what you're doing just answer my question so we can both be on our merry way."

    "I was only asking to be nice." The crook pulls out a Poké Ball.

    Meowth freezes for a moment, then looks up at what is behind the thief and points speaking with an awestruck voice "Whoa…is that what I think it is?" The thief turns to see what Meowth was looking at but saw…nothing.

    "Ha, Ha! I'm two for two!"

    Not realizing it, Meowth was running back in the direction he came from. The thief was hot on its trail.

    "I've got you now!" Throwing his Poké Ball "Spinarak, use string shot to tie that Meowth up!"

    The Spinarak sprayed string shot binding Meowth's arms to its torso. Struggling to break free before a Poké Ball is thrown at him the gang finally reach the scene.

    "Stop right there, you are under arrest!" Officer Jenny demands.

    "Look Ash that guy took the statue. Team Rocket had nothing to do with it." Clemont stated.

    Bonnie runs up to Meowth seeing it's tangled by the string shot. She tries to rip it off but can't do it. Serena comes over trying to help and calls out Braixen to use a scratch attack on the string shot. This created a hole thus making it easier to pull off. The thief in a panic orders Spinarak to use Night Shade against Officer Jenny and the other cops. Ash steps in and orders Pikachu to Thunderbolt him and the Spinarak, bringing this chase to an end. While everyone was preoccupied Meowth spotted the Furfrou from before and followed it away from the scene.

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    The sun begins to rise and Meowth was ready to leave this city. Meowth turns to Furfrou with gratification in its eyes and a soft grin, "Thank you, for all your help. I really appreciate it." bowing its head lightly.

    "Meowth! Wait up!" Bonnie yells.

    Meowth's soft smile quickly disappears with dread "Oh, no not this again, when will this nightmare end?"

    Catching up to Meowth, Clemont begins to say, "Sorry for the way we ganged up on you earlier."

    "Who's your friend Meowth?" Serena asks.

    "This Furfrou was just helping me find my way around."

    Ash cuts in asking, "Speaking of friends where are they, Jessie and James?"

    Meowth looks to Furfrou and Furfrou just barks a goodbye and runs back into the city. The gang watches Furfrou run off "Pika Pi!" Pikachu yells pointing to a fleeing Meowth.

    "Hey wait for us!" they all shouted.

    "Oh, how I wish I was blasted off…"
    Chapter 2
    Author's note:
    When I write Pika Pi I am trusting that you the reader knows who's talking…so I will be doing that with the Pokémon most of the time without expressing "Pikachu said etc." unless it's necessary. And I am not going to write the accent in for that is just too hard and time-consuming…just use your imagination if you must.


    Chapter 2: A Separate Situation

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    Imagine a path with nothing but green meadows with wildflowers sprinkled across the terrain and tall trees surrounding them. The sound of the river fills your ears…total bliss…does not exist for a certain Meowth. Instead of being able to enjoy a beautiful scenic walk, it's getting bombarded with a one-way game of 20 questions as they were walking.

    "How did you end up in Strasboro City?" asked Serena.

    "I told you I don't remember." Answers an aggravated Meowth.

    "You mean, you don't remember a thing?" Serena continued.

    "Yes, I woke up in an alley with my head hurting for a bit. Then I started to look for Jessie and James, but there was no sign of them."

    "Sounds like you were abandoned." Bonnie piped in. "De, De"

    "I wasn't abandoned we just got separated. They are most likely at the place where we agreed to meet if a situation like this ever occurred."

    Ash asks, "Where is that?"

    "None of your business."

    "You better not try anything funny," Ash warns.

    Meowth mumbles "Your face is funny."

    "What was that…" "Pika!"

    "It's not like I asked you to come with me."

    "But it seems we're headed in the same direction. Do you seriously prefer to travel alone? Wouldn't it be dangerous?" Serena inquires.

    Meowth stops and points to itself with confidence and eyes filled with determination. "We Rockets always know what to do. We can do anything."

    "UGH…" everyone grumbles in unison.

    "Except for winning." Bonnie points out, causing Meowth to do an anime fall and the rest started to snicker.

    "Prove it!" Meowth turns to Ash "Prove it; let's have a battle!"

    "No way, I can't battle! I can't do any moves since I can talk."

    "So it would be best for you to stick with us," Bonnie says smugly. Feeling outsmarted Meowth's face puffs up with a "whatever" rolling off the tongue.

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    One of the twerps suggested to take a break and letting out all of their Pokémon for some lunch. Much to Meowth's dismay, it tries to continue walking as a halfhearted attempt to get away.

    "What is your problem?" Ash asks with a slight demand in his voice. Meowth looks over to the twerp as he continues. "You weren't like this at all when you were traveling with me in Unova."

    "That was different. I was scamming you, twerps." Ash ticked off by that comment, "Pika…"

    "Here's your lunch, Ash." Serena interrupts him. "And this is for you, Meowth." Meowth eyes the bowl placed in front of it. The contents were simple. Pokéchow that smelled slightly better than cheaper brands. Meowth averted its eyes as it got up to walk to a nearby tree.

    "Hmm…Unova I remember that mission, and it was the hardest one I have ever done. Having to kiss up to them, saying how great they are so I could earn their trust, and not to mention how boring they were. Then again, they are genuinely nice people. When it comes down to it, they would help me out if we worked together. However, I am technically a wild Pokémon, and I am alone this time. At this rate, who knows how long it will be until I rejoin Jessie and James. Maybe I could somehow get them to make a promise about not capturing me."

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    As the kids were eating their lunch, they observed that Meowth was sitting by itself in a tree nearby the campsite with its back turned against everyone. "Clemont, do you think we could somehow convince Meowth to leave Team Rocket for good?" Bonnie asked her brother with hope in her eyes.

    "I think it all depends on whether or not the other members of Team Rocket show up. They may be nearby waiting, or it may be a long time till we run into them. It technically is a wild Pokémon, so one of us could catch it."

    "You're wasting your time…" Ash interjects, "Meowth is just as bad as the rest of Team Rocket. I, too, thought that Meowth could change back when we were in Unova, but it was a trick the whole time."

    "But Ash, Pokémon only act that way when humans promote that sort of behavior. If we showed it what it's like to be good in a proper way, it could change for the better." Clemont said with a voice of reason.

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    Meowth was sitting on a high branch that was facing away from the group. Leaning its back against the trunk, eyes closed and ears twitching…"Do they seriously believe I can't hear them."

    Sighing with frustration, Meowth starts to feel the heaviness of its own eyelids. Suddenly, it begins to hear rustling within the trees. Opening its eyes to see what was making that sound exactly, Meowth was greeted with a few unfriendly faces. Greninja, Talonflame, Hawlucha, and Noivern were perched up in the trees surrounding Meowth with glares that could put the toughest Ursaring to shame. At the bottom of the trees were the other Pokémon eying the scratch cat Pokémon. Meowth uncomfortably looks around at his surrounding adversaries as he slowly gets up.

    "I'm obviously not welcome here. I guess I will have to look for another place to take my catnap." Thankfully the Pokémon were called back for it was time to pack up and get on their merry way.

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    Meowth was watching as the Pokémon helped their trainers pack up camp as he drifted off into his thoughts. He was then smacked in the face by Hawlucha's wing for not helping. Greninja jumps in literally for its own opportunity by shoving dishes into Meowth's paws with an order to go clean them up. Taken back with a dumbfounded expression on his face, Meowth observed the dirty dishes. It was for a moment, then as if a light seemed to flicker within his eyes, Meowth raises the dishes above his head to throw them with all his might into the oversized Pokémon's faces. The sound of plates breaking echoed, gaining everyone's attention. As Greninja and Hawlucha were about to pounce on the tiny fur ball, Ash and Serena ran over to intervene.

    "STOP!" Serena shouts. Ash takes one look at the situation before glaring towards Meowth.

    "Ok, enough! Are you going to tell us what's really going on?" Meowth stares at Ash with a blank stare. "You're obviously up to something…waking up and not remembering a thing? My Pokémon are not buying it, and neither am I."

    "Well, I guess it would be hard for me to believe it too, but it's the truth. I get it that you all don't like having me around. So let's just go our separate ways." Meowth calmly suggested as it started to walk away.

    "No, no, no, it's not like that." Clemont rushed to stop it from leaving as Bonnie joined his side.

    "Yay, we like having you around," Bonnie said. "We just don't trust you." She added as the others tensed up due to such bluntness. However, the feeling quickly rolled off their shoulders as if a weight was lifted off now that the truth was out in the open.

    Meowth arched an eyebrow as it placed a paw on its hip. "I'm leaving." It declared.

    "Wait!" Ash exclaimed suddenly.

    As Meowth turned to him, the twerp remained silent. Meowth observed the twerp briefly, he was a lot calmer compared to before. Everyone including the Pokémon were focused on him. At first, it seemed like the twerp wanted to say something. Meowth saw the look in his eyes, and it knew that look, they all had it. Meowth was used to it as he turned away, not wanting to face their judging eyes any longer. He took a deep breath then sighed to calm himself. He took a moment to rethink his options.

    "It would be boring to travel alone too."

    "I don't know what will happen next," Meowth mumbled softly, "For the time being I would like it if we stopped fighting and put our differences aside. We have done it before."

    "That would be for the best." Serena concurred as Clemont and Bonnie nodded in agreement. The three then turned to Ash. He remained indifferent as he stood tall with his arms folded across his chest as Pikachu sat on his shoulder. Pikachu remained fixated on the scratch cat Pokémon, holding onto Ash tightly as its tiny nose flared up in detest. As his arms were folded with a few fingers tapping his upper arm, Ash took a deep breath then exhaled.

    "Are you sure you don't remember anything? Not even a little?" He asked, emotionlessly.

    "I'm trying to remember but it's hard," Meowth replied then sat down in its place. It sat like a human with its legs crossed and its arms folded in front of its chest as it looked up at the cloudless, blue sky. Meowth then looked at his surroundings, past the quizzical humans and Pokémon he looked towards the spot where the table they were using once was. Staring intently at the place that was now a bare meadow, Meowth grew silent as its posture became relaxed.

    After a few moments have passed. "We were talking, I think," Meowth whispered to itself. "It was about an event that was coming up." It said slightly louder. "Maybe...about a week ago." It spoke softly again.

    "Event?" Clemont asks. "What kind of an event?"

    Meowth winced slightly as it placed a paw over its eye to rub its head as it felt the pain resurfacing.

    "For Team Rocket?" It said with uncertainty. "I don't remember anything else."

    "Sounds like you had a traumatic experience. It was so traumatic that your mind forced itself to shut down, causing you to have amnesia." Clemont continues, "We should have taken you to the Pokémon Center while we were still in Strasboro City."

    "But I feel fine." It said as it quickly bounced back up.

    "Head injuries are no laughing matter." Clemont chastised "Didn't you mention that your head was hurting when you woke up? You might have a concussion. Let's head back to Strasboro City. There's not going to be a Pokémon Center for a while."

    Meowth glares at them and says bitterly, "I told you that I'm fine. There's no way I am turning back now. So if you're all done, I'd like to stop wasting time and get going."

    "Watch the attitude! When you are traveling with us, you are to behave yourself." Ash snaps.

    "Behave Myself?! You're the ones forcing me to travel with you and are constantly interrogating me." Meowth spats out angrily.

    Suddenly super fast needles came flying towards the group. It was poison sting from a group of Drapion, and they were ready to attack again.

    "Draa Draa…pion" The Drapion attacked with another poison sting, this time with more force. The Drapion closed in on the group. Some used bug bite while others used poison fang. Some of the Skorupi in the gang continued to shoot poison sting from afar. With the attacks coming in from all directions the group was forced to flee.

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    Meowth ran the minute the first poison sting flew. After running a couple of miles away from the scene, Meowth took a minute to catch its breath, Meowth then noticed it was alone away from the twerps.

    "That's one way to get rid of them…whoa, I feel dizzy all of a sudden."

    On his side just above the joint of his hind leg, Meowth saw that a poison sting grazed him.

    "That explains it…at least it's not in an area that would prevent me from walking. I should look for a Pecha berry before it gets worse." As luck would have it, Pancham abruptly ran into him, causing both of them to collapse. Soon after that, Ash came running through tripping over the small Pokémon.

    "So much for getting away." Meowth thought as he was shaking off the recent collusion.

    "Where is everyone?" Ash noticed that Pikachu and everyone else were not with them. Looking up, Ash saw Hawlucha flying around and asked it to search for the rest of the gang.

    Ash stands up, "Let's follow Hawlucha." He said.

    Ash and Pancham started to follow Hawlucha while Meowth, who was right behind them refrained from following them so willingly. Meowth sighs inwardly with frustration as it reluctantly starts to join them. As they were walking through the forest looking for their friends, they saw some rustling in the bushes. Ash ran up to them thinking it was Pikachu inside only to find a pair of Parasect. By alarming them, they sprayed stun pore into Ash's face. He fell to his knees, paralyzed as the Parasect came out ready to battle the other two. The Parasect used stun spore again but this time hitting Pancham who was able to dodge most of it.

    "Parasect…Para, Para, Par…Parasect" (This is our spot! Go get your own.)

    "We weren't trying to take your spot. We were attacked by the Drapion in the meadow over there." Meowth explained as he pointed in the direction. "Could you point me into the direction that the humans normally take?"

    "Para, Para, Parasect, Parasect, Parasect, Par."

    "That's good to know." Meowth begins to walk off but is stopped by a slightly weak Pancham.

    "Pan, Pancham, Pan." Pancham points to a motionless Ash lying on the ground. "Pancham, Pan, Pan, Pancham." (You can't just abandon us like this.)

    "Have you forgotten? I'm a member of Team Rocket, not a friend. Help him yourself!" Meowth continues to walk away.

    "Ugh…can't…mo…ve…mu…st…fi" Pancham runs to Ash's side. "Pancham." It said sadly.

    Meowth looks over his shoulder only to see a pathetic twerp trying to fight off the effects of stun spore.

    "Nope, not my problem." He thought as he prepared to continue but felt the joints in his legs stiffen as his heart grew heavy. Meowth took another glance at the twerp who was quivering on the ground due to the effects of Parasect's strong stun spore. Meowth adverted his eyes looking to the ground. Not feeling so well himself, Meowth turns to the Parasect.

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    "You didn't have to come along," Meowth tells a slow walking Pancham. Meowth indulged himself in the abundance of different smells within the forest. His ears twitched to the sounds surrounding them. He heard them, the native Pokémon in the forest along with getting acquainted with their scents. It wasn't long till they found the Cherri berries.

    "We just need a few. You should eat some too." Meowth hands over Pancham, a bundle. Pancham eats a paw full only to be hit with the spicy flavor Cherri berries offer.

    "Pan, Pan, Pan, Pancham!" (You could have warned me!) Pancham shouts at Meowth.

    "You feel better now, don't you?" Meowth spots a Pecha berry in the corner of his eye. He leaves Pancham for a moment to get it.

    "Pancham, Pan?" (Why do you need that?) Ignoring the question, he almost grabs on to the Pecha berry.

    "PINSIR!" A wild Pinsir jumps out from behind the Pecha berry causing the two to run with what they had.

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    "u…m..m..ca..n..t"

    "Para, Parasect?"

    "It was easy like you said. I was able to catch the scent once we passed the Beedrill's territory." Meowth said as he walked over to the weak twerp.

    "Twerp, eat this." Meowth popped a paw full of berries into Ash's mouth.

    "AHHH…HOT, SO HOT!" Holding his cheeks due to the burning sensation the berries were giving.

    Ash glares at Meowth, "You could have warned me!" Ash shouted.

    "It's practically common knowledge that Cherri berries cure paralysis due to their spicy flavor. It's not my fault you're stupid." Meowth said cooly then paused to look at the helpful berries.

    "You know," Meowth started lightheartedly, "For a tiny berry it packs a huge punch, but if you stick with it long enough you can reach its sweet spot underneath all its spicy attitude." Meowth pops one in letting the spiciness take effect but soon after that he was welcomed with sweet nectar for sticking with it…"YUMMY!"

    Ash and Pancham observe Meowth then turn to the leftover berries. They each take one for themselves to see.

    "Whoa, your right…ha!"

    "Pancham!"

    "Was Meowth hit too?" Ash watched as Meowth ate the remaining few.

    "Haaawww"

    They looked up to see Hawlucha circling them. They followed it out and were back on the walking trail where Clemont and some of the other Pokémon were. Not long after Serena, Bonnie, and Pikachu were coming out as well. "Pika Pi!"

    "Pikachu! I missed you, buddy! Ha, Ha!" Ash continues to laugh as he hugs his best friend.

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    "Were you guys attacked again?" Clemont asked. "After the Drapion we were attacked by Ariadous."

    Meowth interjects "That's because this forest has been divided up by the bug Pokémon here. The meadow we were in is considered the best spot in the forest and the bugs take turns using it. The Parasect told me that a lot of newborns are born during this time of year. The Drapion were probably taking their kids out for the first time and were being overprotective."

    Clemont recalling the event "Now that you mention it, I do remember seeing smaller Skorupi that were not fighting us. It's a good thing that you are here to explain."

    "Yeah, it is a good thing that you're here." Ash continues, "I'm sorry for the way I acted before."

    "I don't mind it twerp; it's not like we're friends in the first place."

    "Meowth," Ash paused. "I just want to say thank you…you know for helping me out back there." A faint smile appeared before it quickly vanished as Meowth breaks eye contact, folding its arms across its chest like a human.

    "Don't mention it" Meowth said nicely before glaring briefly, "Ever." It said in a dark tone. In the corner of Meowth's eye, a ripe Pecha berry was up for grabs.

    "Meowth…" Ash called for Meowth's attention again. "Do you think we could start over? Can we work together?" Meowth quietly looked up at Ash as if it were thinking long and hard on an answer.

    "Yes we can, but it won't be for long," Meowth says calmly and continues in a calm voice. "Facts are facts, I am in Team Rocket, and I will rejoin them. We can travel together for now, but you must remember its only temporary. With that said, I will make a promise to you." As a gleam of light seemed to flicker in its eyes, Meowth puts its right paw over its heart and reaches out with an open left paw.

    "During our time together, if you promise not to try to capture me by using any type of Poké Ball, I promise not to cause any Rocket mischief while we are traveling together in return."

    Ash stares at Meowth for a brief moment and smiles gently. "Deal!" He exclaims.

    Ash bends down and attempts to pet Meowth, but he is quickly batted away by its left paw.

    "Just remember your part of the deal. Do not even try to throw any type of Poké Ball in my direction." Meowth said annoyingly. Ash rubbed his unscratched hand as he continued to observe Meowth's narrowed eyes soften. A soft chuckle escapes him as he stands tall with Pikachu holding tight onto his shoulder.

    As everyone started calling his or her Pokémon back to their poke balls, Meowth quickly moves toward the Pecha berry while trying to not bring any attention to himself. The numbness near the inflicted area was growing as he slowly reached out to grab it. However, Pancham beats him to it. Looking disappointed at Pancham, Pancham's glare softens as it happily hands the berry over with a smile.

    "Pancham time to return."

    "Pan, Pan Pancham!" it said as the red light absorbed it back into its Poké Ball. Watching the red light return to the Poké Ball in Serena's hand, Meowth takes a bite of the Pecha berry…

    "…Friend, you say?"

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    Author's note:

    To clarify Pancham said, "Thank you, friend!" I know that the way this storyline is coming of cliché but that's not my intention…I'm not going to spoil my own story so you will just have to keep reading.

    I didn't go into who was separated with whom for a reason and that is to keep this story on the main focus and that is Meowth. I don't know the other characters well enough except for Ash and Meowth…while in this story I know they both may come off to OC…but really I am going off of what I remember Ash being like in the original-advanced series and that's being a hot head. From what I have seen in the like maybe 2 episodes of the latest series I guess he doesn't seem like that anymore…but I could be wrong. As for Meowth I know the series took away any redeeming qualities that this character could have had. It had so much potential in my book they just squashed it into a complete idiot. I was a kid when I saw the episode where they showed how Meowth learned how to talk and even when I was a kid I was like wow its really smart hoping they would dive deeper into that…but alas we got what we got. So as for Meowth I am trying to revive the old one from the original series…the first season when it was tougher and had a harsher view on life but as a Pokémon is capable of showing "good nature" qualities when given the chance.

    Chapter 3
    Lyonnais town-based of the city called Lyon/Lyons. The word Lyonnais is what the citizens are called. This city is also located on the Rhine…or Rhone since this is the French side.

    Chapter 3: School Days

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    "How much longer till we get to Snowbelle City?" Bonnie whined.

    "We have to continue following this river which will take us through Montes Jura. After that, we should be near Snowbelle City." Clemont explained.

    "I can't wait!" Ash exclaimed "My last gym battle, and then we're off to the championship, right Pikachu." "Pikachu!"

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    The vision of Lyonnais Town in the distance was a lucky site to behold for the gang. Sleeping in a real bed after a few days camping outside was something they all needed. As they began their search for an affordable Inn that allowed Pokémon, the group noticed preschool-aged children walking in pairs.

    "Must be a school field trip," Serena suggested blushing as she remembered hers with Ash when they were little kids.

    The small children were gathering near the grassy bank of the low tide river. Bonnie begins to walk closer to the group of children. Whether it was a field trip or not, they seemed like they were having fun. The children were running around as if they were chasing each other in a game of tag. One little boy suddenly bumps into her.

    "Oh, sorry about that." Bonnie quickly responded as Dedenne crawled up her arm to the top of her head. "De, Dedenne." It mimicked her.

    The black-haired boy who was wearing a red shirt and cap shook off the sudden impact. His brown eyes lifted upward then widen. He quickly started to back away from Bonnie as he muttered in a shaken up voice.

    "No…I…, I'm…sorry." He dashed off.

    "That was weird, right?" She eyed her friend. "Dede, De."

    "Excuse me, are you Pokémon trainers?" A young woman with light brown hair and blue eyes came walking up to them.

    "Yes, ma'am, we are." Ash answers.

    "That's great! My name is Ms. Holly; I am the teacher of this class. We are out here to make comparisons of how Pokémon act in the wild compared to trained Pokémon. Do you think my students could see your Pokémon?"

    "What do you think everyone?" Ash asked.

    "We'd love to teach young students about Pokémon!" Clemont stated with excitement.

    "You do that's great, so do I! That's the whole reason why I became a teacher."

    "Is it now? My brother is single. Marry him! With my brother's nerdy quirks and your irresistible charm, you can teach children all around the world about Pokémon together."

    "Bonnie, Stop!" Clemont shouted as he pulled her away.

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    They gathered all of the kids near the river's edge just outside of town to show off all their Pokémon. The kids excitedly gathered around Pikachu, Braixen, Bunnelby, and Noivern just to name a few. They were petting them and asking the trainers all sorts of questions about their Pokémon. Meowth grumbled to itself as it watched everything unfold. Frustrated with the new obstacle that has presented itself and tired from all the recent events. As the giant Pokémon were gaining all the attention, Meowth quietly slides away. He heads for the town to get away from it all. Walking towards the bridge that crosses into town, two little hands latch onto the cat's tail.

    "No one touches the tail." It wasn't a hard tug, but still, Meowth quickly turned around coming face to face with a little boy with blonde hair and blue eyes.

    "LET GO of me!" Meowth demanded as he swatted the boy's hands away without scratching him. The kid stared at him in shock, as did the other kids.

    "Cool! A talking Meowth!" the boy exclaims. Nervously realizing what was happening, Meowth was suddenly surrounded by all the kids leaving all the other Pokémon kidless.

    "You're sooo cute!"

    "Say my name! Say my name!"

    "No, say my name!"

    "No, mine!"

    "No, mine!"

    "What's a Pokémon's favorite color!"

    "Do you like being in a Poké Ball?"

    "Oooouuu can I give you a belly rub, my mom's Purugly just loves belly rubs!"

    "What can…"

    "How did you…"

    "Can you…"​

    "These kids are worse than the twerps!"

    "Would you brats SHUT UP!" Silence filled the air.

    "MEOWTH!" Ash yelled.

    "How could any Pokémon enjoy something like this? You're all giving me a headache…go annoy someone else!"

    "MEOWTH!" Ash yells again. "Apologize!" "PIKACHU!"

    "You get headaches, Meowth?" Clemont questioned enthusiastically, pulling out one of his strange devices with a screen on it. Clemont starts jumping around Meowth, pointing the contraption in its direction.

    "You must have really strong brainwaves. Getting headaches plus your ability to talk…do you have a headache right now? You could probably u…"

    "UUUUGGGHHH….QUIT IT!"

    **Ka-boom**

    Clemont's machine suddenly malfunctions.

    "I am sick in tired of you twerps always wasting my time…I…AM...Out of Here!"

    Furious with Meowth's behavior, Ash hollers "HEY! You're not going anywhere!"

    "OH…Yes, I am! I don't belong to you! I am not one of you're brainless pets that you can boss around." If the glares from the Pokémon didn't scare Meowth before…they should now.

    "I am a proud member of Team Rocket the greatest organization there ever was and if you don't like it…BITE ME!" Out of anger, Meowth pushed off the ground to take a giant leap over the bridge, making a perfect landing on the other side. While the distance was not too big, it still left everyone impressed for about two seconds.

    "LATER TWERPS!" Meowth screams out from the other side, then hightails it into town.

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    "Okay class," Ms. Holly begins to retain the children's attention.

    "There is nothing more to see here. Time to step away from the river's edge, the water level is getting too high." The kids happily followed Ms. Holly's instructions as she glances up at the clear blue sky.

    "Hm…I don't think the forecast said anything about storms for today."

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    The sound of a teapot was going off somewhere…

    "WHY THAT LITTLE…" Ash growled as if volcanoes erupted behind him. "IF THAT'S HOW IT'S GOING TO BE THEN FINE! Talonflame, Hawlucha, Noivern: Go find it!" Ash then mumbled to himself quietly. "We're going to have a little target practice."

    "Ash your sort of scaring me," Serena spoke nervously. "Maybe you should calm…"

    "I AM CALM!" Ash snapped. "Meowth just needs a little lesson, that's all." He said deviously before turning his attention onto the students. With a smile and an uplifting voice, he asked, "Would you kids like to see how a great trainer like me catches a Pokémon?"

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    Fuming as it stomped along the sidewalk, Meowth was alone wondering through Lyonnais Town. "I just want to be back with Team Rocket! Why is that so hard to understand?"

    Meowth stops walking, taking in the headcount of there being no twerps. "Wait, what am I doing? I don't need to wait for them. That settles it, I'm leaving…"

    Meowth picked up his pace with the new goal in mind. Meowth's lack of attention caused him to bump into someone.

    "EH!" Meowth heard a high pitched sound and saw that he bumped into one of the boys from the field trip.

    "Ehhhh….Sorry!" The boy said nervously, averting his eyes.

    "It's the same kid that bumped into the mini twerp." Observing the fidgeting black haired boy, "tch…great…a smaller version of the stupid twerp. He looks just like him." Meowth thought as he took in the boy's features. The boy's black hair was covered with a solid red cap and had dark brown eyes with a similar skin tone to the twerp.

    "Listen, Kid, I don't want to play with you right now, so beat it," Meowth said calmly in a not so friendly tone. Meowth turned away to resume his plan.

    "Uhm…I uh…" Meowth looks over his shoulder, detecting the boy's nervousness.

    "OH…I see…" Meowth returns to the kid's side to zoom in for a better look, making the boy cower. "You're afraid of Pokémon. I've heard that there were a few humans out there like that, but I never met one before." Fascinated by this discovery, Meowth's recent anger and plan to take off vanished.

    "Uhm…do you think…I could walk…with you?" The boy asked nervously. Meowth seemed to have a twinkle in its eye due to this request.

    "Hmm…are you sure you can handle it. I can be reeeeaaally scary." Meowth said while trying to contain a giggle.

    "BOO!" Meowth shouted unexpectedly as he pushed the boy down, causing the boy to fall backward.

    "AH!" The boy cries out as Meowth laughs at the boy's expense.

    Getting back on his feet, "Yes…I'm sure. I figured since you can talk, maybe I could overcome my fears."

    Meowth stops laughing, seeing that the boy was determined it considered the request. "Well, I guess you could show me around town."

    The boy's eyes light up with glee, "Sooo…can I call you, Meowth?" With a small smile, Meowth nods.

    "My name is Rider, but everyone calls me Red since red is my favorite color."

    "Hello Red," Meowth chirped.

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    Ash was stomping his feet as he paced back and forth on the bank of the river as he waited for his Pokémon to return.

    "Ash, have you completely lost it!" Serena asked with unease.

    "We made a deal." Clemont chimed in.

    "I Know That!"

    Clemont continues, "It's been a long day for all of us. I'm sure after a good night's rest, we can all move forward tomorrow on a more positive note."

    "Okay, kids gather round." Ms. Holly speaks up.

    "Is everyone here and accounted for? We are heading back to the school now." Ms. Holly looks around the huddled children sitting on the grass.

    "Has anyone seen Red?" The kids answer by shaking their heads no.

    "I think I saw him heading into town." A little girl answered.

    Ms. Holly runs to the gang in a panic, "Can you guys help me? One of the students is missing. Could two of you come with me and help me search while the others stay and watch the kids?"

    "Of course we will," Ash said reassuringly.

    "One of my Pokémon will make the search a lot quicker. I will get...OH Yeah." Ash paused as he shamefully facepalmed himself.

    "Talon, Tall," The group looks up to see Ash's Talonflame. It wasn't long after that the rest of his Pokémon came back with the whereabouts of Meowth.

    "You guys! Ms. Holly needs our help to find one of her students."

    "He's a little boy with black hair wearing a red shirt and hat." The Pokémon look at Ms. Holly and then to each other nodding in agreement.

    "I think they have seen him too," Clemont suggests. Ash calls them all back except Talonflame to lead them to the missing boy while Serena and Bonnie stayed with the other kids.

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    "Do you have a map?" Meowth asked.

    "A map? What do you need a map for?"

    "So I can get out of this stinking town. I don't want to stay here forever."

    "Oh," Red replied softly. "I don't have a map, but I can tell you that if you follow the river, it will lead you out of town." Red paused for a moment, "Do you want to leave now?" Red stopped walking as he spoke softly and stared at the ground. Meowth sided glance the boy then stopped walking itself. Feeling its muscles growing heavy, Meowth sighed softly. He closed his eyes briefly then opened them despite the short-lived relaxation.

    "What do you do for fun around here, twerp?" Meowth asked.

    "Twerp?"

    "Fun! Is there anything fun around here?"

    "There is a park in the middle of town. We could go there."

    "Fine by me." Meowth then picks up a delightful aroma. Feeling the rush of a small amount of energy, Meowth perks up as the sweet smell leads him to a bakery. Meowth peered through the window to see what's inside. "Cookies, Chocolate, and is that…CAKE!"

    "Can Pokémon eat sweet things?"

    Snapping out of his daze, Meowth looks over to Red. "Of course we can. Human food is much better than that garbage Pokéchow you humans always force feed us."

    "I could get you something if you like. They make great brownies."

    "Brownies…"

    "That sounds really tempting, but I haven't been feeling hungry lately. Jessie would always say that it's a bad habit just to eat food like it's a luxury. 'Food is a source of energy, not a luxury.' Her mom used to tell her that."

    "Oh…that sounds like good advice."

    "Besides, we Rockets don't buy things; we steal them. Let's go!" Meowth walked ahead, leaving behind a puzzled Red.

    "Steal?"

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    The walk to the park felt long as each step felt worse than the last. Once they finally reached the park, Meowth saw that the park had a fountain with a small ledge. Meowth walked up to the fountain. Without warning, Meowth's knees locked themselves, causing Meowth to collapse but Meowth acted as if it just lost its balance.

    "Are you okay?"

    Meowth looks at Red then quickly readjusts itself. The ledge was small enough for Meowth to lean over. With its arms folded on the ledge resting its head on them like a human. "I'm fine." It mumbled.

    Meowth started to listen to the soothing sound of the fountain trickling. Taking a seat on the ground beside Meowth, Red took a moment to reflect on the long walk he had today.

    "You know…you're the first Pokémon I spent a whole day with by myself. I don't think I'm scared anymore." Red didn't receive any comments and continued, "Do you think I could um…pet you?" Again no answer. Red looked over to see that Meowth was sound asleep. Slowly Red reached out his hand without fear to pet Meowth gently on the head.

    "Wow…" Red whispers, "…Your fur is so soft. I wonder if there are other Pokémon that feel as soft as you."

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    Ash with Clemont and Ms. Holly continued to follow Talonflame through town to the town's park.

    "Red!" Ms. Holly shouted as they were closing in on the fountain. Ms. Holly stopped dead in her tracks to bear witness to a rare site. Flabbergasted, Ms. Holly tried to find the words "Red, do you realize how close you are?"

    "Ms. Holly!" Red exclaimed as he ran up to her. "I'm not scared anymore! I was with Meowth the whole time!"

    Ash slowly walked on ahead to get a closer look at the sleeping scratch cat before him.

    "I'm not surprised. Separated from its friends and far away from home, I would be exhausted too." Clemont spoke softly as he stood beside Ash, who was staring intently while absorbing what has been said. Ash begins to bend down to his knees leaning forward to get an even closer look.

    "A proud member of Team Rocket, huh? It's sort of unbelievable right now. If I didn't know anything about Team Rocket, I would have just thought that you were a sleeping Po…Pokémon…Right, you are a Pokémon. I don't think I ever thought of you like that before." Ash slowly begins to reach his hand out to pet it. Gently brushing the tip of its ear caused the ear to twitch which caused Meowth to jolt its head up coming face to face with an up-close Ash who backed off quickly. With widened eyes, Meowth stared up at Ash with confusion.

    Ash's gaze was still calm as his voice apologetically muttered, "I…didn't mean to wake you…."

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    After a long and eventful day at school, Red returned home. Upon his arrival, he heard the phone ring. Having a good guess on who it was, he ran to answer it. On the screen popped an older boy who shared the same black hair but had vibrant green eyes.

    "Hey, kiddo!" he said.

    "Hey, big brother! Did you make it to Snowbelle City?

    "Yes, I just made it this evening. Where are Mom and Dad?"

    "They're out. Hey, guess what, I'm no longer afraid of Pokémon. So when I'm older, I'm going to start collecting them all too, just like you!"

    "Really! What changed?"

    "We were on a field trip today, and some trainers came by to show us their Pokémon. One of the Pokémon they had was a talking Meowth."

    "Talking Meowth?"

    "Uh-huh, I walked all over town with it, and because of that, I'm no longer afraid!"

    "I'm so glad to hear that little brother. Do you happen to know where those trainers and that talking Meowth are headed?"

    "Uh…I think they're heading for Snowbelle City."

    "That's good to know…Really good to know."
    Chapter 4
    Author Notes:

    Moliere Academy- The name Moliere comes from well Moliere. Moliere was an actor in the 1660s, his plays explored social, psychological, and metaphysical questions. One play that he was in was called "Tartuffe".

    Corneille- the full name was Pierre Corneille acted in plays that were more dramatic/tragic such as the "The Cid." He started acting a little earlier than Moliere but they both were technically around during the same time.

    This chapter will have a brief songfic section by the end.


    Chapter 4: Catch me, Catch you

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    Winding down after such an eventful day, the group found an Inn that was on the other side of town. Due to the lack of Pokémon centers nearby, this Inn did provide some services and necessities that a Pokémon trainer would need to help keep their Pokémon in tip-top shape for the journey ahead. Feeling the need for some external advice, Ash removed himself from the group to phone a friend.

    "Hello, Ash. It's good to hear from you. How is your journey in Kalos going so far?"

    "Hello, Professor Oak. Everything is fine."

    "You're traveling near the Montes Jura range, right? You know I have a friend who's traveling there as well. Maybe you will run into him."

    "Professor I have a question about Pokémon."

    "What is it, Ash?"

    "If a Pokémon did bad things, does that make it a bad Pokémon? Could a Pokémon truly be evil?"

    "What is this about Ash? Is there a particular Pokémon you have in mind?"

    "Sorry to interrupt!" Clemont came rushing in from behind. "Ash, have you seen Meowth anywhere?"

    "No, I haven't."

    "Well if you do, tell it to meet me in the lobby. They have a small treatment center here for Pokémon. It's not much but it will do."

    "Yeah, sure."

    Clemont continues his search, while Ash turns his attention back to the Professor who happens to have a baffled expression. Ash begins to explain, "You see Meowth is traveling with me…"

    "YOU CAUGHT THAT MEOWTH!" Oak shouted. "That's great! HEY Tracy! Ash caught Meowth!"

    A "really" could be heard in the background. "You have no idea how long I have been waiting to hear that. Do you think you could send it over? I have been wanting to study that Meowth the minute it came into my lab with those crooks." Professor Oak continued with vigorous enthusiasm.

    "Actually Professor, I didn't catch it." It was as if all of Professor Oak's dreams shattered like a sheet of glass.

    "WHHHAAAATTT!" he screamed. "Why not you're a Pokémon trainer aren't you. Then why is it traveling with you in the first place?"

    "It's a long story, you see we found Meowth in Strasboro City and it was separated from Jessie and James."

    Tracy interjects from behind Professor Oak, "You're not seriously going to let a Pokémon rejoin a team of criminals, are you? It's a Pokémon, it doesn't know any better."

    "I beg to differ it knows what it does is wrong."

    "I do believe that you are right Ash. Meowth does seem to have a sense of right and wrong." Professor Oak continues, "To answer your previous questions, I can say with full confidence that Pokémon are naturally good. It is in their nature and I have seen it time and again. A Pokémon can do good deeds but it also can do bad deeds as well. It all depends on the humans that influence it. This philosophy can also be implemented in Meowth's case. However, it may not be so easy. For all we know, the life of being in Team Rocket could be the only thing it knows. Nevertheless, such a sentiment does not change the fact that it is a wild Pokémon. When a trainer catches a Pokémon the Pokémon will become bound to that trainer. If you were to catch it, its desire to return to Team Rocket would diminish. You would also be able to build a better relationship through proper encouragement."

    "Hmm…I'm really glad I called you Professor. Thank you and you too, Tracy." Ash hung up, clutching the phone's handle as he slammed his head onto the table.

    "Too bad I made that stupid deal!" Ash cried out to himself.

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    Ash walks outside to get some fresh air only to be greeted by his best friend. "Pika Pi"

    "Pikachu! How are you, buddy?" "Pika…chu!" Ash laughed as Pikachu nuzzled his face. Serena came running up to Ash with a worried look on her face.

    "Have you seen Pancham?" Before Ash could answer Clemont came running towards them.

    "Still no sign of Meowth either."

    "Hey!" Bonnie came dashing towards the gang. "Some people told me that there is a small amphitheater that's located in a small opening of the woods. It's where some of the trainers gather to train their Pokémon. We should try there."

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    Meowth was walking through the small wooded area outside of town seeing the peaks of Montes Jura up ahead, thinking about the rendezvous point that his team agreed upon if they ever got separated like this. Following the sound of a murmuring creek, the trees became fewer and fewer as Meowth walked into the opening. Surrounded by the trees, there was a small stage at the far end with the creek naturally splitting the stage from the crowd.

    "That's one way to prevent from getting upstaged." Meowth thought jokingly. For a small opening in the woods, it felt pretty spacious, there were a lot of trainers around with their Pokémon. Some of them were sitting on tree stumps in front of the stage.

    "I guess there is going to be a show." Meowth took notice of the props that were leaning on the side. Walking over to the tree stump that was the farthest away from the stage, Meowth sits down on the ground with its back against the stump, closing its eyes. It wasn't long till it heard the pitter patter through the grass come towards it. A few seconds of relaxation were enough to make a simple act of opening one's own eyes feel like lifting heavy weights. Meowth reluctantly opened his eyes to see Pancham leaning its face forward.

    "Pan, Pan." Pancham dropped a Pecha berry into Meowth's lap as it sat down next to him eating its own.

    Puzzled by the strange gesture Meowth asks, "What are you doing?"

    "Pancham, Pan, Pan, Panch, Pancham, Pan." (It's your favorite right? I saw you try to grab one a couple of times when we were lost in the forest.) Pancham begins to take a bite from its own.

    "Pan, Pan, Pancham!" (It's yummy!) Pancham said joyfully.

    Meowth skeptically looked at the berry in his lap for a minute then back up at Pancham. "But why did you give this to me?"

    "Pan, Pan, Pancham, Pancham." (Because that's what friends do.)

    "Friends? Hold on, I am not your friend." Meowth continued in a matter of fact tone. "I am a proud member of Team Rocket remember? This traveling arrangement is only temporary."

    "Pancham, Pan, Panch, Pancham, Panch, Pan, Pan." (Yes, but misfits like us should learn to stick together.)

    Meowth cringes slightly but attempts to remain factual, "Just don't get too attached."

    "Talo!" They both looked up to see Ash's Talonflame flying overhead. It was in a matter of seconds the gang arrived.

    "Pancham! You know better than to go off running like that!" Serena reprimanded.

    "Meowth, you should have told us where you were going." Clemont lectured.

    "Tch, I don't have to do anything. I don't belong to you." Meowth answered as if it were being hassled.

    "Guess it didn't do anything completely wrong." Ash thought as he glared at Meowth for its latest wisecrack.

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    "Come one, come all!" A lady announcer spoke through a megaphone. "The show is about to start!"

    "A show! Can we stay and watch Clemont?" Bonnie asked her brother.

    "It's getting late we should all be getting our rest. It's going to be a long day tomorrow."

    "PLEEEAAASEEE!?" "DEEE, DEEE!" Both Bonnie and Dedenne pleaded with big puppy dog eyes.

    "I would like to stay and see it too," Serena stated.

    "Me too." Ash chimed in. Seeing he was outnumbered Clemont caved into his group of friends. They all moved forward to get a better view of the stage, as Ash moved with them he turned around to see Meowth not moving with the group.

    "Aren't you coming?"

    "I wasn't planning to. I'm fine right here." Meowth stated plainly as it folded its arms. Ash felt a twitch in his eye as he leaned forward, kneeling beside it as Meowth slowly drifted its focus onto the grass on its other side. As Ash observed it, Meowth's posture relaxed as its shoulders slumped down. Ash tried to speak but his words failed to come out. Not even a whisper was uttered as his lips opened and closed. His one eye twitched again as he furrowed his brows and his fists clenched tightly before he stood up again. He started to walk away to join his friends but then stopped.

    "Meowth," It stiffened slightly at the sound of its name.

    "What?" It asked softly. Ash remained quiet as he watched it acknowledge his presence but then turned to walk away to join his friends.

    "Nevermind," he muttered.

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    A young woman dressed in a long black-tailed tuxedo coat with a white blouse underneath and black trousers came onto the stage. Her red hair was puffy and was pulled back into pigtails to the sides of her head that had a black top hat to complete her outfit.

    "Hello Everyone! My name is Corneille, but you can call me Nellie for short. I am here on behalf of the Moliere Academy to give the Lyonnais Town a preview of our upcoming show that will be in Laverre City. Please Enjoy the Show!" And with that, she went backstage as a Roserade, a Mawile and a white-flowered Florges took to the stage. They started dancing to the music that was playing as Florges started to sing in the human language.

    Meowth was listening from the back. When it glanced forward at the stage he straightened his posture as he perked up with hope in his eyes, "Can that Florges really talk like me?"

    He had to get a closer look. Forcing himself to stand up as he made his way closer to the stage.

    "Pika," Meowth snapped out of his trance as he turned to the Pikachu that growled lowly. The singing stopped and everyone stood up to clap. Pikachu jumped off of Ash's lap as he stood up to clap while the two adversaries continued their silent battle of glares. Once Ash finished clapping and sat down he turned to Pikachu as he patted his lap as a signal for Pikachu to return. Pikachu lifted its gaze to Ash and happily returned to his lap as the music started playing again. Before returning his attention to the stage Ash then noticed that Meowth has joined their side. Its attention was on the stage like everyone else in the crowd. Ash quietly returned his attention onto the stage as a small smile started to creep up onto his features but quickly ceased. His mind started to race, the moment was brief not even a second long but the thought didn't escape his mind. He saw it, he was sure of it. There was a dirty look on the scratch cat. His arms around Pikachu tightened slightly as the feeling grew. It was up to something just now, wasn't it?

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    Sitting in Serena's lap, Pancham couldn't help but get overly excited by the performance. Luckily the performance ended in time before Pancham decided to take things into its own paws.

    "During this time," the announcer spoke again, "if you have Pokémon that would like to join us, please feel free to let them."

    It was like the announcer read Pancham's mind. Both Pancham and Pikachu joined the stage by crossing the ramp over the creek that was separating the audience and stage. Rosereade and Mawile started to teach the Pokémon that joined them the dance moves that they were to use while Florges continued singing. The Pokémon were dancing with each other and having fun, but Pancham started getting to close to the center of the stage causing the Florges to trip over and fall off the stage. The music stopped and Nellie ran out to check on the Pokémon. Florges's leaf like legs were badly injured and couldn't continue.

    "I'm sorry everyone, but tonight's show is over. But please do come back in the morning for another preview."

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    The crowd moved out since the show was over. Serena and the gang ran up to the performer and her Florges.

    "I'm sorry for what happened, I'm sure my Pancham didn't mean too." "Pan, Pan." Pancham said sympathetically. "Is there anything that we can do to help?"

    "That's alright, how did you guys like the show?"

    "It was great!" Serena exclaimed, "Was it you who lip-synched for Florges?"

    "Yes, unfortunately, Florges is the only one here that is trained to do it. I guess for tomorrow we're going to have to cut that part out."

    "Lip sync?" Meowth thought as it watched the twerps mingle with some stranger from afar.

    "Florges, Flor." He heard it say as it talked to the other Pokémon. Meowth felt the brief excitement escape as old disheartening thoughts resurfaced. Feeling its body growing heavy, Meowth turned around to find himself a place to sleep. Pancham ran in front of him blocking his path.

    "Pancham, Pan, Pan, Cham."

    Irritated by the suggestion Meowth pushes Pancham aside.

    "Pikachu…gently" Ash whispered to Pikachu. Pikachu obliged by sending a tiny lightning bolt towards the cold feline, creating the feeling of a static shock.

    "Hey! What Gives!?"

    "You have a talking Meowth!?" Nellie cried, "Do you think I could borrow it?"

    They all nod in an agreement as Meowth stood at the edge of its side of the creek.

    "No way! I won't do it!"

    "Please, little Meowth it would mean a lot to me." Nellie whimpers her plea to the unmoved cat.

    "Pancham, Pannn." It pleaded.

    "Like I care!" Meowth snapped as some were staring at him plea fully while others stuck with the usual glare of disapproval. He didn't want to do it. He was adamant about that. While staring at the stage a vision of Jessie and James suddenly popped into his mind.

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    ***FLASHBACK***

    Team Rocket was sitting at a picnic table eating lunch with an open letter that was from the boss in the middle of the table. Eying it with disgust, "Do I have to?" Meowth whined.

    "Meowth when the boss says to do something you do it. No questions asked." Jessie continued, "Besides it will be fun, it's not like he's asking a whole lot from you."

    "But it's so boring. It's the same story every year."

    "Well then it shouldn't be hard for you to do a good job now, is it?" James inquired.

    "Meowth, it's a Team Rocket tradition to have a play featuring Pokémon during Team Rocket's Founder's day festival. You should feel honored that the boss wants you in it." Jessie added.

    "Yeah but it's the same story every time that's just based off of some old legend."

    "Well like I said," James started, "I'm sure you'll do fine."

    "It's not the play I'm worried about" Meowth mutters quietly to himself.

    "Don't worry Meowth," Jessie said, "The boss always had our backs when it came to that. I have complete confidence that he won't let anything happen to our team."

    ***FLASHBACK***

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    "Wait, wasn't someone else with us that day?" Snapping out of its daze looks up to see everyone still watching it, waiting for the answer they preferred.

    "Ohhh…alright." Meowth slouches with his head down in defeat. Nellie and her Pokémon cheered with delight to their little victory. "But it's only for tomorrow!"

    Meowth's warning fell on deaf ears as they were still cheering. "Maybe this little skit could help me remember more."

    "We don't have much time," Nellie said as she put on the big stage lights for a better visual since the sun was threatening to go out completely with its last few rays of light burning out. As the kids watch from the audience point of view, Nellie begins teaching Meowth the words of the song it will have to lip sync in the morning. Meowth bored out of its mind was sitting on the edge of the stage slouching like a human, obviously tuning her out. Florges was sitting next to it, lend in and flicked its ear ordering it to pay attention.

    Frustrated with Nellie's incompetence, Meowth articulates "Why don't you just let me read the script?"

    "You can read?" Nellie asked surprisingly, shocking everyone with this new fact. She hands over the script. As Meowth looks over the script, an anime sweat drop began appearing on Meowth's forehead.

    "Are you sure you can read?" Nellie asked doubting him.

    "How can anyone read this awful handwriting?" Nellie anime falls as Meowth continues his insult, "Is this supposed to be an R, an O or maybe it's a T. Well we are not going to get anywhere with this illegible garbage." Meowth crumbles it up and tosses it to the side, causing Nellie to chase after it before it was lost for good.

    "Well do you have any better ideas?"

    "Yeah don't do it." He sighed inwardly."Just tell me what was written and I will write it down myself."

    "You Can Write!?" Everyone exclaimed in unison. Meowth was handed a piece of paper and pen and began to write…beautifully and in cursive. First, it started with its left then somewhere in between switched to its right. Everyone gathered around to admire the Pokémon's penmanship.

    "Amazing who would have thought a Pokémon could write like this," Clemont said with admiration.

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    As the sun kept going down the darker it became. The stage lights became brighter as if they became the sun. An artificial sun that was unnaturally bright. Accidently staring at the light directly, Meowth would suddenly feel a cold chill crawling up its back as a bead of sweat drips from its brow. Meowth couldn't take it anymore. It wanted all of this to stop. This new human that the twerps just had to help was getting on his nerves. She wouldn't shut up as Meowth took notice of the mini twerp who was close to collapsing on her brother's lap. All of the twerps appeared to be dozing off.

    "Let's call it quits," Meowth suggested.

    "What? No way!" Nellie exclaimed.

    "Meowth is right. It is getting really late." Clemont added as he held back a yawn.

    "But there is so much more that needs to be rehearsed."

    "I will have everything memorized by tomorrow," Meowth said.

    "You will?"

    "Of course. It's not like this is my first show. It will be easy."

    "What Moliere Academy does is not easy. It takes years of training to perfect."

    "Tch...it's easy alright," Meowth stated. "Not to mention boring." He mumbled.

    "You find something like this boring?" Serena asked. "But all the other Pokémon seem to love it."

    Meowth rolled his eyes as he placed one paw on his hip. "Oh please, something like this isn't exciting at all. Like I said, it will be easy. Just go on stage, dance and pretend as if I care then go off the stage. No explosions, no surprises, no scheming, no nothing. Just your typical boring, uneventful show."

    "Scheming? What does it mean by that?" Nellie asked as she turned to Ash who clenched his shaking fists as his one eye twitched while his friends looked on nervously.

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    The gang eagerly walked back to their room after such a long day of tiresome events. Finally being able to call it a night and putting on their pajamas then jumping into a comfy bed. It was then that the gang realized that someone was missing.

    "Maybe it prefers sleeping outside. It is still a wild Pokémon after all." Clemont suggested. Thinking about his conversation with Professor Oak, Ash looked over to Pikachu who was nearly asleep beside his head.

    "Pikachu, how would you feel if I made Meowth apart of our team officially by capturing it?" Ash whispered.

    "Pika…" Pikachu glares at Ash, "PIKA…CHUUU!"

    "AHHHHH! I…under…stand…uhhh." Ash passed out from the strong electric shock with Pikachu sleeping comfortably beside him.

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    "Sounds of water rippling through my body…"

    **Click, clack, click, clack, click, clack**

    "Where are those footsteps coming from…" Meowth looks to see what it is but gets blinded by the light from the sun. Trying to peer through the brightness, the sunlight diminishes into a twinkle of light moving around the highest peaks of the lightly snow covered, rocky mountains. The footsteps stop suddenly, Meowth slowly turns around to see who it is only to be blasted with loud shrieks coming in from all different directions. The loud sounds were painful as if they were waves of a 1000 thunderbolt attacks, the strong wind caused Meowth to collapse, squeezing its eyes shut out of fear to what could be making that awful noise.

    Meowth jolted up awake, breathing heavily, resting his paw over his heart taking notice of its uncanny fast pace.

    "It…was…just a dream. But it felt so real." Still breathing heavily with a fast beating heart Meowth looks up to see that it was still nightfall. He was still at the amphitheater and Meowth concluded that he may have dozed off while memorizing the lyrics. Looking over the script, Meowth decided to continue memorizing as the dream, if one wants to call it that, haunted the night with the sounds of a fast beating heart echoing in his ears.

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    It was early morning and Meowth was backstage watching everyone gathering around to get a seat.

    "Ugh…I'm so tired…I didn't get any sleep after having that dream again." Meowth sighs out its frustration as it slouches. Feeling a tap on its shoulder looks up to see Florges.

    "Florges!" (Good luck!)

    Pancham comes running towards him with Pikachu not far behind, for they were both going to join him on stage as well.

    "Ugh…this is going to be so humiliating." Everyone took his or her places as Meowth clipped on a one-sided fairy winged ear mic prop. The music started to play and the Pokémon were doing their routines. The music then changed its tune.

    "Guess that's my cue."

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    Doing a flip as he jumped up on a platform that was a little higher off the stage and in the back center, Meowth began to lip sync his part by closing his eyes softly and with both paws clasping over his heart.

    Aitai na, aenai na

    Setsunai na kono kimochi

    Ienai no iitai no

    Chansu nogashite bakari

    (I want to see you, but I can't see you

    This feeling is painful

    I can't say it, but I want to say it

    I only keep losing my chances)

    Everyone listens intensely as the dolefully looking Pokémon lip-syncs the lyrics perfectly.

    Tama ni ne nakunacchau karada no batterii

    (Sometimes, my body's battery runs out)

    The Meowth on stage slowly opens its eyes with a soft smile to continue.

    Anata no egao de itsumo juuden mantan pawaa bakuhatsushichae

    (But with your smile, I always get fully charged exploding with full power)

    Meowth jumps off the platform with another flip right into the middle of the other dancing Pokémon to join them.

    Hora Catch You Catch You Catch Me Catch Me zettai

    (Catch You Catch You Catch Me Catch Me Absolutely)

    "Catch you?" Ash thought as he was captivated by the singing scratch cat Pokémon.

    Unmei datte

    O-niai date

    (It's our destiny. It works for us.)

    "Destiny?"

    Sou Nice to Meet You Good to See You kitto

    Dare ni mo makenai anata ni sekai de

    Ichiban ichiban ichiban ichiban

    (Yeah Nice to Meet You Good to See You Surely

    I won't lose to anyone. I'll be no. 1 no. 1 no.1 no. 1 in the world to you)

    "Is that so?"

    Meowth gave another twirl as it walked closer to the edge of the stage. With a warm smile, Meowth closed its eyes softly clasping its paws over its heart once again.

    Onegai Onegai

    Mazu wa o-tomadachi kara

    Waratte

    Mitsumete

    Tanoshii mainichi ni shitai

    (Please, please

    Because we are friends

    I want to make every day fun laughing and smiling with you)

    Meowth smiled and winked to the audience as it jumped back to rejoin the dancing Pokémon.

    Hora Catch You Catch You Catch Me Catch Me zettai

    Unmei datte

    o-niai datte

    Sou Nice to Meet You Good to See You kitto

    Atashi no omoi anata no HA-TO ni

    Tonde tonde tonde yuke

    (Catch You Catch You Catch Me Catch Me Absolutely

    It's our destiny. It works for us.

    Yeah Nice to Meet You Good to See You Surely

    My thoughts will go flying, flying, flying into your heart)

    As Meowth lip-synced the last note, he jumped higher backward with a backflip landing on the platform he started out on to finish the song.

    Ma-yo-wa-na-i

    (They will not get lost.)

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    The show was a huge success, Ash and his friends started to head backstage to gather their Pokémon. Meowth was sitting on the edge of the stage with Florges, Roserade, Mawile, and Pancham surrounding it. Florges was very thankful for Meowth's help as were the other Pokémon. Meowth was trying hard not to make any notion as it was receiving so much positive acknowledgment with only a slight blush giving itself away. However, Pikachu was having not of it as it was patiently waiting for Ash.

    "Pikachu!" "Pika Pi!" Pikachu ran towards Ash to jump into his arms.

    "You did great buddy! Ha, ha!" Ash continued laughing as he received Pikachu's warm affections.

    "Pancham!" Serena called. "You were great! I think we're going to have to try something like this for ourselves. What do you think?" "Pan, Pan!"

    "Would it be possible?" Ash observed quietly as he thought about the performance as everyone else began to shower Meowth with compliments, but instead of slightly blushing as he did with the Pokémon, he acted as if the whole thing was beneath him.

    "Since when did you know how to do flips like that?" Bonnie asked. Nellie spoke up before Meowth could answer.

    "We could really use someone like you at Moliere Academy. I know you would do great in our big show. So how about it?"

    "No way! My loyalties belong elsewhere." Meowth answered arrogantly as he tilted his head away ending their eye contact.

    Taking that as an incentive, Nellie goes over to ask Ash "Would you please consider it? I promise we will take good care of your Meowth."

    The sounds of the water from the creek thrashing against the walkway that connected the two sides of the amphitheater started to fill the air as Meowth snapped. "I Don't Belong to Him! I Don't Belong to Any of Them! I Told You NO! So QUIT Wasting Your Time!"

    "MEOWTH!" Ash snarled. "PIKA!"

    "Meowth, this sounds like a great opportunity for you why don't you reconsider her offer." Serena sincerely suggested.

    "You're wild…" Nellie murmurs to herself. Meowth eyed her and saw the look in her eyes, he knew what that look meant. He quickly got up ready to flee off the stage, but Nellie was quicker as she pulled out a quick ball and threw it before Meowth could even move an inch away from where he was originally.

    ***Swoosh***

    Pancham arm thrust the offending quick ball away as he got in front of Meowth, shocking everyone especially Meowth. Pancham turns to face Meowth and smiles. Meowth was speechless trying to get the words out but was failing miserably.

    "Pancham, cham, cham, Panch, Pancham." (It's what friends do.)

    Still flabbergasted Meowth stared for a moment, as the sunlight seemed to bounce off its koban just right as a soft smile naturally emerges onto its features giving it a warm glow as it smiled. Hopefully, no one was blinking because that warm smile faded just as quickly as it appeared. Looking away with its arms folded with one paw covering its mouth.

    "…thank…you." He muttered so softly as a light blush appeared on his cheeks, causing everyone to slightly smile themselves.

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    The gang expresses their goodbyes as they started to resume their journey with Meowth trailing behind them. With Pikachu happily on Ash's shoulder, Ash was still pondering over the possibility.

    "Meowth about that song you sang earlier, would you ever truly consider becoming someone's Pokémon?" He asked. "Pi?" Pikachu looked at Ash.

    "What?" Confused by the sudden question. "No, of course not. Why would I?" Meowth asked.

    Ash started pointing to himself, "Maybe one day you will…" "PIKA!…" Ash stopped as they both looked nervously at Pikachu.

    "PIKA…CHUUUU!"

    "AAAAAHHHHH!" Both screamed.

    "Ne…v…er…Mi…nd!"

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    Author notes:

    Imagine walking down the street minding your own business and you happen to have a 100 bill with you. A cat springs out of nowhere and says to you, "Finders, Keepers!" or something like that. What would your reaction be...would you care about the money or care about the fact that cat just talked to you. If you're like me your reaction would probably be like...A talking a cat, screw that 100 I could make millions off of you. Hence my Professor Oak's reaction and pretty much everyone's in the show. Their reaction is only a second long and all because of what it's stealing from them. Again I was in the age range when this show came out and it always baffled me even when I was a kid that no one bothered to try to capture it. (Except for one or two instances original series wise) I guess logically speaking they never bothered because of Jessie and James...but that was one of many issues that always bothered even as a kid...I was always waiting to see if someone would catch it just to study its brain

    Again I haven't seen much of the recent episodes and that I am really going off by what I read. I know that Pancham stole items from everyone when it was introduced, so I figured out of all the Pokémon that Pancham would be the one that Meowth could relate to in a way.

    The song is Catch you Catch Me and it's the first opening of Card captor Sakura. It is sung by Gumi. You can find it on youtube. The song is a lot longer than what I put in here and I also rearranged it so it would fit the way I wanted it too. Every time I heard this song, it always brought me back to Pokémon and how cool it would be if it was sung by one...which in a way gives off a creepy vibe...or it could just be me
    Chapter 5
    Author notes:

    The Alps- I think it goes without saying that the Alps overall is one of the largest mountain ranges in the world. Depending on where you are the mountains could be very rocky with limestone and other minerals with light vegetation while other areas are greener. Of course when people think of the Alps they think of snow covered mountain peaks. But that's only part of them since it depends on the elevations of the mountains themselves…the higher you go the colder it gets

    Montes Jura- The Jura Mountains are their own mountain range. I just realized I said they were apart of the Alps…their not exactly in real life…but for the sake of this fanfiction they will be…that's probably where my head was at when I wrote that note. Hence the name "Jura" is more like a forest compared to the Alps. However for this story Montes Jura will be adapting to the Alps scenery but still aligned with the Rhine/Rhone River.

    Alemaca valley- Based off of Alemannic, Alemannic is a German dialect that spoken across the Rhine.

    The Hiker Family- You know how you always run into those hikers in the games…yeah.


    Chapter 5: Rocky Trails: Part I

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    "What was that?" Meowth stopped in its tracks as it looked on ahead at the tallest peaks of Montes Jura.

    "Pi…Pika Pi" Pikachu tapped Ash's shoulder to get his attention causing him to stop to look back at Meowth who has fallen behind. It was just standing in one place while staring aimlessly as a vacant expression adorned its features.

    "Those mountains…they're just like the ones in my dreams." Meowth continued its gaze onto the lightly snow-covered mountain peaks that were in the far off distance. Montes Jura happens to be one of the largest mountain ranges in the world. It even stretches out into other regions, so as far as Meowth could tell those tall peaks in the far off distance could be a part of a different region near Kalos. Those mountain peaks in the far off distance were covered in snow while the mountains they were about to hike through were rocky with minor vegetation and pockets of small wooded areas consisting of tall pine trees and other species of plant life. As they keep getting closer to the dryer atmosphere of the mountains the further away they got from the lush green meadows and forests that they were in before. Looking at the conspicuous mountains, Meowth felt drawn to them somehow as if something was pulling him towards them.

    **Click, clack, click, clack, click, clack**

    Snapping out of his daze, Meowth looks up to see Ash and Pikachu looking down at him suspiciously.

    "What's the holdup?" Ash asked calmly. Meowth maintained its blank stare as it tried to speak but the words failed to come out. Meowth's ears suddenly started to twitch as its posture stiffened.

    **Click, clack, click, clack, click, clack**

    The sound of shoes hitting the graveled path came from behind, Meowth slowly turned to see who it was. A hefty built man with a brown beard and a safari like hat was covered in all sorts of mountain climbing gear continued to close the distance as he walked up behind them. On his belt seemed to be a very distinctive stone. The man had a happy go lucky kind of aura around him as he had a cheerful expression walking towards them.

    "Howdy! You kids headed through the mountains?" he asked cheerfully in his deep booming voice. Up close the man's round face made his eyes seem smaller than other humans. But this was also due to the way his thick brown beard framed his face. He sort of reminded Meowth of a Snorlax. Just then, an image of a Snorlax with the man's beard, outfit and gear sneaked into its head causing it to burst into a giggling fit. Trying to contain its soft giggles by putting a paw over its mouth didn't stop the strange looks it was getting for the bizarre behavior.

    "It's kind of cute." The girls thought.

    "Uh…yes we are." Ash finally answered after being distracted by the cat's behavior.

    "Where exactly are you headed? Montes Jura is a very large place. It's very easy to get lost there."

    "It is? We're headed to Snowbelle City for my next gym battle?"

    "Snowbelle City? My name is Anthony. I guide Pokémon trainers like yourselves through these mountains. I'm heading back to my cabin now after guiding some trainers to Strasboro City. The cabin happens to be near Alemaca Valley and it would be a good halfway point for you to rest up."

    "That sounds great! What do you think guys?" Ash asked as he turned to look back at his friends who were still a little further ahead. They all nodded in agreement to take the kind man's offer.

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    "I see so you guys came from Strasboro City by following the river." The gang nodded.

    "Unfortunately your not the only trainers who think that is a solid way of travel through here. It's not an easy way to travel with a terrain that always changes. It is very hard to follow the river. At some points, you can't see it at all and many trainers end up getting lost. Also following this particular river is not as straight forward as the maps make it out to be. It won't lead you to Snowbelle City, it will lead you outside of Kalos. The best way would be for you to go through Alemaca valley, after that it's a straight shot to Cularo Town and from there you can take the monorail which will take you straight to Snowbelle City."

    "But the map said that following the river was the quickest way for us to get there," Clemont stated.

    "Yes, that is true if you know the land. The river splits in many different directions. One of the channels connects to the lake that borders Snowbelle City. It's still not as straightforward as the map makes it out to be."

    "Wow, it's a good thing that we ran into you then, huh Pikachu." "Pika-chu."

    "I've been thinking the same thing." Anthony laughed in his heavy toned voice gleefully.

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    As the sun started to set, they began to see smoke rising above the small wooded area that they were walking towards.

    "Ho, Ho, My wife must be starting to make dinner!" They walked inside the small patch of woods that was thick of pine trees. On the other side of the woods, the two-story wooden cabin with a cobblestone chimney was coming into sight. The position of the cabin was rather unique, it was at the end of the small patch of woods but also at the edge of a canyon. The front of the house was facing the wooded area while the back faced the edge. The canyon was steep, they were very high up. As Anthony has informed them they could not see the river that the map said to follow on the way here. Curious about the location, the group went to get a closer look at the edge of the canyon to see the view of mountains ahead and a forest in the valley down below. On the other side of the canyon, they noticed that the rock wall had multiple small caves that were spread out from one another.

    "There must be a lot of Pokémon living here." Clemont assumed. "Do we take that path tomorrow?" He pointed to a path that would lead them down to the valley's floor.

    "That's right. Now, I'm sure you're all hungry, let's go inside and I will introduce you to my family."

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    "HONEY, I'm Home! Ha, Ha!" The man bellowed with laughter as two petite women came running towards the man to welcome him home.

    "Kids, I would like to introduce you to my wife Faye and my sister Piper." His wife had an apron on and her Tyrian purple hair was tied back in a low ponytail with vibrant violet eyes lighting up her dark-olive skin complexion. As for his sister, she had the same brown hair as her brother but was slender in size compared to him. Once everyone introduced themselves and said their hellos, Faye went back to her cooking while Piper showed them to their rooms for the night. After putting their stuff away, they headed back down to sit in the living room to continue their conversations. The living room felt welcoming with its lit fireplace as did Anthony and his family.

    "I have kids who happen to be Pokémon trainers themselves. Too bad you won't be able to meet them, they must be out guiding other trainers. Ha, Ha! You see we decided to build our own cabin here so we could help trainers like you. We all love to go hiking so we figured since Montes Jura is a tough place for newcomers it just made sense to move here. Ha, Ha!"

    "That's really amazing!" Ash admitted.

    "Arch! Arch! Arch!" A strange noise came from the kitchen.

    "What was that?" Ash inquired.

    "Ha, Ha! Well, there's only one way to find out!" Anthony happily leads them to the kitchen as they enter to see fossil Pokémon. There was an Omastar and a Shieldon happily eating their meal on the ground while the one who was making the noise was on the counter squawking for attention.

    "Arc, Arc!"

    "Ha, Ha it seems you have an admirer, Faye." Faye offered a sweet smile to her husband's remark as well as to Archen, petting it gently.

    "Ha, Ha" Anthony laughed loudly as he noticed the shocked expressions of his guests.

    "My family also takes care of the Pokémon here. As you can see there are plenty of fossil Pokémon within these mountains. Unfortunately, these Pokémon have been attacked and injured by a gang of hooligans." The kids eye Meowth cautiously as the logical thought entered their minds. The glares went unnoticed.

    Meowth was staring aimlessly, it was going to be a full moon tonight. It was something that would always get his heart bouncing for joy no matter how tired as only the sounds of his slow, heavy breathing were heard.

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    Once dinner was ready, everyone gathered around the dinner table. The cabin was surprisingly big enough for all the Pokémon to be gathered inside to enjoy their meals as well. While the humans sat at the table the Pokémon were to the side.

    "Pancham, Pan." Pancham waved a paw in front of Meowth's face to get his attention. Meowth blinked a few times as he came back from his neverending daze. He looked to his side to see Pancham sitting beside him and that somehow he was sitting down himself amongst all the Pokémon. He couldn't recall how he ended up in this position. He remembered he was walking a lot but that was about it.

    "Pancham" It said to regain Meowth's attention again. Meowth didn't understand what all the fuss was about. He then noticed that there were bowls of Pokéchow in front of the Pokémon. His bowl was still full and untouched while Pancham's bowl was nearly empty. To silence the unwanted, he shoved his bowl gently towards Pancham so he could be left alone in peace.

    The unexpected reaction gathered a few of the other Pokémon's attention. Some glanced over from their bowls eyeing the scratch cat who was now staring up at the ceiling. Unexpressive, as its gaze was upward, Pancham tried to get its attention but to no avail as Meowth remained fixated on the wooden ceiling.

    "Here, try this." Faye sweetly spoke to Pancham as she handed it two sticks with green colored dumplings.

    "Pan, Pan, Pan, Cham." It tapped Meowth's shoulder.

    "Huh…" Meowth looked at Pancham who offered him a stick of dumplings.

    "Pan, Pan, Pan, Cham." Meowth slowly reaches out for one of the sticks.

    "Pancham, Pan." Pancham then shows Meowth as it begins to eat its own. The dumplings did look good but Meowth begins to put the stick of sweet dumplings down.

    "PIKA!" Pikachu shouted as it gained everyone's attention. "Pikachu, Pika, Pika, Chu, Chu!"

    "Bunnelby, Bun." Bunnelby said sounding more positive compared to Pikachu's skeptical tone. Mixed looks of encouragement and skepticism from the Pokémon looked on at the scratch cat Pokémon.

    "Pan, Pan." Pancham said sincerely. Meowth looked at Pancham for a moment and then back at the dumplings, seeing that he won't be left alone until everyone's expectations were met, he obliged by taking a tiny bite.

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    Bonnie quickly finished her meal then walked over to the Pokémon.

    "So, is it your buddies from Team Rocket who are behind the attacks Meowth?" She was quick to ask the nibbling feline.

    "Team Rocket?" Piper questioned. "Wait, is that the talking Meowth from Team Rocket? Are you guys members?"

    Meowth busted out laughing. "The twerps…Ha, Ha…apart of Team Rocket? Ha, Ha…That's the most ridiculous thing I have ever heard! Ha, Ha!"

    "I was Right! Ha, Ha! I had a feeling you were Team Rocket's Meowth! My cousin back in Kanto told me all about you! Ha, Ha!" Anthony bellowed ecstatically as Meowth's laughter stopped abruptly.

    "If you're really the talking Meowth from Team Rocket that means you're one of their Rocketeers, right?" Faye asked innocently with hope in her violet eyes.

    "Rocketeer?" The kids muttered quietly in unison as they looked at each other.

    "Do you think you could help us?" Faye asked with hope still very present in her eyes. Meowth became deathly quiet, taking in his current predicament. It wasn't good. He nervously listened while trying to shake the uncomfortable feeling of multiple judging eyes upon him.

    "Team Rocket? Help?" The gang thought.

    Faye continues in her sweet voice, "We have been requesting for help from Team Flare for months about our Pokémon and they continue to ignore us."

    "That's not surprising since they have unique requirements on to who they're willing to sell their services to," Meowth stated in a nonchalant manner.

    "Ha, Ha! This is fantastic! My cousin told me what your team did for him back in Kanto. That you guys were able to keep the excavation in Grandpa Canyon from happening by causing a big explosion." Ash suddenly recalls those events. How he tried to stop Team Rocket from using the explosives to dig out all the fossils for themselves, only to be trapped underground with them.

    Anthony continues on, "He said that Team Rocket was able to scare away all those people off and that they had a talking Meowth with them. I had a great feeling about you the very moment I saw you and a hiker's instincts are never wrong. Ha, Ha!"

    "Hold on! You have it all wrong, that's not what happened."

    "No, No, I remember the story perfectly. My cousin went on and on about you. Because of that explosion and the use of a Jigglypuff you were able to keep the people from finding out about the fossil Pokémon that lived there." Anthony explained as Ash was still remembering those events, shocked to what he was hearing.

    "That was their plan…from the beginning?"

    "Yeah…well…uh…" Meowth nervously tries to think of a way out of this. "They had to pay a price for that and that was different. Also, I'm only allowed to do things when another Team Rocket agent is with me."

    "We gave you food and shelter. You Owe us!" Piper demanded.

    "Owe?" The gang thought.

    "For a nibble? Then I'll leave." Meowth turned ready to walk out the door.

    "Wait! Don't go!" Faye pleaded.

    "Meowth," Anthony started in a serious tone far different from the joyful voice he normally had.

    "We are just like my cousin back in Kanto, we are a family unit. What we need from you is similar, we what to get these fossil Pokémon to a safer place away from the trainers who are trying to destroy this land. You know, Kalos is a very unsafe place for a Rocketeer like yourself to travel alone. Please help our cause so we can help you. Let's establish a true deal."

    "Anthony!" Piper screeched, "We don't need to make any deals with it. When a Teer accepts hospitality it is required to accept any orders without question, that's the rule for any Pokémon that's free in an organization like Team Rocket."

    "What?" Ash thought as her complaints fell on deaf ears.

    "So what do you say? Can we make a deal?"

    Meowth's eyes narrow for a moment towards Anthony, "Would you really help me?" He asked hesitantly.

    Anthony nods with a warm smile trying to put the nervous Pokémon at ease. Meowth became quiet again, looking at the new people, looking at Anthony. He started to feel even more uneasy as the feeling of being truly alone this time started to sink in. He couldn't keep them waiting for an answer, as the uneasy feeling grew it felt harder to say "no". However, to say "yes" didn't feel wrong either. Meowth looked to Anthony and it was ready to give its answer.

    "Stop!" Ash interjects, "Meowth shouldn't have to owe you guys anything."

    "That's right!" Serena stated.

    "There's no need to force Meowth, we would have helped you regardless if you just asked us." Clemont declared.

    "That's very nice of you kids and your help will be appreciated tomorrow. However, this needs to be done. Having a Pokémon with a background in an organization like Team Rocket is just too good of an opportunity to pass up." Anthony said.

    "What do you mean?" Ash inquired.

    "Oh, it's just that their Pokémon are highly trained to…Ouch!" Faye elbowed her husband.

    "My husband tends to get ahead of himself." She chuckles as she gave Meowth an apologetic look quickly before turning her attention onto Ash and his friends.

    "It's for the safety of all the Pokémon."

    "But I don't understand. Team Rocket," Ash paused as so many thoughts rushed to the front of his mind that he couldn't speak. Team Rocket being behind the attacks seemed more logical, but Anthony sounded very confident in his judgment. Ash couldn't help but look in Meowth's direction, it wasn't looking at him or any of his friends or Pokémon. It wasn't even looking at the hiker's family. Maybe it was looking out the window since there was a window in the direction it was facing. He then saw it clench its paws into little fists, shaking them slightly on its sides. It quickly stopped as its paws became loose. Ash looked away briefly as he pushed back all the circling questions. He then started to move slowly towards it by taking one small step.

    "Please try to understand." Ash stopped in his place as Piper interrupted his train of thought. "This Meowth is not under anyone's command. It shall be done this way so that every party acts accordingly." Piper was calm but was more stoic in her approach. She then turned to Meowth.

    "Well?" Her calm demeanor shrank in size as impatience started to fill the void in the sound of her voice. "Will you make the pledge with us?"

    "Fine." Meowth whispers.

    "Where are your manners?" Piper chastised, "That is not how it is done. This is an official deal, you are to give us your pledge as we will do the same."

    Meowth tightens his glare towards the overbearing brown-haired woman before reluctantly following through by putting its right paw over its heart and reaching out with an open left paw.

    "I accept." He said with determination no matter how upset he was with the circumstances. Anthony and his family returned the gesture, leaving everyone else completely speechless.

    Ash couldn't help but look in Meowth's direction once more. Again it wasn't looking at him or anyone. Maybe it was looking at the window again, he wasn't sure as it's posture was more relaxed making it seem that Meowth was staring at a bare wall since the window was a little higher up for a Pokémon its size.

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    While everyone was sound asleep, Ash was wide awake staring up at the ceiling. Taking a look around the room he noticed that Meowth was nowhere in sight. He slowly got up to not disturb Pikachu who was sleeping beside his pillow. He walked over to the bedroom's window to look outside. It was a full moon tonight. It was so big and bright in the clear night sky. Looking down he spotted Meowth sitting on the edge of the canyon while basking under the moonlight.

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    Feeling the cool breeze that only the night could offer, Meowth continued his gaze up at the big full moon. There was just something about the moon that always made Meowth feel at ease when he looked up at it. The moon seemed to have some sort of power over Meowth, as it seemed to cleanse all of his anger and frustration. He felt connected to it somehow as if he could hear it saying, "My light will protect you."

    **Click, clack, click, clack, click, clack**

    His ears twitched as he straightened his posture.

    "Can't sleep?" Meowth looked over his shoulder to see the twerp was walking up to him.

    "No, I just like looking at the moon," Meowth said earnestly as he returned his gaze.

    "Oh, well I can't" Ash paused. "May I join you?"

    Meowth remained quiet as it remained fixated on the moon while Ash sat down beside it. Quietly observing the moon was nice and all but the silence felt unending to Ash. He side glanced the quiet Pokémon beside him as it was staring at the moon. As the moonlight reflected in its eyes, it felt like Meowth has forgotten it had company as it stared blankly at the moon. As his chest started to feel hot and as his fists started to clench against the ground, he had to look away. Looking to the side Ash saw a shooting star.

    "Ah, A Shooting Star!" He stood up. "I wish to become a Pokémon Master!"

    "Tch…"

    Ash flashed a strict look down at Meowth for that snicker. He then sat back down next to it as thoughts of what happened at dinner resurfaced. His narrow eyes lessened as he became calm and held an undemanding look in his eyes.

    "What did Anthony mean about you and Team Rocket at Grandpa canyon? I was there remember, and what he said just doesn't add up to me." Meowth didn't respond nor did it acknowledge him as it remained fixated on the moon.

    "Meowth, why don't you just quit Team Rocket for good, if you did you wouldn't be forced into situations like this." Meowth eyed him slightly before returning its full gaze onto the moon.

    "It's complicated" Meowth mumbled.

    "But why?"

    "It's a long story?"

    "Tell me about it. I'm willing to listen."

    "Well I'm not willing to talk about it, so drop it!" Meowth snapped. Ash quickly stood up, stomping his feet in the process. The hot sensation in his chest grew due to that response.

    "I'm going back to bed!" He said bitterly, "You should too!"

    "I'd rather sleep outside tonight," Meowth answered coolly. Ash's hard stare softened as the hot sensation inside simmered as if water was poured over him to cool him down.

    "It's not because of them," Meowth answered steadily as he continued his gaze at the moon, "I like being outside especially on nights like this one. The moon, the stars, the light breezes and the fresh clean air of a full moon's night…its…peaceful." Meowth said soothingly with a slight smile as he looked up at Ash. Ash looked at Meowth's smile for a moment taking in how the moonlight seemed to illuminate the cream colored cat.

    "Goodnight…Meowth." He said gently as a sincere smile started to grow.

    "Goodnight twerp." Meowth returned.

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    It was over an hour since the twerp went back inside, as Meowth heard the heavy footsteps of Anthony coming out to join him.

    "About our deal," Anthony lingers, "…what would you like in return?"
    Chapter 6
    Chapter 6: Rocky Trails: Part II

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    "Sounds of water rippling through my body…"

    **Click, clack, click, clack, click, clack**

    "Where are those footsteps coming from…"? Meowth begins to look but remembers the blinding light. This time it was careful about the powerful sunlight. However it turned out it didn't have to since there was no sun this time, it was just a clear blue sky. Meowth noticed it was on some trail high in the mountains and was able to see that far off in the distance were tall mountain peaks that were lightly covered in snow. A light began to twinkle hovering around those peaks.

    "What is that?" Suddenly sounds of grievous shrieks came hurling at it as the footsteps sounded closer and louder. Meowth ran in the direction that was headed towards the highest mountain peaks. The path was never straightforward but always unwinding. It was running down a rocky path surrounded by the rock walls of the mountains.

    **Click, clack, click, clack, click, clack**

    The footsteps picked up their pace too. Soon the path and scenery blackened, nothing could be seen except for the twinkling light in the far distance. Meowth continued to run as the footsteps and shrieking noises were still after him. Trying to look for a new path Meowth realized it was running on a big white clock with both hands pointing forward and not moving. To its right it saw another clock, it was moving, but backward and to its left was another clock, but that one was moving forward.

    **Tic-tock, tic-tock, tic-tock, tic-tock**

    **Click, clack, click, clack, click, clack**

    The ticking clocks, fast-paced footsteps and the shrieking all seemed to be chasing Meowth when finally it entered a grassy field. The sound of the clocks stopped, the mountains were still far off in the distance but the twinkling light was coming closer. As the orb of light finally reached Meowth it landed onto Meowth's koban and allowed itself to be absorbed causing Meowth's koban to glow bright enough to silence the shrieking noises for good.

    **Click, clack, click, clack, click, clack**

    The footsteps were loud as if they were right behind him when they stopped. Blades of grass flew about as it slowly turned around to see who it was. In the far off distance standing in the grassy field was a tall dark human figure covered in shadows, as the human moved his hand Meowth became entangled by the grass dragging it down into darkness. Trying to fight it off Meowth turns to see the mountain peaks again as the flickering light returned to hovering around the mountain peaks. Unable to breathe among the darkness, Meowth blacks out.

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    Meowth jolted up as he gasped for air, realizing it was just a dream. It was still nightfall and Meowth was still near the edge of the canyon. Realizing he was still shaking and his heart was still beating fast, he decided that staying in one place won't do him any good. He decided to go for a walk, he went down the path that leads to the bottom of the canyon. The cold, windy climate changed to warm humidity as he entered the lush forest. He was able to pick up the sounds of the river that was coming from different directions. He concluded that there may be more than one river in the area. He walked towards the river that sounded the closest, the grass felt soft, the smells of the leaves were fresh, the full moon was as bright as ever, but his heart was still beating fast.

    He reached the riverbank and sat down, spotting the moon's reflection in the water. He looked up at the night sky, his heart didn't slow down, he was still quivering as images of the dream flashed before his eyes. A tear threatened to come down, it rolled down the side of his cheek. Meowth continues to look at the moon but through blurry eyes. Then he begins to lower his head into his paws as he can't contain his emotions for the rest of the night.

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    "I'm so tired."
    Meowth thought as the sun began to rise. "I didn't get any sleep again." Meowth sighed inwardly.

    Meowth took a quick look at his reflection to make sure he looked relatively "normal". After cleaning himself and washing away any evidence of last night even happening, Meowth quickly ran back up to the cabin before anyone woke up.

    Unfortunately, Faye was sitting on the edge of the canyon, the same spot where Meowth was last night. She was watching the sunrise and spotted Meowth coming up the path.

    "The sun always seems happier after the night of a full moon, doesn't it?" She asked. Meowth looks at the sun as it gradually reclaims the sky as its own once again. Meowth also sees familiar high mountain peaks in the far off distance.

    "Do you know how far away those are?" Faye looks to where Meowth was pointing too.

    She smiles sweetly, "These mountains hold lots of secrets and timing is of the essence,"

    "Timing?" Meowth thought as the images of the clocks from his dream came back to the surface. "My dream?"

    Faye continues, "I am sure when the time is right you will understand why these mountains call for you in the night."

    "Huh…" Meowth's eyes widened at Faye's claim. "She knows?"

    She smiles her warm smile as she gets up, ready to go back inside. "I happen to have a secret stash of chocolate chip cookies. If we hurry we can have some before my sister-in-law finds out." She winks as she giggles at her last comment.

    "That is if you're feeling up to eating something."

    "Cookies? Uh...yeah, I guess I could." Meowth smiles warmly back at her. "She has such a warm light about her."

    "Um," She turns to face him, "…I can see you." He spoke gently as a light blush began to take form on the small Pokémon.

    She returns a sweet smile, "I can see the light in you too."

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    The plan sounded simple enough. Faye and Piper were tasked with taking the fossil Pokémon by going in a different direction than the group. Anthony handed each one of the kids a decoy. They were to be a distraction to lure the vandals towards them. According to Anthony, going straight through Alemaca Valley would lead them to Cularo Town. A simple endeavor compared to what they shall embark on today. Instead of a simple walk through the valley's forest, there will be some, as Anthony puts it "aggressive hiking."

    Apparently, there are a couple of paths that could lead one to Cularo Town. Anthony seemed to have all the answers as if he had the whole mountain range mapped out on the back of his hand. However, when it came to asking where the true destination for the endangered Pokémon will be, Anthony and his family resisted on revealing exact details.

    Vaguely disheartened to see Faye go, Meowth waved goodbye with the others as they watched Faye and Piper leave with the precious cargo. Anthony then called out his Aerodactyl who had a harness with a very distinctive stone that was similar to the one on Anthony's belt.

    "I will be flying about to draw their attention towards us. I'm usually the one who collects the injured Pokémon and bring them back and forth from our cabin, by doing this we make our trick seem more authentic. In the meantime, follow the grey stones that border the trail, they will lead you to our next step."

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    The kids were in for a surprise. Alemaca Valley wasn't as straightforward as they thought it would be. It took a good chuck out of their day. The vegetation was dense and the river made the area feel uneven by splitting off in different directions, causing the canyon walls and mountains surrounding Alemaca Valley to have different elevations. It made them thankful that they ran into Anthony when they did but it also made them wonder if the "straight shot" way to Cularo Town was truly straightforward. Or maybe Anthony's idea of straightforward maybe a little skewed.

    Bonnie started to clench to her brother's side, the perpetrators have yet to make their presence known and the anticipation of an attack was growing for everyone. As they reached a canyon wall, they noticed that it was very smooth not jagged enough to climb. The wall also had caves spread out on its side just like the caves they saw when they were standing at the canyon's edge by the cabin. They also noticed that there was no walking path for them to take. Well, there was one when they looked higher up. How they were supposed to reach it was anyone's guess. Anthony reappeared by landing next to them.

    "Alright, come out you two!" He shouted up at the wall. Two Magcargo came out off one of the caves sliding down the wall to greet their companion.

    "Mag, Magcargo."

    Anthony pointed the kids towards two small wooden coalmine carts; "Magcargo will be pulling you up while you are riding in one of those carts over there. As you head up you will be passing by a few caves, once your near one I want you to place one of the decoys you are carrying at the mouth of the cave."

    "WHAT!?" The kids screeched fearfully.

    "Ha, Ha. Don't worry its completely safe. My kids used to race each other all the time. Ha, Ha, nothing bad will happen."

    "But we're supposed to be decoys!" Clemont pointed out.

    "Ha, Ha, Don't worry I will have your back as I will be flying with Aerodactyl. They have always witnessed me doing it before, it has to be convincing. Besides you having flying Pokémon too if we do get ourselves into a real bind they can help." Anthony wasn't doing much help in calming their nerves.

    "Let's just get this over with," Meowth muttered agitatedly as he walked towards one of the carts.

    "You're not scared?" Bonnie asked while still clenched to her brother.

    Meowth ignored her question as it hopped onto the side of the cart. Surprising everyone with its changed demeanor, as if they could never imagine Meowth having such a side to it. The look in its eyes…it was new to them. What was that look, it didn't look like fear or anger. Its eyes seemed sort of detached at first, but there was a fleeting light in its eyes…did they see that right? Was it, could it be..that look, what is that look?

    "Now that's the Rocketeer spirit! Ha, Ha!"

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    The carts had seat buckles for everyone to strap himself or herself securely. The Magcargo pulled the carts vertically up the canyon wall at a snail's pace. Ash and Serena were in one cart as Ash held on to Pikachu tightly and Clemont and Bonnie were in the other as Clemont held onto his sister tightly. Due to going up vertically, the top side of the cart was like another seat and Meowth sat on the front side of Clemont and Bonnie's cart. It was like he was riding an elevator as he looked down at the two and watched the distance between them and the ground floor grow.

    "And to think that Piper thought you twerps were agents, Phft." Meowth said mockingly awarding him cold glares. Coming up close to a cave opening Meowth begins to stand up.

    "Meowth could you please sit inside the cart your making us all very nervous," Serena spoke nervously.

    Meowth continues to ignore them as it grabs one of the decoys to place it inside the opening of the cave. As it was reaching to put the decoy in, large razor leaves came flying, cutting Meowth's arm, causing him to accidentally drop the decoy only to be caught by Anthony on his Aerodactyl. Another attack of razor leaves came flying as one of them came near the cord that Magcargo was pulling them up with. In the distance, they started to see three humans. Each one of them were riding a Tropius. In unison, they shoot again with another razor leaf attack, aiming even closer to both cords and actually grazing one.

    "Hawlucha, Noivern, Talonflame I choose you!" Ash called out their attacks but they were unable to follow through successfully because of the sun. Meowth tries to get a better look at them but they were using the sun to their advantage.

    "Ah…My dream…" Meowth remembered the blinding light and how the flashing light scared away the shrieks. Tilting his head at a certain angle, he began to playfully tap his koban.

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    The attackers were in a triangular formation as they were attacking from a distance but were suddenly blinded by a flashing light. They started to lose control of their Troppius as they tumbled in the air. The riders quickly pulled their Pokémon back under their control, by flying out of the way of the blinding light to get a better visual and to keep their defenses in tack. However, the blinding light came back causing the three riders to spread out and out of the sunlight.

    Meowth followed their movements as he jumped off of the safety of the cart's side onto the ledge of a cave down below while keeping his head tilted at a certain angle.

    "WHOA!" Everyone exclaimed.

    "Has Meowth completely lost it?" Bonnie cried. More razor leaf attacks came flying as Meowth dodged them and made another jump up to a smaller ledge that was just above the cave it was on. It was now the attackers only target. Anthony and his Aerodactyl moved in closer to have Meowth's back.

    "Hawlucha, go help Meowth. Noivern, Talonflame now's our chance!" Ash ordered. The Pokémon did as they were told. The attackers were no longer protected by the sun. Ash shouted his order of attacks, taking full advantage of what Meowth has provided for them. Hawlucha flew by Meowth but kept its distance. After all, it was still the scratch cat Pokémon that has always caused harm to them in the past. Hawlucha watched Meowth jump high and low, left to right as it dodged every razor leaf or falling rock perfectly. All the while keeping the blinding light on the targets at hand. It was hard to not watch the intriguing sight, so much so that for a moment Hawlucha forgot that they are both in the mists of a battle.

    Clemont was closely observing how the attackers and Meowth were moving. "It must be using its koban!" He declared.

    "Huh?" Everyone snapped their attention to Clemont.

    "They were using the sunlight to blind us so Meowth must have figured it out that it could do the same thing by using its koban. But it still doesn't make any sense, that would only be a small flicker of light, not enough to affect them unless…" Clemont watches Meowth jump to another ledge that was lower and smaller than the one before dodging all the attacks effortlessly as a bright flash from its koban appeared.

    "I know its using flash! It's combining its use of flash with the sun, that's how Meowth is blinding them."

    "But Meowth said it doesn't know any moves," Ash muttered. "I knew it! It was lying about that!" He shouted enthusiastically.

    **BOOM**

    The canyon wall shook violently. Large boulders began to fall as the gang held on to each other as the carts vibrated due to such a large crash against the canyon wall.

    One of the Tropius head-butted into the wall, two centimeters away from Meowth. The speed and the mass amount of force of the head-butt along with the Tropius's size and weight caused the small ledge Meowth was standing on to break apart. Meowth didn't see it coming. It was as if it came out of nowhere. It didn't give Meowth a chance to react in time as the ledge he was standing on broke apart. He was now hanging on by holding on what little was left by one paw.

    Tropius's head was still leaning on the wall that it crashed into. Its nose flared as Meowth felt the heat of its breath. Its piercing eyes adjusted its glare towards Meowth. What was even more intimidating was the man that was riding it. From head to toe, the man was covered in black. Long black trench coat with a hood over the man's head. Matching black pants, black gloves, and a black turtleneck that had its collar covering most of his face. The rider slowly turned his head to face Meowth, staring him down with eyes covered in small black shades that reflected Meowth's image.

    "MEOWTH!" Everyone cried.

    The man looked up at the kids then back at Meowth. Only in arms-length the man and his Tropius slowly turn to face the dangling feline directly as the other two riders dressed in the same outfit came in closer. All three Tropius begin to warm up their solar beam attack.

    Ash jumps onto Noivern flying it down towards Meowth, "Noivern use boom burst!"

    Light waves came blasting towards the three dark riders causing them to back off. Ash tries to get to Meowth only to be beaten by Anthony and his now Mega Aerodactyl.

    "AERO!" Mega Aerodactyl roared. The man continued to stare Meowth down who was now safe in Anthony's arms. His men were behind him ready to attack, but stop as their leader signals them to leave. The dark trio flies away in retreat as their leader takes one last look at Meowth.

    Bewildered by what just happened, as his breathing became irregular, Meowth watched the fleeing trio as he felt Anthony's grip tighten around him.

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    "By taking this path you will enter Lavselle Valley in about a days time. From there it will lead you straight into Cularo Town." Anthony stated to a puzzled group of kids side glancing their emotionless feline traveling companion.

    "I want to thank you all. From the bottom of my heart, I am truly grateful. Because of you, I know my wife and sister made it to the safe haven for our Poké Pals."

    "Who were those people?" Ash asked still confused about the event that unfolded.

    "Lets just say they were people who wish to impose their own beliefs onto others." Anthony turns his focus onto Meowth.

    "According to our deal, we will meet again when I have met my end of the bargain." He smiles, as he is about to mount onto Aerodactyl he stops to think. He then looks back at Meowth, "Little Rocketeer, remember this for me: What is today will become yesterday tomorrow."

    "Huh?" Meowth asked, baffled by the strange use of words.

    Anthony laughs loudly in his heavy booming voice, "Timing is everything when it comes to secrets. Ha, Ha!"

    He sprung on to Aerodactyl and flew off waving goodbye as he went back towards his cabin.

    "Meowth, what was the deal you made with him?" Ash asked still confused by pretty much everything.

    "That's none of your business!" Meowth barked crossly as it resumes the journey. Ash scowled at its attitude. He then ran in front of it, blocking it from going any further as a small smile started to take shape.

    "Just wait a minute." He said as Meowth took its turn to scowl while exhaling its frustration. "What you did back there was incredible."

    Meowth took a step back as it absorbed the nice compliment and the tall humans surrounding it. It lowered its head, looking at the smooth dirt it was standing on.

    "Thanks...I guess." It muttered, then started to walk around Ash but he got in front of it again.

    "WHAT!?" It snapped.

    "It's just that I rarely see you battle."

    "That's because I don't battle." Meowth tried to walk around Ash again but he got in front of it again.

    "Well whenever you did, you didn't do much." Ash's smile started to grow bigger as Meowth narrowed its eyes as it looked at him. It tried to go around him again but met the same result.

    "Wait, I just want to talk to you."

    Meowth lowered its head while clenching its paws. It growled bitterly to itself. It then released its shaking paws as it shifted its melancholy gaze to its side. Then it looked up at Ash with dark, hollow eyes.

    "I would have been better off if I had left you paralyzed in the woods." It said emotionlessly. Meowth proceeded to move around Ash as he remained still.

    "Or better yet I should have tried to steal something from you in the beginning. It would have solved at least one of my problems." Meowth added as Ash tightened his fists, gritting his teeth as he lowered his head.

    "Why you..." He thought venomously as he turned to face the back of the scratch cat Pokémon who was walking on ahead.

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    ***Flashback***


    "I see, do you have any idea who could have done this?"

    "That's just it, I don't even remember how I got there in the first place. But I do remember our rendezvous point is in Anbero City for moments like this."

    "Hm…unfortunately my guess is that it's not Team Flare's doing since they happen to have their own objectives in mind. No, my guess would be that it was…well…" Anthony tries to find the words.

    "Meowth, you are aware of the wars that have happened in the past, right?" Meowth nods. "Kalos had its fair share of wars too and teams like Team Flare or Team Rocket have played their parts back then as well. Although, they weren't calling themselves Flares or Rockets. That concept is still relatively new. I say this because those people who have been attacking us here are not your usual vandals." Meowth stares at him intensely.

    "The people that separated you and the people that are attacking us, I believe are one and the same."

    "Who are they?"

    "We are not entirely sure ourselves, but what we do know is that they have tried to infiltrate other teams by sending in undercover operatives for their own needs. Bottom line is they are not to be taken lightly." Meowth listens attentively as it tries hard to mask its own anxieties.

    "Don't worry! Ha, Ha! I'm sure Team Rocket could handle them if it ever came down to it. I will meet you in Anbero City with any news I can gather. These mountains contain more secrets than you realize. Ha, Ha!" Meowth takes in a deep breath before exhaling to allow its fears to be washed away by the light of the full moon.

    "Thank you," he murmurs, "…Team Oyama."

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    Author notes:

    Team Oyama- means mountain, king of the rock/castle/etc. Team Oyama is my own creation and they are a team that specialize…you guessed it rock/ground types.

    When it comes to Pokémon moves I do look it up before I officially right it but I will make up my own move list here or there…when that happens I will make a note of it as well. But if a move was listed in any of the categories like move tutor, egg traits or whatever (no matter the generation difference) I feel that is fair game. Also this is a fanfic based on a show that likes to give consistency migraines so I think its ok.

    When it comes to Meowth not knowing attacks...like Ash in the story I don't buy it either. Normally in these situations people tend to lean towards where Ash is the knight in shining armor who can do anything and make any Pokémon shine. I think that's a bad way to go in the case of Meowth. Meowth should already know moves, it shouldn't have to be taught by Ash or any of the "heroes" that it has "great potential". Meowth is a character that has a lot of pride and being taught by someone that you were at odds with needs to be done delicately. I have read fanfics where Ash does capture Meowth and he is able to teach it everything because it didn't know how to fight at all, to me that's giving Ash way to much credit and for a character like Meowth that's like adding salt to the wounds.

    According to what I have read I know that Hawlucha probably comes off OC since Hawlucha has an "honor" system. Originally I was going to have one of the Pokémon save Meowth at their own will and have Meowth who would then jump over to Anthony for safety with that Pokémon hesitant to leave it with Anthony, but decided to change it. With that said I will be diving into it a little bit more as the story continues, but my main reason for keeping majority of the Pokémon bitter towards Meowth is not just because of their past but also because it can talk. Looking back on the show even when a Pokémon didn't even know about Meowth's connections they still were indifferent towards it, unless they were outcasts themselves. Just like what Meowize said to him after showing her he could do it, she called him a freak and that its unnatural and I think this is actually a pretty good insight on what majority of Pokémon think in general. There's more to this angle and I will discuss it further when I get further into it.
    Chapter 7
    Chapter 7: Bread Crumbs and Shattered Paths​

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    "Sounds of water rippling through my body..."

    **Click, clack, click, clack, click, clack**

    "Where are those footsteps coming from..."?

    The footsteps were loud as if they were right behind him when they stopped. Blades of grass flew about as it slowly turned around. In the far of distance standing in the grassy field was a tall dark human covered in shadows, as the human moved his hand Meowth became entangled by the grass dragging it down into darkness. Trying to fight it off Meowth turns to see the mountain peaks again as the flickering light hovers around them. Remembering the light scaring the shrieks away it activates its flash causing a bright light to engulf everything and the grass releases Meowth. The light fades and reveals that Meowth is back in the mountains surrounded by rock walls and a rocky trail that leads upwards as the highest mountain peaks with the light twinkling in the sky were behind him. The orb of light moves in closer at lighting speed passing Meowth overhead.

    " These mountains call for you..." Faye's voice echoes within the mountains.

    **Tic-tock, tic-tock, tic-tock, tic-tock**

    "Timing is everything..." Anthony's voice follows as the sound of ticking clocks fills the air.

    Meowth begins to follow up the trail in the direction of where the light went. The trail was winding up around and down into a valley in the lower part of the mountains that was bear of any form of plant light. The high mountain peaks in the far off distance were behind him and the orb of light was floating above, right in front him. The light started to continue moving forward into a cave. Meowth started to follow but a giant white clock, that sort of resembled the moon, blocked its path.

    **Tic-tock, tic-tock, tic-tock, tic-tock**

    **Click, clack, click, clack, click, clack**

    The footsteps returned and they were loud as if they were right behind him when they stopped. Slowly turning to only see none other than the dark shadowy figure standing right beside him as blades of grass flew about. The human slowly reached his dark hand out to touch Meowth's forehead, as cold, dark air seemed to emanate from the man's body.

    "GET AWAY FROM ME!" He screamed. Frightened by the man's presence Meowth loses feeling in his body as he gradually begins to blackout...

    "Secrets," he heard a whisper as everything was going dark, "...in the mountains."

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    Waking up aggressively and feeling a cold sweat on its paws, Meowth realized it was just a dream. It was still the middle of the night and everyone was sleeping peacefully in his or her tent. Meowth was sleeping in a tree a little ways away from the group. Realizing he was still shaking and his heart was pounding hard, Meowth decided to walk it off for a bit while hoping that he didn't wake anyone up.

    He walked far away from the campsite and stumbled upon a stream. He sat down at the bank of the stream, then looked up at the night sky. Still quivering with a fast beating heart, a tear rolled down on the side of his cheek. Meowth lowers his head into his paws as he lost control of his emotions for the rest of the night.

    As daybreak approached, Meowth was laying on his back watching the sky change its colors through groggy eyes.

    "I didn't get any sleep at all again." He sighed as he sat up straight and took a look at his reflection in the stream. He made sure that he looked normal enough to continue passing on his act of normalcy. He took one big deep breath and exhaled, ready to face another day with the twerps. As he started to head back, something yummy looking appeared in the corner of his eye. He felt his instincts stir due to the opportunity of an easy hunt. But the urge or desire to fulfill his instinctual actions were amiss. His body felt heavier, his muscles felt nimble but the natural urge to fulfill his body's needs was gone. Instead, he took the time to drink some water...it was better than nothing.

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    Meowth noticed the gang was preparing breakfast for everyone as he got closer to the group. He was welcomed with many unfriendly stares by most of the Pokémon while others kept their distance and remained indifferent. Pancham was the first friendly face to run up to Meowth wishing him a good morning. It was soon followed by Bunnelby and Chespin, both coming off friendlier than they did before. Meowth was taken back by the sudden friendly faces, he responds by shyly nodding and tries to turn back around. However, Meowth accidentally bumps into Hawlucha, who held an unreadable expression with its wings crossed. Meowth took a step back as he broke eye contact while Hawlucha continued to study him. Meowth felt that the stream was a much better place to be compared to impassive Pokémon surrounding it, so it walked around Hawlucha to try to get away from such a negative group.

    "Meowth, we're all about to have breakfast, please join us." Serena expressed in a friendly tone.

    "I'm usually not that hungry in the morning." He replied, trying his best to sound as lighthearted as possible.

    "But breakfast is the most important meal of the day." Clemont said.

    "Maybe for humans." Meowth said in a snarky fashion. "Besides I kind of already ate something earlier so I'm not hungry." Meowth turned around to head for the tree it tried to sleep in last night.

    "Don't miss out on a free meal!" Bonnie exclaimed as she popped in front of Meowth. Surprised by her outburst, he took a step back but felt his knees become weak and fell backward instead. Meowth quickly got up to cover it up as if he was just being clumsy. He tried another attempt to walk towards the tree but Hawlucha intervened by blocking his path again.

    "You're not going anywhere!" Ash demanded, "Now come over here and join us." The twerp motioned to the picnic table.

    Meowth paused as his last memory flashed before his eyes upon seeing the picnic table. Meowth then released his frustration in one giant sigh as he reluctantly joined in by sitting at the table with the kids and Pikachu. Serena offers again but is quickly denied.

    "You don't think we're going to try to force you to do something do you?" Clemont asked worriedly.

    "I told you I'm just not that hungry right now," Meowth answered tiredly. "Besides you're already forcing me to travel with you so I assure you that's not the case."

    "You ate food from us all the time in Unova," Ash recalled.

    "Ugh...How many times do I have to say it? I was tricking you, you stupid twerp!" He shouted.

    "What was that!" "PIKA!" Ash countered as he slammed his hand onto the table.

    "Ash calm down," Serena said calmly as she returned to the Pokémon in question, "What did they mean about making deals since they offered you their hospitality?"

    "It's just protocol that Team Rocket came up with. Although, it's also a natural thing that Pokémon practice too."

    "How's that?" Clemont questioned.

    "To put it in layman's terms I'm technically a wild Pokémon and accepting food from any and every human I come into contact with is considered unwise among wild Pokémon. So with that in mind Team Rocket and I guess other teams like Team Flare created rules that matched with our natural instincts."

    "But we already made a deal with you remember." Ash pointed out.

    "It's more complicated than that twerp."

    "Quit calling me twerp! Its Ash...my name is Ash."

    "As I was saying...TWERP...it's complicated."

    "But you're getting a free meal!" Bonnie chimed in.

    "Tch...nothing in life is free twerps. There's actually an old saying that Pokémon have. Hmm," Meowth paused briefly, "The best way to translate it is this: The small bread crumb is free, but eating it will bind you down."

    "What's that supposed to mean?" Ash asked still slightly irritated by the last "twerp" remark.

    "It means free food equals getting captured and turned into some Stupid Mindless Pet!" He shouted the last few words venomously. Causing an uproar from the other Pokémon.

    "PIKA PI, PIKACHU PI PI PIKACHU CHU CHU!" Pikachu yelled at the uncaring cat.

    "I'm Leaving!" Meowth shouted. "So hurry it up if you're going to keep on insisting that we should travel together!" Meowth walked off angrily as the cold glares from the infuriated Pokémon stared him down.

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    Meowth walks off and jumps up into the tree it tried to sleep in last night.

    "Pancham, Pan!" Pancham yells up the tree hoping Meowth would come down. Meowth obliges Pancham's request, however, he was unmoved by Pancham's plea of wanting to be friends.

    "Please just leave me alone," Meowth mumbled exhaustedly. Meowth sighs heavily realizing he may have been too harsh, it did save him from being captured after all. Meowth leans his back against the tree trunk then slides down, not wanting to make eye contact Meowth looked to his side as his eyes felt heavy.

    "Why do you even want to be my friend anyway?" He mumbled forlornly.

    Taken back by that question, Pancham was unable to answer due to hearing its name being called.

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    As everyone called back their Pokémon, Serena watched Pancham with pride in her eyes. She enjoyed witnessing Pancham trying its best to get along with Meowth. As its trainer, she knows that Pancham has a bit of a hard time getting along with the other Pokémon as well. Despite Meowth not being entirely open with Pancham, she could see that Meowth was slowly but surely warming up to the idea of a new friend.

    "Probably isn't used to that kind of attention." Serena thought sorrowfully. "There's a lot of things we never really knew about Meowth."

    As Pancham finally reaches Serena, Serena bends down to its level as an idea popped into her head.

    "Pancham do you want to walk with us?" She asked as she winked at it.

    "Pancham, Pan!" Pancham happily accepts her kind offer and runs back to rejoin Meowth who was still sitting by the tree.

    "What was that about?" Ash asked.

    "Pancham has a hard time getting along with the other Pokémon too. Meowth has obvious reasons, but the two seem to be getting along. I just think we have been going about this the wrong way. Meowth needs to be able to feel like its apart of the group and since Pancham seems to be the only one on friendly terms, that maybe our best bet."

    "That's a good point, Pikachu you could join them if you want." "Pi, Pikachu!" Pikachu rejects the idea as if it were beneath him.

    "What about you Dedenne?" Bonnie asked. "De, De!" Dedenne gave the same response.

    "I guess they're still mad about what Meowth said," Clemont suggested. "Pika!" "De!"

    "We all just need to give it a chance. This may be the long way to go about it but I do believe if Meowth starts seeing Pancham or any of our Pokémon as a true friend then maybe it might just change its mind about Team Rocket...having a true friend could make all the difference." Serena expressed with high hopes in her eyes.

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    The gang resumes their journey on the dirt path surrounded by grassy hills and the wide Lavselle Valley's grassy fields that could be seen in the distance. The tall mountains were becoming distant. Meowth was walking slowly behind the gang with a new companion by his side. It wasn't so bad since Pancham didn't talk his ears off, he almost felt bad that he was walking abnormally slow and that Pancham was willing to walk at his pace. However, he just couldn't help it since his muscles felt heavy with each step that he takes. There was also a strange feeling that was growing inside of him like a dark cloud was looming over him and was growing bigger the further he went. Every now and then Meowth would stop and catch a glimpse of the tall mountain peaks covered in snow. Sometimes when the land permitted it, he would get a clear sight of those tall mountains that were so far away. Meowth once again looked down at the smooth dirt road he was walking on then turned to see those snow-covered mountains in the distance.

    "I feel like I'm going the wrong way." Lost in thought, Meowth starts thinking about the dark riders and the dreams that he's been having.

    "Who were they?"

    "Meowth..."

    "Could they have done something to Jessie and James?"

    "Meowth..."

    "Secrets in the mountains?"

    "Meowth..."

    "What kind of secrets?"

    "Meowth..."

    "What does it all mean?"

    "MEOWTH!"

    "Huh..." Meowth bumps into a human's leg and falls down, "Eh...Huh...Wha?" Meowth looks up to see Ash's displeased expression.

    "Geez, learn to pay attention. I was asking you a question."

    "Huh...Yeah, what?" Meowth asked still caught in his daze.

    "About what they said back at the cabin, what's a Rocketeer?" Ash managed to sound calm despite having to repeat himself the tenth time. However, Meowth didn't responed again. As it was in the middle of picking itself up, it stopped and stared at a patch of grass. His friends gathered to his side as they watched Meowth reach for a leaf and pull it out of the ground.

    "Meowth..." He repeated. Meowth didn't make any notion that it heard him as it stared at the grass petal closely then watched it get blown away.

    "MEOWTH!" He shouted.

    It jumped up to its feet. "Huh...What...Where?" It said as it quickly looked around. It finally acknowledged that Ash was looking down at it, then innocently pointed to itself. "Were you talking to me?"

    Ash scratched the side of his head as he and the rest of his friends held a bewildered look.

    "You're really weird," Bonnie stated point-blank. It was like an arrow went through Meowth but sadly this isn't the first time that Meowth was told that he was weird.

    "Why did we stop?" Meowth observed. "Don't tell me you twerps want to take another break." It whined.

    "NO!" Ash snapped. "I was asking you a question."

    "And then you got weird," Bonnie added. Clemont patted her head and sighed, feeling slightly embarrassed by his sister's bluntness.

    "More like you lost focus," Clemont said to make it sound more appealing.

    "And it's getting annoying," Ash added as his friends tensed up.

    "Sorry, there's just a lot on my mind," Meowth spoke softly. Ash's furrowed brows relaxed as his expression became less strict.

    "I'm not trying to be a bother to anyone. I think we would all be happier if I left. So let's just call it quits and go our separate ways." Meowth said calmly and started to back away, ready to go back to where they came from.

    "That's not what I want!" Ash quickly said, surprising himself in the process. Pikachu and the others seemed surprised as well.

    "Pika Pi?" It questioned. Ash lowered his head as the lid of his hat covered his eyes.

    "I..." He started, "It would be nice if we got to know you a little more." He spoke gently as his friends nodded in agreement.

    "That's a bad idea." Meowth quickly said. "I will be rejoining Team Rocket soon so there really is no point in getting to know each other." It said monotonously. Ash looked up to see that Meowth seemed content with that fact, he started to feel a burning sensation growing inside of him as he tightened his fists. His furrowed brows relaxed as he regained a complacent demeanor.

    "Speaking of Team Rocket, Anthony said you are a Rocketeer. What does that mean?" He asked.

    "Rocketeer?" Meowth questioned, "Oh yeah...that. It's been a while since someone has called me that."

    "So what does it mean?" Serena repeated the question.

    "That's classified information! Ha, Ha" Meowth said smiling lightheartedly. It was then greeted by unamused expressions.

    "Can't you twerps take a joke? Sheesh!" Meowth said. "It's what they call Pokémon who work for Team Rocket but don't have an official trainer. We work for Team Rocket as independent agents. For example, Wobbuffet is Jessie's Pokémon and will always be hers unless she decides to release it or trade it. I, however, don't belong to anyone, so that makes me a Rocketeer."

    "So what was the deal about you having to give a pledge to them?" Bonnie asked.

    "That's just some old tradition. When you make a deal you should extend the light from your heart out to whatever the task may be and the receiver does the same. It's to create unification for the future."

    "Tradition?" They thought.

    "What kind of deals?" Clemont asked.

    "All kinds of deals. When it comes to Team Rocket they are required to do their own work as human agents and I help them by getting the supplies while they help me by making sure that I am taken care of. That's the deal between a Rocketeer and an assigned agent, its what you would call a mutual relationship. Agents are assigned to watch over a Rocketeer while the Rocketeer gathers supplies or does missions ranging from super exciting to mundane. The job is a low-rank position for the humans but it's actually highly sought out for within our community."

    "Community?" They all thought.

    "Wait, so when it came to all those traps and weapons you set against us they were provided by you?" Ash asked.

    "Meowth, that's right!"

    "And in return, you gain their protection?" Ash continued.

    "Meowth, that's right!" Meowth chimed.

    "That's awful!" Ash exclaimed, "So you're forced to do crimes just to earn their protection? Why on earth would you want to go back to them?"

    "They're not forcing me to do anything. I'm a free Pokémon and it's where I belong."

    "It doesn't have to be."

    "Wait a minute, I didn't explain it to you expecting that you would understand but that has been our system for years and it works fine for us. There's a lot you twerps don't know about the organizations like Team Rocket or Team Flare."

    "But what they're doing is wrong. Forcing Pokémon to steal just so that way they can gain food or protection is wrong?"

    "How's it any different than what you do?"

    "What?" They asked puzzled by such an odd statement.

    "You feed and take care of your Pokémon. What do they do for you in return? They do everything you tell them to as mindless slaves."

    "Pika Pi, Pikachu, Chu, Chu!" "My Pokémon are not mindless slaves!"

    "Oh yes, they are! Face it twerp, when you capture a Pokémon, you automatically enforce a deal to have that Pokémon do whatever you say in return for your protection! So quit trying to convince me like you are better than Team Rocket. I will never leave Team Rocket ever, you hear me!" Meowth took a deep breath as it finished yelling its little rant while still shaking from the rage within. As it took another deep breath to calm itself down it began to walk on ahead.

    "Meowth..." Serena began softly.

    "SHUT UP!" Meowth shouted as he stomped his foot hard.

    "I had enough of you twerps and your constant questioning! Now if you don't mind I would like to get to Cularo Town!" Meowth continues on walking ahead, leaving a group filled with mixed feelings. In silence, they followed behind the scratch cat Pokémon on the fractured path that would lead them to their destination.

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    Author notes:

    The relationship with Pancham may come off OC for Pancham since I have read that Pancham does have a short fuse and Meowth's comments should have ended everything but again I also read that Pancham used to steal before he joined the group so that's what I am mainly basing it off of. As for Pancham's relationships with the other Pokémon, again I haven't watched the show and I only saw like 2-5 episodes so I am kind of going off by how its relationship started rocky with the other Pokémon since it stole from them. As for the rabbit and Chespin, I know the bunny used to steal for its friends but that was before it met the main cast group and it was selfless act compared to Pancham and Meowth, and that its personality has a sense of maturity, while Chespin has a gluttonous character arc. While they may have been warmer to Meowth earlier, I am making it this way because of what I said earlier. I believe that most Pokémon consider Meowth's ability to talk unnatural and maybe humans do too. Think about it, it can talk, its inadvertently challenging the system that's in place. So what is it really, it acts like a human but is a Pokémon. This is something I will cover at one point as well but in due time.

    As for Team rocket and my concept of Rocketeers...this is one of the main reasons I finally decided to write this. I think there's a lot to play with when it comes to the evil organizations. While this does bring this fiction into fanfic territory I wanted to play with the idea of what Meowth's role really is. When it comes to its past I am going by the first season, not the b.s. that they force fed us later. No, it was very clear that Meowth was top cat before the boss's Persian came along and that he fell from the boss's good graces in the first season and that was an awesome idea to show how far a character would actually go to accomplish this...instead they decided to scrap it and turn it into an undignified villain. Again a lot of this will be dived into later but for now, I am giving you slivers as to what is to come.
    Chapter 8
    Author notes:

    Lavselle Valley-Ok I have mentioned this location a couple of times already, I didn't make a note of it yet because it wasn't the main setting until now. Lavselle is a combination of Lavedan and Moselle. Lavedan is a valley that is located at the heart of the Pyrenees Mountains. Moselle comes from the Moselle River. (Moselle is also the name of a department in France) The river is a left tributary of the Rhine and it flows through France, Luxembourg, and Germany.

    Diggory- this name is inspired by Diagoras of Rhodes. Diagoras was an athlete in Ancient Greece and his family was considered one of the best sporting families in the ancient world.

    Milo- this name is inspired by Melankomas (translation of the name is "the one with black hair") who was also an athlete in Ancient Greece. What made him unique was that he never got hit and he never hit back...an athlete that represented strength and philosophical ideas.

    Nomia Inn-comes from the name Nomia, which is the name of a mountain nymph from Greek Mythology

    Pokéathlon-this is based on the side games in the heart gold and soul silver.


    Chapter 8: Pokéathlon​

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    It was quiet amongst the gang. No one has said anything to each other since the tense argument they had the day before. They were closing in as they started to enter the heart of Lavselle Valley. The heart of the valley was a large, beautiful meadow with Cularo Town seen in the distance as they walk down the hill. To their side, they saw a large river that had a lively flow to it. They figured it was one of the many rivers that lead back into the mountains, making them once again thankful that Anthony gave them a better way to get to Snowbelle City. This wide river that came from the mountains went all the way to Cularo Town and they were excited to see civilization. They also started to notice that there were flags and tents of different colors spread out. They saw a large racetrack and many trainers and their Pokémon who all seemed to be training for something.

    "What are they doing over there?" Bonnie asked.

    "Oh, please don't go check it out...we're almost there." Meowth thought.

    "Let's go check it out!" Ash suggested.

    "Maybe if I walk really slow, by the time I catch up they will be ready to leave."

    "A competition for Pokémon! Where do I sign up?" "Pika, Pikachu!" Ash exclaimed.

    "Ugh...just my luck...Wait what am I thinking? Cularo Town is just up ahead, I don't need to stay with them." With that thought in mind, Meowth continued onwards.

    "You kids want to participate?" An older boy who seemed to be around the age of Jessie and James came up to the kids. He had a peaceful demeanor about him with long black hair and vibrant violet eyes with an inviting smile that adorned his dark-olive skin.

    "Yes, I would like to sign up!" "Pi, Pikachu!"

    "That's great! My name is Milo; I'm helping out the coordinators who are running this event. If you wish to join, go to that yellow tent over there to sign up. Here's a list of all the sporting events, that we will be having." He handed Ash a list.

    "You will need to pick four Pokémon for your team, but remember you can't change it once you submitted your decided team members."

    "What do the winners win?" Clemont asked.

    "The winners win a free stay at a really great Inn that has hot springs and great food in Cularo Town."

    "That's perfect! We will win for sure, right Pikachu!" "Pi, Pikachu!" Ash looked over the list of events that was given to him.

    "Hmmm...Disc Catching?"

    ***Swoosh, Swoosh***

    Meowth's ears twitched as he heard the sound of a flying disc come hurling at him from behind. Meowth quickly turned around and caught it with ease.

    "WHOA! Nice catch Meowth!" Ash shouted favorably, being the first to break their silence between each other.

    "ZAAANNNN!" A Zangoose came out of nowhere swinging a mega punch towards Meowth, missing its target as Meowth jumped out of the way.

    "Zangoose, Zaaaanngoose!" Zangoose tries again and misses.

    "Chill out! Here!" Meowth retorted as he tried to hand the disc back.

    "Zangoose, Zangoose, Zaaangooossse!" Zangoose screamed, Meowth glared at Zangoose for what it said and threw the disc hitting Zangoose in the face.

    "Zaaaangooose!"

    "Pancham!" Pancham ran in-between the large raging Pokémon and the scratch cat Pokémon as everyone ran to catch up with them.

    "HEY, YOU RUNTS! Give Us Back Our Disc!" An older boy shouted. The boy was also around Jessie and James' age who was fair-skinned with short dark amber blonde hair, grey eyes and was in better shape compared to everyone else.

    "Hey! It was your Zangoose who tried to attack our Pokémon." Bonnie responded.

    "Our Pokémon? It didn't attack your Pokémon, it attacked me you blind Zubat!" Meowth thought annoyingly. The boy looked over at his Zangoose who was still growling at Meowth.

    "Don't waste your energy on a small fry like that! Save it for a real opponent!" He ordered.

    "What!?" Ash demanded.

    ***Whistle Blows***

    Milo blew his whistle as he got in between the quarreling groups. "Diggory! You know the rules, save that energy for the games." He said.

    "These losers interfered with my training!" Diggory yelled accusingly.

    "We did not!" Ash responded infuriatingly.

    "Alright, save it for the games. Diggory, take your Zangoose and continue your training by the track, no one will be there to bother you." Milo explained in an orderly fashion.

    "The games? Do you mean this kid is going to join? Bawhahaaha!" Diggory laughed arrogantly at Ash. "There's no way your insignificant Pokémon could ever defeat my Zangoose!" He declared as he looked at Meowth. "Zan! Zan!"

    "Come on Zangoose let's go find us a worthy opponent."

    "Glad that's over with." Meowth thought as he tried to get away only to be stopped by Pancham.

    "Pan, Pancham." Pancham smiles pointing towards the gang.

    "Nope, I'm going this way!" Meowth confirmed as he continued towards Cularo Town.

    The sound of a teapot was going off somewhere...Ash snarled as if volcanoes erupted behind him. "WHERE DO I SIGN UP TO BEAT THAT JERK?"

    "It's right over there," Milo answered calmly as he pointed to the yellow tent he mentioned earlier.

    "You have two hours to practice before the first event. Now if you will excuse me."

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    "Diggory, wait up!" Milo caught up to Diggory, "Why must you make everything so difficult?" He asked as he looked back at Meowth.

    "Geez Milo, don't let winning a few competitions go to your head," Diggory responded as he looked back at Meowth as well.

    "Is that the one you told me about?" He asked in a low voice as Milo nodded with an unreadable smile.

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    Still fuming, Ash vigorously grabs the sign-in sheet from the receptionist. Taking into account all the events Ash wrote down who he was going to have on his team. "Alright, there's you Pikachu," "Pika!" "Greninja, Hawlucha, and..."

    "Pika Pi, Pi Pikachu!" Pikachu screeched as it heard the name of the last Pokémon. It tried to stop Ash from writing down the name by trying to snatch the pen out of his hand.

    "Knock it off Pikachu! This is happening!"

    "Wait you're not serious?" Serena watched nervously as Ash finished filling out the paperwork.

    "I think you should reconsider," Clemont said cautiously.

    "Pika Pi, Pika Pi, Pikachuuu!" Pikachu whined as Ash happily handed over the filled out form to the girl who was collecting them.

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    "Pancham, Pancham, Pan, Pan, Cham." Pancham followed behind an uncaring Meowth who ignored its pleas to stay with the group.

    "Where do you think you're going?" Ash ran up to Meowth.

    "Cularo Town. Where else?" He answered bitterly.

    "We'll do that later. Right now I need you to tell me what other moves you know besides flash and fury swipes."

    "Didn't I already tell you that I don't know any moves? I can't learn any because I can talk." Meowth said unemotionally.

    "Stop lying to me! I'm not buying that for a second, especially after the way you handled those attackers on the canyon wall. You were amazing!" Ash said approvingly.

    "That was nothing special, I just did what all Meowth are able to do by making high jumps and having good balance." He said defensively.

    "I can train you. With your..."

    "I don't need any training from you!" Meowth interrupted. "I told you I can't learn any moves so drop it, twerp." It insisted. Ash glares at Meowth for a moment, trying hard not to lose his temper again. Ash called out Greninja and Hawlucha to move on.

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    "Alright, we are going to participate in a couple of games together," Ash told his Pokémon as they gathered around him.

    "Greninja?" Greninja asked Pikachu as he pointed to Meowth who was staring aimlessly.

    "Pikachu." Pikachu nods as it slouches, embarrassed by Ash's decision-making. They both return their attention towards Ash as they continue their best to ignore the cat's very existence. Hawlucha was listening vigilantly while side glancing the small Pokémon every so often, thinking about the battle they shared at the canyon.

    Meowth was off in another world as he was staring off into the distance at the tall snow-covered mountains that were now even further away.

    "Meowth..."

    "Maybe I should head back."

    "Meowth..."

    Staring at the mountains feeling their strange power drawing him in...a twinkle appeared. "Ah..." He murmured.

    "Was that?" Meowth's body tensed up as a powerful sensation engulfed his entire being.

    "MEOWTH!"

    "Huh..."

    **SMACK**

    Hawlucha slapped his wing into Meowth's face.

    "Wha!" Meowth yelled as he lost his balance.

    "Hawlucha, Haw!" Hawlucha pointed to Ash.

    "Pay attention! I need you to focus so we can beat that jerk."

    "What jerk?" Meowth asked nonchalantly as he sat up straight.

    "Diggory, the guy with the Zangoose."

    "Ohhh...him. Yeah, he was a jerk. But why should I care if you beat him or not?" It asked apathetically.

    "Because you're competing with us...Geez weren't you listening at all?"

    "Compete? Wait you don't mean?" Meowth looks around at all the serious faces that the Pokémon displayed. Dumbfounded by the news before allowing all of his anger from before to return to the surface.

    "What on earth possessed you to put me on your team?"

    "Because there are a couple of events that require speed and high jumping. There is also that event catching the discus and you did that perfectly. Furthermore, I meant what I said about you being amazing back at the canyon. All you need to do is prove it to them." Ash spoke clearly as he felt the excitement for a great competition grow.

    "I don't need to prove anything! What I need is to go to Cul..." Meowth tried to counter but got distracted by the mountains.

    "We will go there right after. Besides I can't change the team so I need you to participate." Ash spoke steadily.

    "Forfeit!"

    "I'm not going to forfeit!" Ash's Pokémon chimed in as well. "Don't you want to prove them wrong? Don't you want to know what it's like to achieve something...what it's like to win?"

    Meowth gives him what appears to be a cold hard scowl at first glance, "I know what I am. I don't need to prove my own self-worth!"

    "It's that look again...like the one at the canyon," Ash recalled when Meowth was the first one to hop on board on one of the carts. He gazed into the cat's crystal blue eyes that soon adverted their gaze. It wasn't a look of anger it was something else. What was it? In a fleeting moment, it almost felt like it was someone else.

    "How can you be so determined to give up without even trying?"

    Ash continued to observe as he felt his stomach growling. Seeing that his Pokémon were nowhere near working together as a team, he thought that it would be a good idea to take a break and eat something.

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    Ash went over to one of the food vendors and bought some cantaloupe for his team. As they all sat together on the grass while eating their juicy snack, Ash continued to explain the events and what everyone's role was going to be.

    Meowth, as angry as he was about the circumstances didn't move from his spot. He had his back turned to them for he had a pretty good view of those tall mountains in the distance. Meowth was so fixated on them, that he forgot about the current situation.

    "Meowth," He heard his name being called and looked over his shoulder. "That piece of melon is for you." The twerp spoke gently as he pointed to the small plate beside Meowth. He eyed the orange-colored melon slices then turned his attention back onto the mountains.

    "I'm not hungry," Meowth mumbled resentfully as it refused to face him. Ash picks up Meowth's plate and gets up to sit in front of Meowth. As Meowth glared at him, Ash started to piece together some of the moments they have shared so far.

    "Meowth when was the last time you ate something?" He asked softly. Meowth shoots daggers at him before getting up and walking around Ash to sit down and return to ignoring him. Ash squeezed the sides of the plate as the situation was starting to become clear. Trying to stay calm Ash gets up and copies what Meowth did.

    "I think you would feel better if you had a few bites. I need you to be in tip-top shape like everyone else today for the competition." Meowth slaps the plate out of Ash's hands and scratches his face. "OOOOWWWW!"

    "I'm Not Your Pokémon! I'm not competing for you for anything! You Got That? I am a proud member of Team Rocket not one of Your Mindless Puppets!"

    "PIKA PI, PIKACHU, PI, PI, PIKA PI, PIKACHU!" "GRENINJA, NINJA, GRENINJA!" "HAW, HAWLUCHA, HAW!"

    "RIGHT BACK AT YOU! LIKE I CARE WHAT YOU SAY! IT'S NOT LIKE I WANTED TO BE ON YOUR STUPID TEAM IN THE FIRST PLACE!" Meowth shouted back at the Pokémon.

    "STOP! STOP!" Ash yelled as he got in between the bickering Pokémon while still in pain from Meowth's assault.

    "I need you guys to work together! MEOWTH!" He barked. "I had enough of your attitude! I'm the Pokémon trainer, you're the Pokémon and what I say goes!"

    "Why should I even bother working with a team that clearly hates me? I understand why you all hate me and I'm fine with that. You had no interest in me before either. So just because of a few lousy jumps and lucky dodges, now you want me on your team? You are so typical for a human, Twerp!" Taking a breather from all the yelling Meowth turns his back onto the group to look at the mountains.

    "I will participate since you can't change it," Meowth mumbled coldly.

    "I...uh..." A stunned Ash tried to find the words as Pikachu yelled in his place.

    "PIKACHU, PI, PI, PIKACHU, PI, PI!"

    "Ash!" Serena hollered. "The first event is about to start!"

    Staring at the back of the scratch cat and observing his team who were nowhere near what he thought that they could be. "We should get going." He muttered.

    "PREPARE YOURSELF TO LOSE!" Meowth roared as it spun around adorning a wicked smirk as it faced a group of enraged Pokémon.

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    The competition was simple enough, the team that wins an event gets the most points. The two teams with the most points get to challenge each other in the final round. The Pokémon did all the events while their trainers stood on the sidelines giving them directions when needed. The first event was capturing the flag, and Ash's team was up against Diggory's team, which consisted of Zangoose, Vibrava, Houndoom, and Skarmory. The goal was simple, steal the other team's flag before they steal yours. When on the other team's side of the field, that team was allowed to defend their territory by using tackle or any other physical moves in order to freeze that Pokémon for twenty seconds. However any special attacks were not allowed, these games are to show a Pokémon's endurance not skill.

    The whistle blew, signaling the start of the game. All the Pokémon scattered in search of the other team's flag while Meowth walked over to sit by where they hid their flag.

    "What's Meowth doing?" Clemont asked perplexed by the behavior. Ash chuckled nervously, embarrassed by the performance as he remembered the Pokémon's warning before the game started.

    "Zangoose!" Zangoose came running towards Meowth. Meowth raises a paw to stop the Zangoose in its tracks. The big Zangoose arched an eyebrow as Meowth got up leisurely. He walked over to grab the flag then walked back to Zangoose to hand it over.

    "Zango?"

    Meowth smiles, "Go on take it! I'm rooting for you!"

    Unsure on what to make of the odd gesture, Zangoose accepts the flag and runs off to win the game for its team.

    Everyone in the crowd was shocked.

    "It just...handed it over?" Ash was surprised as the burning sensation of resentment gradually grew inside him.

    "Hawlucha! Haw, Haw!" Hawlucha reprimanded Meowth for costing them the game on purpose.

    "Pika, Pikachu!"

    "Greninja!" Meowth walked on ahead to the next event, smirking to himself as he purposefully snubbed them.

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    After a few more troubling games. Up next was a relay race, where the Pokémon were to run through rocky terrains on the track, jump hurdles and then pass the baton over to the next Pokémon without dropping it. There were six teams in the race with Ash and Diggory included.

    Hawlucha and Skarmory went head to head as they flew fast through the first lap, then handing the baton over to their teammates Pikachu and Houndoom respectively. Pikachu and Houndoom were neck and neck running through the course as Houndoom handed the baton to Vibrava to continue for their team. Pikachu tried to hand it over to Meowth, but Meowth refused to even take it from him, costing them the lead among the other teams.

    "Pika," Sparks of electricity emanated from Pikachu's cheeks as it threatened Meowth.

    "PIKACHU! Don't you dare!" Ash ordered.

    "Hah...looks like your Master has you on a tight leash." Meowth taunted in a dark tone.

    "Pika Pi, Pikachu Pi, Pikachu!" Pikachu shoved the baton into Meowth's paws furiously.

    "Pika, Pikachu!" Pikachu pointed for Meowth to run. Meowth gives Pikachu a devilish smirk. He turns around with the baton pretending he is about to run for it. As he takes one step forward he swings his arm far back to throw the baton as far away as possible.

    "PIKA!" "NOOOO!" Ash screamed. Luckily for Ash, the baton was headed towards Greninja who was able to catch it with its tongue. It charges ahead to make up for the lost time.

    "WHAT!?" Meowth shouted.

    "PIKACHU!" "YES! GO GRENINJA!" Ash exclaimed.

    Once Greninja caught up to Zangoose, it was just in the nick of time for Greninja to win the race for its team. Upset by the event, Zangoose scowled as it gave Meowth a dirty look.

    "HOORAY!" Everyone cheered.

    "What the...that wasn't supposed to happen!" Meowth thought in horror.

    "But that's cheating!" Meowth shouted to a crowd that wasn't paying attention.

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    Some games went better than others, much to Meowth's dismay. Meowth really showed its dedication in wanting to make its team lose whenever it got the chance.

    The disc catching event was the final game for all the teams to participate in before the final round. The Pokémon were to stand on a floating dock on the river while the discs came flying towards them to catch. The Pokémon were allowed to tackle or use any other form of physical contact against each other in order to knock a disc out of their opponent's grasp. The team that caught the most would win and the two teams that have the most points overall will face off in the final round.

    "Okay, team we can win this challenge no problem!" Ash tried to sound reassuring as the Pokémon glared at the uncooperative Pokémon. Ash looks to Meowth solemnly as it had its back turned to him.

    "I...uh...know you can do it." He said as he tried to force a smile. Ash then realized that Meowth wasn't even paying attention as it was staring aimlessly towards the way they came from.

    "What are you staring at?" He thought while looking in the same direction.

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    On the floating dock that was vaguely unsteady due to the fast pace moving water, Zangoose stood tall over Meowth.

    "Zangoose, Zan, Zangoose, Goose!"

    "Tch...this guy is even worse than the twerp's Pokémon. What goes on in those poke balls that make Pokémon so stupid?"

    The discs came flying out fast; Zangoose was shoving Pokémon left and right into the water as it was running around catching discs like a beast. Greninja and Hawlucha were able to catch a few. Pikachu was having trouble just trying to catch one as it was also trying to avoid Zangoose and other Pokémon assaults.

    "Zangoose, Zangoose!" Zangoose continued to brag towards Meowth who just stared back unfazed as his arms were crossed in front of his chest, staying persistent with his protest. Meowth's ears suddenly twitched as he turned around and caught a slightly bigger gold disc that came from behind.

    "Ooo...Shiny!"

    "Ladies and Gentleman, Ash's Meowth just caught the gold discus which means it earned triple points for its team!" An announcer spoke.

    "WHAT!?" Meowth shouted.

    "WAY TO GO MEOWTH!" Ash cheered.

    "Haw, Hawlucha!" Hawlucha stood next to Meowth as it gave him praise for finally making an effort.

    "What...no...I...It should be minus points! Minus Points!" Meowth shouted towards the announcer but to no avail.

    "KEEP UP THE GOOD WORK!" Ash hailed joyfully ignoring Meowth's antics.

    "ZANGOOSE! WHAT ARE YOU DOING? DON'T LET THAT LITTLE PEST UPSTAGE YOU!" Diggory hollered.

    "What?" Ash yelled towards Diggory.

    "Zangoose, Zan, Zan, Goose, Zangoose!"

    "No wait, you don't understand, I've been trying to lose." Meowth tried to explain to a fuming Zangoose.

    Another disc came flying towards Meowth, as he caught it unintentionally, Zangoose head-butted Meowth.

    "THAT'S THE WAY ZANGOOSE!" Diggory shouted, causing Ash to scowl crossly at him. Meowth got up still holding onto the disc he just caught.

    "Zangoose, ZAN, ZANGOOSE!" Zangoose screamed as the majority of Pokémon glowered ominously at him, causing Meowth to look down at the disc squeezing it tightly.

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    The disc challenge was over and thanks to Meowth's involuntary assistance got them the points they needed to make it to the final round against Diggory. The final challenge was called the ring drop. Where one Pokémon from each team got into the ring to battle it out by trying to push the other Pokémon out of the ring first without using any special attacks. Best three out of four wins the competition.

    "Okay, guys this is it!" Ash said encouragingly, as the Pokémon were still looking at Meowth disapprovingly as it continued to have its back turned towards them.

    "Are you scared?" Ash asked gently causing Meowth to snap out of its gaze to look up at him, surprised by that question. Ash then bent down, kneeling beside it to meet it at its level.

    "About those guys, I mean." Meowth remained quiet as Ash started to reach over to rest a reassuring hand on its head but Meowth quickly batted his hand away. It was hard but Ash didn't feel a scratch as he rubbed his hand while eyeing the scratch cat who seemed slightly annoyed.

    "Wait!" Ash spoke hastily as Meowth was turning its attention away. It stopped and looked back at him as it held an impassive expression. "I...uh...would protect you...we would protect you."

    He pointed to his Pokémon and friends. "You do know that right?"

    "That's not it," Meowth mumbled honestly as he looked back at the mountains.

    "Then what is it?"

    "I don't know." Meowth stayed silent for a moment. As he looked down he muttered, "Let's just get this over with."

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    The first round was Skarmory vs. Hawlucha. They turned it into a semi sky battle but it was Hawlucha who came out on top by kicking Skarmory out of the ring.

    Next was Houndoom vs. Greninja which made it seem like a shoo-in for Greninja. However, this Houndoom's speed was faster than normal and was able to keep up with Greninja. Greninja shot its tongue out at Houndoom to push it out of the ring, but Houndoom dodges it perfectly by still charging towards Greninja, tackling it out of the ring.

    Third round it was Pikachu vs. Vibrava.

    "Alright, Pikachu! It's all, you buddy!" Ash cheered by the ring's sidelines.

    "Pikachu!" It said charged up and ready to go. Pikachu used its agility to its advantage whenever Vibrava tried to tackle him. When Pikachu saw a chance to make a move, Pikachu charged towards Vibrava to tackle it out of the ring. To Pikachu's dismay, Vibrava moved out of the way at the right time to let Pikachu fall out of the ring itself.

    "Uh...Pikachu, you okay buddy?" Ash ran over to its side.

    "Pika Pi," Pikachu said sorrowfully.

    "Its okay buddy, you did your best." Ash hugs Pikachu for its hard work.

    Last but not least it was Meowth vs. Zangoose. Ash watched as he started to get nervous as he thought about what the Pokémon might do.

    "We might actually lose."

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    "I really want to forfeit this round, however..." Meowth thinks back to what Zangoose said to him at the previous event.

    "I could easily outsmart this idiot. It would be a crime not to beat him." Meowth stayed put at his side of the ring with his arms folded with an unfazed look taunting the Zangoose.

    "ZAAANGOOOOSE!" Zangoose came bull-rushing towards him. It looked as if Meowth was going to take the hit but tumbled out of the way in the nick of time, causing Zangoose to bull rush itself out of the ring.

    "Unfortunately, for you, it's not a crime I'm willing to commit today."

    "Meowth, you did it!" Ash exclaimed happily.

    "Pika..." Pikachu was shocked as was Greninja while Hawlucha smirked at the victory.

    "Ladies and Gentleman," an announcer spoke. "...the two challengers have tied. Both trainers can choose one of their Pokémon for one final round in the ring to decide who wins."

    "Pika Pi,"

    "Alright, you want to try again?" Ash grinned as Pikachu nodded happily.

    "Zangoose, ZAN!" Zangoose shouted towards Meowth who was now heading to the town to get away from all this nonsense. He stopped in his tracks and looked back at Zangoose.

    "You just got lucky! I doubt a weakling like you could do it again!" Diggory taunted.

    "Grrr...Meowth! Show them their wrong! Show them that you can beat them." Ash said charged up and ready to fight. But Meowth responds by returning to his original intention of going to the town.

    "Wait! Come back!" Ash desperately exclaimed. "Why won't you give yourself a chance?"

    "Hawlucha, Haw, Hawlucha!" Hawlucha, jumped in front of Meowth, blocking its path completely, as Ash ran up behind it.

    "Hawlucha, Haw, Hawlucha, Lucha, Haw."

    "What's it saying?" Ash asked.

    "Hawlucha, Haw, Hawlucha."

    "I Don't Care!" Meowth shouted venomously.

    "Greninja!"

    "Pika!" They shouted as Hawlucha just stared the scratch cat down.

    "Zangoose, ZAN, ZANGOOSE! ZANGOOSE, GOOSE!" Zangoose screamed causing Meowth to look down creating small fists with its paws by its sides as the other Pokémon and Ash watched the changed behavior.

    "What...did it say?" Ash asked cautiously.

    "Haw, Haw, Hawlucha." Meowth looked up at Hawlucha and than turned his head back to the insulting Zangoose who unknowingly had those mysterious mountains behind it. Staring back at the mountains letting their power captivate him again...a twinkle appeared.

    "Ah..." He gasped.

    "I saw it..." Meowth's body tensed up as a powerful sensation engulfed his entire being, he slowly turned his whole body towards Zangoose.

    Ash watched as Meowth's demeanor changed again. "It's that look again..."

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    It was Meowth vs. Zangoose once again to declare the winner. Zangoose charged at Meowth once again, this time Meowth changed things up by jumping over its head to the other side of the ring.

    "Zaaaan..." Zangoose growled. Zangoose tried again only to miss again and this continued a couple more times.

    "Zangoose! Attack once it jumps." Diggory ordered. Zangoose came charging and just when it seemed Meowth was going to jump, it did a small tumble to the side that was close to the edge of the ring.

    "Zaaan..." It growled again.

    "Way to go Meowth!" Ash cheered. Zangoose came charging even faster and angrier than before.

    "Now's my chance." Meowth thought. Zangoose threw another punch but Meowth avoided it and tackled it hard enough for Zangoose to lose its balance causing it to fall out of the ring.

    "Ash's Meowth won! Ash's team won the games!" The announcer cried.

    "Ash's Meowth!?" Meowth said frustratingly.

    "You Did It!" Ash exclaimed as he ran up to it, followed by everyone else. Ash bends down and attempts to pet Meowth only to be batted away gently by its paw as it gave him a displeased glare. Ash held a blank stare for a moment before quietly chuckling to himself as he rubbed his hand.

    "Hawlucha, Haw!" Hawlucha said positively as the others nodded in approval.

    "Way to go you guys!" Serena congratulated. "Pancham Pan!"

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    "As the winner, you will receive a free night at the Nomia Inn, I hope you enjoy your stay," Milo said happily as he handed over the certificate to Ash.

    "We Won!" "Pi, Pi-kachu!"

    "Look Meowth! We did it together! Meowth..."

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    Meowth was focusing on the mountains again, feeling a strong bond connecting him to them.

    "I know I saw it."

    "You have some very impressive skills, little Meowth." Milo continued as he gazed in the same direction.

    "These mountains contain many paths that can lead one to Cularo Town, some are obvious while others are not. You see, these mountains have secrets."

    "Huh..." Meowth snapped his attention to the black-haired man as the man smiled warmly.

    "Nomia Inn is a great inn, I'm sure you will find it delightful in more ways than one." With that said, Meowth watched Milo walk away towards Diggory before returning his gaze onto the mountains.

    "Secrets..."

    "Meowth, ready to go?" Ash asked as everyone gathered around.

    "Huh..." Meowth faced everyone.

    "Next stop Cularo Town!" Bonnie chimed. Meowth took one quick glance at the mountains then looked to see that Milo was now chatting with Diggory.

    "Nomia Inn..." Meowth mumbled faintly.

    "Yeah, that's where we're staying." Ash clarified.

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    "You know its proper sportsmanship to congratulate the winner." Milo joked.

    "Whatever, we'll win next time. Right, Zangoose?" "Zangoose."

    "If this were a real battle we would have defeated that Meowth for sure." Diggory declared.

    "I wouldn't be too sure about that," Milo warned with a mischievous grin as he stared at the mountains covered in snow in the far off distance.

    "Secrets contain great powers of change once revealed." He started as he turned his gaze towards Meowth who was walking behind the group with a Pancham by its side, stopped to look at the mountains again.

    "Good or bad, the change they bring all depends on you."

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    "Meowth," Ash stopped to look back at the Pokémon. "I know you didn't want to do it at all, but I just wanted to say thank you for today."

    "Huh...What?" Meowth held a confused looked as it tilted its head up at Ash.

    "Seriously! I was thanking you for today."

    "Oh..." It stares at him vacantly.

    "You're supposed to say 'your welcome'!" Ash thought annoyingly, he then sighs out his frustration.

    "Meowth, there's one question that I need to ask you."

    "Huh...Yeah," Meowth said soberly.

    "What is it about Team Rocket that makes you so loyal to them?" Meowth looks at everyone for a moment and grins slightly. Meowth runs a little ahead of the group to stop and spin around playfully, then looks straight at them with a finger touching its small smile.

    "Now that is classified information." It said tenderly as it winked playfully. The kids watched on as the Pokémon walked towards Cularo Town with the image of its smile embedded into their memories...but those eyes, they seemed...sad.

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    Author notes:

    In Japan, the idea of the koban being on the forehead is that everyone can see its greatness but itself. Meowth is probably coming way OC here due to it not taking challenges head-on since in a lot of ways Meowth is sort of a hot head like Ash but I do remember it only went for it when the right buttons were pushed whereas Ash takes on any challenge no matter the reason. Its short-lived "You hate me" speech, I wasn't going to bring this angle into the fold till much later but I decided to do it now because I think the timing was better. I made Meowth exhausted so its irrational behavior comes off in short fuses. I see Meowth's character as a miniature Mewtwo, it has unlimited possibilities when it comes to challenging the system in the Pokémon world. The thing that humans try to capture can talk what does one do with that? What kind of philosophies can it bring to the table that might upset their world order?

    Zangoose and all of the Pokémon, as I said before I believe its ability to talk has cost it a lot of hardships when it comes to fitting in. I didn't do any cheesy translations this time because this chapter needed to be done through the human's perspective. The humans have no idea what they're saying, they can only tell by the reactions, so as a writer I do hope the tensions and hurt feelings came off well.
    Chapter 9
    Cularo Town-this was the original name of Grenoble a city that is located at the foot of the French Alps. Cularo was a little Gallic village. While in real life this location is a city I have condensed its size to a smaller town…or I guess you could say I returned it to its roots.

    Kairos Clock Tower-is based off of the Three Order Statue that is in Grenoble City. In Grenoble City the statue represents the classes of people asking the same question in three different ways. Kairos is the Greek word for the right opportune moment. (In ancient times specifically.) If you're interested I suggest looking up Cearus, who is the personification of the word

    Nomia Inn-comes from the name Nomia, which is the name of a mountain nymph from Greek Mythology

    Saul- inspiration is Diogenes of Sinope who was one of the founders of Cynicism. He believed in a life of virtue was better by action. This character while inspired by this historical figure will not be exactly like him. Diogenes was like that crazy old man that you don't want to make eye contact with. What drew me to him is that there were stories about him searching for the "honest man." So I decided to create the honest man and see where it could take me.

    Symbolically eyes hold a lot of meanings. In Egyptian and even Western traditions the left eye is considered a lunar trait and the northern direction. The right is the solar symbol and the south direction.


    Chapter 9: Strange Encounters​

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    "Boy am I tired." Meowth thought as he lagged behind the twerps.

    "I should have just let that overgrown weasel win by jumping out of the ring myself." Meowth signed frustratingly.

    Nomia Inn was on the other side of town, giving the kids a chance to look around town. They looked at the times for when the earliest monorail would leave for Snowbelle City the next day. They stopped at a few stores on the way. While Ash was looking at small plushies in a window, he saw the reflection of two Pokémon behind him. It seemed like Pancham was making small talk with Meowth as it simply nodded. Ash turned to get a better look at them as he noticed Pikachu, who was on his shoulder, was watching the duo vigilantly.

    "You can join them if you want." Pikachu snapped out of its gaze as it turned its attention to Ash.

    "Pi, Pikachu!" Pikachu huffed.

    "What about you Dedenne?" Bonnie asked Dedenne who was also staring intently.

    "De, De!" Dedenne puffed.

    Ash turned to the plushies in the window as the reflection of a certain scratch cat appeared. It was just an average looking Meowth, not doing anything in particular. He took a deep breath as he closed his eyes then exhaled. He opened his eyes to see its reflection remain in the window as he quickly averted his gaze.

    "Pikachu, I know it's hard but I think you should give Meowth a chance," Ash suggested sincerely.

    "Pi!" Pikachu disregarded Ash's statement.

    "Old wounds take time to heal, it's not something you can force," Serena advised.

    "They do say that Pokémon that are really close to their trainers tend to reflect the same feelings," Clemont added.

    "Yeah but I don't mind Meowth as much as I did before..." He paused as he looked down at his feet. "I don't hate it." He mumbled.

    "That may be but be honest with yourself. You still feel a little resentment for all the things that happened in the past, right?"

    "I guess…an apology would be nice."

    "But what about Dedenne and the other Pokémon?" Bonnie asked as she looked down at her friend. "We don't have a long past with Meowth like Ash and Pikachu."

    "Hmm…could it be what Meowth said about being a 'brainless puppet'?" Clemont asked Dedenne.

    "De, Dedenne!" "Pikachu!" The Pokémon chorused in unison.

    "It goes both ways," Serena concluded.

    "Dedenne," Bonnie started as she held Dedenne in her hands, " Pancham was able to look past that insult, maybe you can too. Would you rather have Meowth return to Team Rocket as our enemy or have a new friend that could change for the better?"

    Dedenne looked back at the two Pokémon getting along as it thought about what Bonnie said. Dedenne beamed and leaped off to go join in on the conversation.

    "What about you Pikachu?" "Pi!" Ash sighed to Pikachu's refusal.

    "'Why should I even bother working with a team that clearly hates me?" Ash recalled. "What can I do to change that?" He watched Dedenne join the two Pokémon.

    "What would a true Pokémon Master do?" He thought as he looked up to the sky as if the answer was somewhere in the clouds. He looked back at the three Pokémon conversing, more like two since Meowth seemed to be quiet for the most part. It was looking to its side, it didn't look like Meowth was really focusing on what Pancham or Dedenne were saying. It started to slouch as Ash thought he saw a slight quiver in its legs but Meowth quickly straightened itself out.

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    "De, Dedenne."

    "Pancham, Pan." Meowth nods faintly to them. While the twerps went shopping the conversation prolonged as Meowth just continued to nod gently, trying his best to keep up with the small talk at hand. Hoping that this charade of how un-fatigued he actually is holds up.

    **Tic-tock, tic-tock**

    Meowth's ears perk up as he straightens his posture. "In that direction?"

    "Pancham?"

    "De?"

    They looked at the scratch cat confused by the sudden change. Meowth turned as it took a few steps away from the group.

    **Tic-tock, tic-tock**

    "There it is!" Meowth darted off into the direction the mysterious sound was coming from.

    "Pan!" "De!" The kids heard as they turned their attention away from the gift shop window.

    "MEOWTH!" They screamed.

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    "That sound…"

    Meowth stopped as he entered the town's square. In the middle of the square was a memorial and a few fountains surrounding it. The monument was a tall limestone pillar with big clocks embedded on all sides, while on top of the pillar were two human statues. Were they supposed to be women? Men? Maybe both? Meowth couldn't really tell nor did he really care about that fact. Both statues had their backs to each other as one hand was holding the other. The one on the opposite side was holding the other statue's hand while its right hand was over its heart and the head was looking down. The human statue that Meowth was facing, while having its hand intertwined with the other statue had what appeared to be a blindfold that was slipping off revealing the left eye while still covering the right. The left arm of the statue was pointing forward.

    "What's it pointing too?"

    "MEOWTH!" He hears a group of voices shout. Meowth turned to see the twerps running towards him.

    "What's with you? Why did you take off like that?" "Pika!" Ash asked crossly.

    "Whoa what a pretty town square!" "De, De!" Bonnie exclaimed.

    "Just look at that statue and the fountains nearby." She ran to get a closer look.

    "Bonnie!" Clemont followed along with everyone else.

    "Kairos Clock Tower." Serena read the plaque out loud. Meowth gazed up at the statue and started to move closer to the large clock embedded in the pillar.

    **Tic**

    Meowth watched the clock intensely as the minute hand moved gradually as he recalled the symbols of time in his reoccurring dreams.

    **Tock**

    "Pancham?" Meowth released the air he held within his lungs as he snapped out of his daze to see Pancham looking at him worryingly while the twerp was walking up behind Pancham. As Pikachu held an indifferent expression the twerp looked like he wanted to say something but Meowth returned his attention onto the clock.

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    "Hey, are you a Pokémon trainer?" A young boy called out to Ash.

    "Me? Uh...yeah." He answered.

    "That's great so am I! Would you like to have a one-on-one battle?"

    "Alright!"

    "Pika!" Pikachu jumped off of Ash's shoulder ready to be called to the field.

    "Meowth,"

    "Pi?" Pikachu paused.

    "I choose you!" He announced.

    "WHAAAAT!?" "PIIII!?" Everyone screamed in unison.

    "I didn't know the twerp had a Meowth?" Meowth said intriguingly. "How come I've never seen it before?"

    "Uh…he's talking about you." Bonnie corrected.

    "Pan, Pan." "De." They all nodded.

    "Come on Meowth! Let's go!" He cheered.

    It was like they could hear the sound of a teapot going off somewhere…

    "WHAAAAT?" Meowth snarled as if volcanoes erupted behind him. "NO WAY!"

    "Come on, we can beat him together!"

    "I…AM…NOT…YOUR Pokémon! Wasn't The Sports Thing Enough For You!?"

    "But I,"

    "Piiikaa Piii," Pikachu called for Ash's attention, as it was clearly irritated by the chain of events.

    "Huh…oh Pikachu you want to battle?"

    "Pikachu!"

    "Okay, buddy…Pikachu I choose! Meowth! Watch and learn!"

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    The battle was over in a matter of seconds with Pikachu coming out on top.

    "Ha, Ha!" Ash laughed joyfully running up to the group who watched.

    "Did you see that?" He excitedly asked while looking at Meowth.

    "Huh…See what?" Meowth inquired as it snapped its attention towards him.

    "Why I oughta…" Ash growled inwardly.

    "The battle…Pikachu won!" He said as he regained his ecstatic composer.

    "Oh." It said casually as it turned its gaze back to the clock. Ash arched an eyebrow as he placed his hands over his hips.

    "Tch…you know you could win battles too." Meowth looked back at Ash with a blank stare as he continued.

    "All you really need is a good trainer." He said proudly pointing to himself. Meowth continued to stare at him before giving one of its infamous, mischievous grins.

    "Your right."

    "I am?" He asked remarkably. "Uh…Yeah of course I am!"

    "Yeah…too bad there's none around here," Meowth smirked.

    "Grrr…Pikachu…"

    "Time to go to the inn!" Serena interrupted what could have been a disastrous scene as she pulled Ash and Pikachu away. Meowth was left behind by the statue and it pulled down its eyelid while sticking out its tongue.

    "Nyaaa!"

    "Why You…!"

    "Pancham!"

    "Huh? Hey, wait…" Pancham grabbed Meowth dragging him towards the inn as well.

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    Nomia Inn was a small inn nestled on the far east side of town. The area was an older part of town compared to the newly renovated town square and shops as they walked in. Nomia had a rustic charm to it with the cobblestone architecture and the peaceful nature due to the lack of major foot traffic this side of town offered. If they didn't have the certificate they probably would have missed this hidden gem. The wooden doors were wide open as they heard the wind chime ring to their presence. A hunched over, bald old man was cleaning the check-in countertop as the wind chime got his attention to the new visitors.

    "Welcome to Nomia Inn," he spoke kindly "Are you interested in staying here for the night."

    "Yes, we are," Ash answered as he handed him the certificate that he won.

    "Oh, I see so you are the winner of the games. Congratulations!"

    "Thank you, sir!"

    "Please call me Saul." He smiled as his grey eyes brightened.

    "My name's Ash Ketchum and I'm from Pallet Town. This here is my friend Pikachu."

    "Pikachu." Pikachu greeted, as it was happily perched on Ash's shoulder. His friends followed suit in introducing themselves as did their Pokémon while Meowth remained quiet as he was fixated on other things.

    "My, my you have such lovely looking Pokémon. Well, I'm sure they told you that our inn has hot springs for you and your Pokémon to enjoy, and in honor of you winning the games you will be treated to a feast."

    "A Feast!" "Pika!" Ash shouted hungrily.

    "That's right and if you like there is a little shop nearby that offers massages and other basic needs for your Pokémon and since you are the winner, the services there will be free as well."

    "That sounds perfect!" Clemont exclaimed as he looked down at Meowth. "What do you think Meowth? …Meowth?"

    Meowth seemed to be staring up intently at something as its ears twitched, not paying attention to the conversation at hand.

    "My what pretty blue eyes you have," Saul spoke up causing Meowth to snap its attention towards the old man. The man took a moment to observe that Meowth's ears were still twitching as if it were listening to something else.

    "Can you hear them?"

    "Huh?" Everyone questioned as Meowth stiffened.

    "It's nothing," he answered as he took notice of Meowth's initial reaction. "It's just that I've been told that a Meowth's koban was a gift that was bestowed upon it and that it should be cherished with great care by its trainer." He spoke softly as he bent down to Meowth's level to get a closer look at its eyes.

    "Your eyes," he stared deep into its blue irises, "…what lovely blue eyes you have. It's like I can see the ocean reflecting inside them."

    Meowth quickly broke eye contact with the man's soulful grey eyes by looking down, but not before Saul witnessing a small flicker of light radiate within its sapphire eyes.

    "Meowth you should thank Saul for the nice compliments he is giving you," Ash said trying to correct the behavior.

    "Ha, Ha, Boy, you act as if it can talk back," Saul said amusingly.

    "Oh, but it can. Go on, Meowth say something." He said encouragingly as he nudged Meowth forward. Saul eyed the scratch cat oddly with an unreadable expression.

    "It must be a shy one."

    "Tch…I wouldn't say that. Come on speak!" Ash demanded with slight irritation creeping up.

    Meowth eyed Ash begrudgingly before looking to Saul, "NYA, NYA!" He shouted and with that walked out the door leaving everyone behind.

    Saul chuckled genuinely, "I see. Ha, Ha, now then let me show you to your rooms."

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    "Hey wait up!" Ash ran after Meowth with Pikachu sitting comfortably on his shoulder. Once Ash caught up with it he asked, "What was that all about?"

    Meowth kept on walking while ignoring him. Aggravated by the defiance Ash ran in front of Meowth to stop it then bent down to its level.

    "WHAT!?" Meowth yelled.

    "What is wrong with you? Your behavior is completely out of line!" Ash reprimanded. "Why didn't you say something? I know you have it in you to at least say 'thank you'."

    "I did talk," Meowth said in a matter of fact tone.

    "Don't get smart! You know what I meant."

    "Well, maybe you should be more specific." Meowth continued monotonously.

    "Specific? How more specific should I be when I ask you to talk?" Ash asked unamused by the response.

    "We Pokémon already know how to talk. It's not like what we would say naturally are involuntary spasms. You asked me to talk, so I did…naturally." It said as Ash felt his frustration over the situation gain more heat.

    "And while we're on the subject, you're starting to get this nasty habit of thinking that you can just boss me around as if you own me. NEWSFLASH TWERP! I don't belong to you! I don't belong to anyone! I'm a proud member of Team Rocket, not one of your mindless pets you can boss around!" It furiously asserted.

    "PIKA!" "Oh Yeah!? Well, no matter how you look at it I am the Pokémon trainer so I suggest you watch yourself or else!" Ash shouted back.

    "Or else what?" Meowth muttered viciously. Ash stood up as he looked down at Meowth, pointing an accusing finger in its direction.

    "They call you a Rocketeer because you're a wild Pokémon. Team Rocket or no Team Rocket you are a wild Pokémon, so keep this defiance of yours up all you want because I can and I will catch you, just try me!"

    "How stupid can a twerp get? We have a deal remember, and your part of the deal is to not catch me with any type of Poké Ball." Meowth explained furiously.

    "I remember that deal just fine besides, it's not like you've been keeping your end of the deal with your constant bad attitude and refusal to obey simple orders." He retorted.

    "I didn't break the deal! The deal was not to cause any mischief on behalf of Team Rocket, such as stealing or anything else that I have done to you in the past while we were traveling together. Nowhere in the deal did I say I would do it with a smile or help you win your stupid battles twerp!"

    "That does it! Pi…"

    "Seriously!" Meowth interjected, "Is this how it's always going to be between us? I don't care that you and all of your Pokémon hate me because of our past, but you all act like I wanted to travel with you in the first place! I want to find Jessie and James! I don't care if what we do is wrong, I don't care that they steal or hurt others. I want to be in Team Rocket! Why is that so hard for you twerps to understand? When I'm with Team Rocket sure, I bickered with Jessie and James all the time but they never looked down on me like I owed them because I was a Pokémon. I was their equal, their teammate, there was never a need to want to capture me to show superiority." Meowth stopped to take a deep breath as he started to walk past a speechless twerp.

    "Your not the boss of me!" He said venomously, "I will never leave Team Rocket for a stupid twerp like you!"

    Ash turned to face the back of the scratch cat Pokémon as rage and other emotions flooded his entire being. Furious with the claims of knowingly and willingly staying with criminals who steal, cheat and destroy people and Pokémon's lives for their own selfish reasons. However, as his feelings of resentment kept rising to the surface there were also slivers of grief that broke through the bubbling hot sensations. The grief that there was no hope of reaching it, the grief that nothing will ever change.

    "Ash!" He turned to see Serena come running towards him and Pikachu. "Where's Meowth?"

    He turned back around to see that Meowth was gone. "Dinner will be ready in an hour."

    Ash looked down as the lid of his hat covered his eyes, "I'll go look for it." He mumbled.

    "Would you like some help?"

    "Thank you, but I need to do this on my own." He answered as he took off with Pikachu on his shoulder.

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    "I've had it!" Meowth thought heatedly, "I don't have to keep traveling with them! All I need is a map so I can find out how to get to Anbero City from here."

    Meowth stopped in his tracks realizing he walked back to the town square. Hearing the fountains splash vigorously as he stared at what was in the center: Kairos Clock Tower.

    "What is it pointing at?" He thought while staring at the one statue that was pointing upwards.

    **Tic-tock**

    The clock's voice rang through its ears reminding it of the dreams it had. The pillar wasn't too high for Meowth to jump onto, landing in between the two statues with the intention to get a better look at what the statue was obsessing over. As it landed a familiar white-furred Pokémon was up ahead.

    "Furfrou?" The Pokémon in question ran off.

    "Hey, wait!" Meowth jumped off quickly trying to catch up only to be led into the town's playground. The poodle was nowhere in sight and the park seemed to be empty for the day since the sun was beginning to set. The playground was completed with everything that one could imagine, Mankey bars in the shape of a dome, swings and among other things. Meowth didn't really know what most of these things were except for the slides. One of the slides was a tall metal slide and to a small cat, it was like climbing a skyscraper. Reaching the top, Meowth felt the wind blow in its face as an image of being in the hot air balloon flashed before its eyes. Sadden by the feelings of nostalgia, Meowth tried to remember some more details of its last few memories with its friends.

    "I think someone else was with us that day? There was another human sitting with us as we discussed the upcoming events for Team Rocket. Could it have been another member? Was someone else really there?" Meowth shook the negative thoughts out of its head as the images of the attackers from the mountains and the shadow figures from its dreams clouded its mind as it looked down.

    "I will find Team Rocket!" He thought confidently and with that Meowth surfed down the slide while standing on its hind legs. At the end of the slide, Meowth jumped while performing an acrobatic flip as it made a perfect landing.

    "And the judges give Meowth a perfect score!" Meowth thought humorously as an imaginary crowd applauded.

    "Whoa…" Meowth suddenly lost its balance as its vision became hazy.

    "I should probably take it easy." Walking over to see another slide that was smaller in size and was red due to being plastic was attached to what seemed to be some sort of fort. Observing this odd contraption, Meowth took notice that on the side of the fort were six blocks forming a big square. These blocks had symbols on them; letters to be exact and the blocks were moveable by spinning them.

    "I wonder what this is for," Meowth thought as it playfully whacked the blocks back and forth but then quickly got bored.

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    Sounds of someone running through the playground's soft dirt filled his ears but before Meowth could do anything, small arms grabbed him around the waist pulling him close to the body they were attached to.

    "I caught you!" A little girl exclaimed.

    "Huh? Hey, let me go!" Meowth struggled as it wiggled its way out of her grip. Looking to see who it was, Meowth saw the little girl who seemed to be around the mini twerp's age. She had Tyrian purple hair tied up in pigtails on the side of her head with vibrant violet eyes adorning her dark olive skin.

    She grinned smugly, "I caught you! You now belong to me Rocketeer!" She declared happily.

    "WHAT! How did you know that I'm in Team Rocket?" Meowth cried.

    "I overheard you by the square earlier today. My family happens to work closely with an organization not far from this region. A Rocketeer that is a talking Meowth is practically common knowledge. Everyone knows about you."

    "Everyone?" Meowth asked timidly.

    "I also watched you at the games. You're clearly alone, so where are your real Rusui?"

    "They're…uh…around," Meowth answered trying to avoid eye contact.

    "You know I could just tell my daddy that I found you here all alone and then he will tell the head of the team."

    "Who would that be?" Meowth asked nervously.

    "Wouldn't you like to know, tell you what let's make a real Rocketeer deal. I won't tell daddy about you if you agree to be my Pokémon for the entire day tomorrow."

    "WHAT!? Why you little br…"

    "Meowth!" "Pika!" Ash and Pikachu shouted as they arrived at the park.

    "Meowth! How dare you take off like that!" "Pika!" He chastised.

    "Now let's go back, there are hot springs and food waiting for us at the inn." He said trying to sound collected as he motioned towards Nomia Inn.

    "My Meowth doesn't go anywhere with strangers!" The little girl stepped in between them.

    "Your Meowth? Meowth doesn't belong to you!"

    "Yes it does, I caught it!" She explained by grabbing Meowth by the scruff for a brief moment. As she dropped it Meowth got close to the fort's structure for some stability hoping it could go unnoticed.

    "That's not catching a Pokémon! You need a Poké Ball to do that, besides your not even old enough to be its trainer."

    "Well it definitely doesn't belong to you, so beat it!"

    ***Thud***

    Meowth lost its balance unable to hold onto the side of the fort any longer.

    "Meowth!" Ash rushed to Meowth's side reaching out to pick it up but only to be batted away.

    "I'm taking you back and that's final!" Ash demanded as he reached for Meowth again only to be batted away harder but still no scratch. Upset and ready to give Meowth a piece of his mind stopped as he watched Meowth's trembling body prop itself up.

    "When was the last time you ate something?" He thought as he started to piece things together. "You didn't eat any of the melon I gave you. Did you have breakfast today?"

    He tried to recall earlier that day but couldn't picture it. He tried to remember anything about yesterday or the day before. All of his emotions resurfaced, the bitterness came back, the rage came back, not because of Meowth but because he failed. He didn't pay attention, he didn't take responsibility as a Pokémon trainer to watch over it. Team Rocket or not, it doesn't matter, it's a Pokémon and he should have done better. Ash watched as Meowth leaned its head against the side of the fort, as if it were giving itself a mental push, it lightly pushed itself away from the support of the fort. Instinctively, Ash reaches out only to have his hand batted away by a clawless paw once again.

    "You're a Pokémon..." He thought as the memory of finding it asleep by a fountain flashed before his eyes.

    "Hey!" The girl hollered for attention.

    "I have some cookies here, I will give you some if you agree to be mine and play with me all day tomorrow. Plus an extra request to satisfy me of course." She winked to that last part as she waved a bag in front of them. Ash snickered at her request knowing full well that there was no way Meowth would go for that.

    "They're double chocolate chip with macadamia nuts and caramel pieces." She hummed.

    "Double…chocolate?" Meowth murmured. Ash turned to Meowth who seemed to be considering the idea.

    "Aha, with yummy gooey caramel centers and nuts."

    "Caramel centers and nuts…" Meowth thought dreamily before snapping out of it. "Oh…but I'm not hungry."

    Ash frowned, displeased by the lie that was becoming clearer.

    "I see…you know there are all sorts of secrets surrounding us. I could have told you one or two if you were interested. But I guess some secrets are meant to stay secrets…while other secrets I guess have a tendency to just slip out." She said the last sentence in a very shady tone for a little girl.

    "Are you for real?" Ash scoffed at her actions. "Meowth let's go…"

    "A…secret?" Meowth asked sheepishly.

    "Wow your really struggling with this." Ash watched amusingly as Meowth was having a visible inner battle with itself to fight back its own curiosity and sweet tooth.

    "Meowth, I'm sure Saul…"

    "You got yourself a deal!" Meowth shouted exasperatedly.

    "What?" "PIKA!" They screamed.

    "Yes!" The girl exclaimed proudly.

    "Wait, so you're willing to let her claim that you belong to her but when I ask you to battle that's crossing the line? Just what is your deal?" Ash yelled.

    "She has cookies," Meowth answered in a matter of fact tone, as Ash and Pikachu anime fall. Meowth walked up to the girl and obtained the bag of cookies. The girl grabs his paw with both hands feeling her slip a note.

    "Word of advice ditch the Xenos, I only want you tomorrow."

    "Xenos? What's that supposed to mean?" Ash asked heatedly.

    "It means outsider," Meowth answered.

    "Outsider?"

    "Catch you later!" She waved goodbye as she blew a kiss.

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    Meowth falls to his knees as everything started to weigh him down.

    "Meowth!" Ash rushed over kneeling down by its side.

    "Another organization here in Kalos…what's next?" Meowth thought uneasily as everything around him seemed to spin in his mind. Remembering the note, he opens his paw to see the hidden message inside. Reading it swiftly enough before the paper glowed bright white then disintegrated into ashes.

    "Pi-ka?" "Whoa, what kind of paper is that?"

    "It's fire dust parchment it was created so agents could get quick messages from each other. Depending on the grade of parchment determines the amount of time one has to read it before the message is lost forever." Meowth explained as he looked to the bag of cookies. He took one out of the bag to take a small bite, letting the cookie's sweet taste of chocolate, gooey caramel, and the crunchy nuts overwhelm his senses, as his body craved the energy it so desperately needed.

    "Yummy!"

    "Pi, Pikachu?" Pikachu jumped off of Ash's shoulder gesturing if it could have one. Normally sharing was never an option especially when it came to cookies or anything sweet for that matter but Meowth nodded to the question since he knew he wasn't going to eat them all anyway.

    "Pikachu!" Pikachu said happily as it took a bite out of its own cookie.

    "I guess sharing is a good start." Ash teased, as he enjoyed the sight before him. "I'd like one too."

    He took one for himself, "Wow, these are good!"

    Meowth lifted his cookie for another bite but stopped, instead he crumbled what was left of it.

    "Why?" "Chu," Ash asked stunned by the scratch cat's actions.

    "I'm not hungry."

    "But why? You haven't eaten anything all day!" "Chu."

    "I don't know!" He whined as he stood up slowly looking away from the two eyeing him upsettingly. Ash turned to where the paper's dust fell to the ground.

    "Wait a minute, you said agents use that kind of paper. Meowth, what's really going on here?"

    Meowth looked to his paw where the piece of parchment disappeared from, "Another team…" Meowth muttered to himself.

    "Huh? Did you say 'another team'?" Meowth quickly turned to the twerp not realizing he said his own thought out loud.

    "Uh…no, I didn't." Meowth quickly recanted.

    "Don't lie to me! Tell me what's going on. If you're in trouble I can help you, you know I will." "Pikachu."

    "I know that!" Meowth shouted as it turned its back to Ash once more.

    "I want to do it on my own." It muttered, "There was this old saying that someone back at headquarters would always tell me. 'Everything happens for a reason', it's been something I could never understand. I have been separated from the team and I'm running into the dangers because of it." Meowth fell silent briefly.

    "To be called a Rocketeer again." It whispered to itself as it looked to the ground. "I want to know if I can handle things on my own without any Team Rocket agents to protect me." It paused again then looked up at the sky.

    "I want to understand it...I want to believe that it's true!" Meowth avowed as it turned back to face Ash and Pikachu. Ash absorbed every word as he viewed it, feeling a familiar desire becoming stronger.

    "It's that look again…"

    "Yes, I agree!" Ash smiled as he got up, "I believe that everything happens for a reason too. What did the note say?

    "That's none of your business." Meowth snapped harshly.

    "What?"

    "This is a matter for Team Rocket personal only, not for silly twerps like you." It stated.

    "Team Rocket? Outsider? What exactly is going on here? You're planning to steal something aren't you?"

    "Maybe we are, maybe we're not," Meowth said snidely. "They must have sent that girl to be the messenger."

    "But you said you wouldn't."

    "I also said I had every intention to rejoin Team Rocket. So consider this our last day traveling together." Ash's rage regained full control inside of him. What was he to make of all of this? Despite everything that has happened, resentment towards the feline never ceased to fuel his anger. Meowth began to walk out of the park, as he was happy with himself.

    "I did it! There's no way we'll be traveling together now!" Ash caught up to Meowth quickly and grabbed it by the scruff.

    "Let go of me!"

    "If you think I'm just going to let you walk off so you could go steal with your buddies, you got another thing coming! How dare you try to fool me again! So what's Team Rocket after this time? Where are you meeting them?" He shouted harshly as Meowth struggled to get out of his grip. After a few tries, Meowth was able to wiggle itself to be able to use fury swipes on Ash's face causing him to let go.

    "OWWWWW! PIKACHU USE THUNDERBOLT!"

    "PIKACHUUUU!" Meowth dodged the attack by jumping on top of the Mankey bar dome.

    "Get Real! Like I'm going to tell you!"

    "I'm not going to let you get away with this Meowth!" He thought bitterly as he pulled out an empty Poké Ball.

    "Pikachu thunderbolt Meowth now!"

    "PIKA…CHUUU!" Meowth felt the shock but was able to dodge the full onslaught of the attack by making his way to the park's exit.

    "This Rocket is blasting off!" Meowth exclaimed as he darted off into town with the twerp and Pikachu in hot pursuit. Meowth picked up speed and was able to lose them, using the darkness that the evening sky supplied to his advantage to hide from them.

    Ash stopped running as he began to give up on finding the little Pokémon by himself.

    "I will find you Meowth! I will always find you, and when I do you'll be sorry!" Ash yelled out his threats. Soon after that, Meowth overheard him talk to Pikachu about getting the other Pokémon.

    "Sounds like I should leave town for now? Noivern will make hiding here difficult."

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    Author notes:

    "Nya"- This is the Japanese version of "meow".

    Rusui- means caretaker or keeper was an official post in the Edo era. One of the kanji symbols means to guard/protect, so I thought it was the best to use in this context. I shall be introducing other words for this story in the future.

    xenos- is the greek work for outsider/stranger/enemy etc., again I will explain my uses as the story develops further.

    Meowth is a Pokémon by nature, I don't remember much from the anime but I am going to make it so where Meowth does not know what everything is and that it will need someone to explain things to it since it is in fact a Pokémon. Hence why I made it naive to what everything was in the park.
    Chapter 10
    Author Notes:

    Clio-name of the Greek muse of history. Muses were considered to be the very best in their practice/field and challenging them ultimately leads to defeat.

    Hill of Laurel- based off of La Bastille, which is the largest tourist site in Grenoble.

    Laurel museum- based off of Grenoble Archaeological Museum, which is at the foot of the famous site La Bastille (a mountain not to be confused with the obvious). The museum used to be Saint Laurent church.

    Cularo Museum-this is based off of the Grenoble museum of fine arts. They have a sculpture garden among other things.


    Chapter 10: Strange Hunting​

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    "Sounds of water rippling through my body…"

    **Tic-tock, tic-tock, tic-tock, tic-tock**

    Slowly turning around to only see blades of grass fly about. In the far of distance standing in the grassy field was a tall dark human figure covered in shadows.

    **Tic-tock, tic-tock, tic-tock, tic-tock**

    "Timing is everything…" Anthony's voice echoed as the sound of ticking clocks filled the air. The dark figure vanished as a giant white clock took the shadow's place and the barren valley in the lower part of the mountains replaced the fields.

    **Tic-tock, tic-tock, tic-tock, tic-tock**

    "Timing is everything…" Anthony's voice echoed as the sound of ticking clocks filled the air. The clock had no hands as it ticked away, while it also had a strong resemblance to the moon. The clock released multiple orbs of light as it dissolved, revealing the cave that it was blocking. As Meowth began to move forward, it felt a large dark presence behind it. Slowly turning to see none other than the dark shadow figure standing right behind him as blades of grass flew about. The human slowly reached his dark hand out to touch Meowth's forehead, as cold, dark air seemed to emanate from the man's body.

    "GET AWAY FROM ME!" The orbs of light quickly engulfed Meowth as he screamed pushing the shadow figure away. The shadow figure stepped back, as the orbs of light fluttered away towards the cave.

    "Follow…me…" He heard a quiet voice, however the shadow figure multiplied himself, surrounding Meowth.

    **Tic-tock, tic-tock, tic-tock, tic-tock**

    The voice of the clock filled its ears again as it saw the orbs of light disappearing into the cave.

    "Follow me…" He heard the quiet voice but couldn't get threw as the shadow figures slowly raised their dark hands up towards Meowth, allowing the cold, dark air to emanate from their bodies.

    "Follow me…" He heard the quiet voice again as a bright light shunned the shadows, leaving Meowth alone with an orb of light that came from the high mountain peaks in the far off distance.

    **Tic-tock, tic-tock, tic-tock, tic-tock**

    "Follow me…" He heard the quiet voice again as the orb of light went towards the cave.

    "Follow me…Follow…me…"

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    Meowth was waiting patiently for the annoying girl by an old building on the northwest side of town. It was called the Laurel Museum and it was near a large hilltop and the river served as the town's border on the west side. Like the area where Nomia Inn was located this area also had a rustic charm with its weathered down cobblestone paths. It was pretty quiet as well, but that was only due to how early Meowth was required to meet this girl. Meowth was sitting by the river bank taking in all the sounds surrounding him; the birds were chirping, the sound of the wheels from a bicycle riding along the uneven trails as its rider rang its bell once in a while, the sound of the light breeze the wind gave as it brushed the flowers that Meowth was sitting nearby and the sound of the fast rushing water of the river. It was all peaceful but it couldn't wash away the irritation that was building up for what was to come.

    "I couldn't sleep at all again. At least she wants to do it early, I don't know how much more I can take."

    "PIKA BOO!" She pops up from behind him.

    "GAHHH! Why You…" She raised her hand to silence him.

    "I want to do this properly," she started as she placed her right hand over her heart with her left reaching out openly. "My name is Clio and I want to be your Rusui for the day. I promise I will take good care of you." She smiled openly.

    Meowth who was still peeved couldn't help but smile a little as the pigtailed girl gleamed in front of him; "I'm Meowth, as a..." Meowth paused on the next word, not sure if it was right for him to say. However, the girl's energy was so lively that it filled him with the confidence to be proud of what it is.

    "Everything happens for reason, right?"

    "As a Rocketeer I promise to make today a blastastic adventure!" He said proudly as he returned the gesture extending his paw to touch her hand. Sparks fluttered through Meowth's body once he touched her, an image of a cave appeared.

    "What?" Meowth thought while catching his breath as the sensation left.

    "Oh, I almost forgot." She dropped her bag on the ground and pulled out something that made Meowth go pale.

    "Here it is!" She presented a cream colored collar with a leash attached to it.

    "What do you intend to do with that?" Meowth asked fearfully.

    "What do you think? Now hold still…"

    "Hold on! There's no way I'm wearing that thing! I'm not your pet!"

    "I caught you fair and square yesterday, remember? You are to do what I say when I say it. Now hold still or do you want me to tell Daddy the story about the little Rocketeer that got lost in the Kalos region." Clio threatened.

    "Forget it! I will pretend that you are my protector for the day but a leash is where I draw the line! I just got rid of the last annoying pest, so don't you start getting on my nerves so early on in the day!"

    "Huh, Are you talking about that boy who came by yesterday? I was wondering about that, I saw you help him win the games. So what's the deal between you two?"

    "We are enemies, he would always interfere with Team Rocket's plans. I got separated from my teammates and unfortunately, I ran into the twerp. They practically forced me to travel with them, thinking that they could change me; it was unbearable being with them. But it doesn't matter now; I'm not traveling with them anymore. Knowing the twerp, he will be on the first train headed towards Snowbelle City for his next gym badge." Meowth spoke frustratingly.

    "They? You were traveling with a group of Xenos? That sounds awful!" Clio observed the thrashing water of the river before she spoke up again.

    "Alright, I won't do the leash, just put on the collar. The rules for all organizations are pretty much the same. There are multiple ways to catching a Pokéteer and I did catch you yesterday so the least you can do is wear the collar." Meowth mulled it over before reluctantly sighing in defeat.

    "Fine, but just for today and please do me a favor…"

    "Don't mention that detail to anyone else, got it!" She interrupted as she gave him a thumbs up. Clio grinned, as she was able to place the collar onto Meowth. She twirled happily in her dark red sundress completed with a black bow at the waist and a silver necklace in the shape of the sun.

    "When I'm old enough I want to become an agent for the organization that my family works for. I have heard stories about Miss. Miyamoto. She was a strong and intelligent agent for Team Rocket. I want to become a Rusui for one of our organization's Pokéteers because that is how Miss. Miyamoto and my grandmother started off. I want to be just like them when I grow up. So that is where you come in, I need you to teach me how to be a strong, dependable agent." She turned her attention to the strong currents of the river as she sat down and pulled out a lunch box with some croissants and apple slices.

    "I brought us some breakfast, so sit down and let's eat." Meowth sat next to her as she handed it a croissant.

    "I'm not hungry."

    "Did you eat already?" Meowth shook its head as its eyes were filled with sorrow. "I just haven't been hungry lately."

    "Here," she broke off a little piece of her croissant, "Breakfast is the best way to start off any day to gain extra energy. These croissants are the best, they are so flaky and buttery." She said with a warm smile as she bit into her own. "Soooo good!"

    "She is right…" Meowth thought as he observed her energetic response to the taste. "Is it that good?"

    Meowth looked at the flaky piece of pastry before gradually nibbling on it, "Yummy."

    Clio smiled as she watched it. "This is going to be a great day!"

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    Ash vigorously took a bite out of his breakfast as if he were attacking it like a ferocious beast.

    "I guess Team Rocket wasn't easy to find this time," Serena spoke carefully.

    "It's quite unfortunate, I was truly hoping for the best. Do you really think that Meowth was telling the truth?" Clemont voiced his concerns. "I kind of find it hard to believe that they didn't try to attack you right then and there. They're not exactly subtle." Ash stopped eating as he looked at his messy plate, thinking back to last night.

    "Okay, well our train doesn't leave till the afternoon. I will come back in a while after I do some shopping. While I'm out I will keep my eyes open for anything suspicious." Serena said.

    "I'll come with you!" Bonnie announced.

    "We're off!" They waved goodbye.

    Ash continued to look down at his plate as he thought about last night.

    "I want to understand it…" Meowth's voice rang through his mind. "Maybe we are, maybe we're not."

    "Was it lying?" Ash pondered over the idea but then he remembered what Meowth said about not caring what Team Rocket does is wrong and not caring how their evil deeds affect others. He aggressively took another bite.

    "We should stay here! Team Rocket is probably going to attack the inn to try to steal our Pokémon!"

    "Uh…okay…whatever you say, Ash," Clemont said anxiously as he watched Ash viciously eat his breakfast.

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    "Ah…what a good way to start off the day!" Clio exclaimed as Meowth was sulking internally about the collar.

    "So what do you want to do today?" Meowth asked miserably as Clio was putting away her lunch box. As she stood back up a note fell out of her pocket, which caught Meowth's attention.

    "What's that?"

    "Looks like a note from my brother." She answered. "Huh…it looks like he wants me to do a scavenger hunt with you. It says: Timing can be a great healer or it can cause great pain. Reveal the secrets yourself, otherwise, it will all be meaningless."

    "Time?" Meowth thought. "Wait, did you say brother?"

    "Yeah, we watched you at the games together."

    "This whole thing is completely pointless!" Meowth cried as it shriveled up onto the ground with the evil collar still around its neck.

    "Don't worry, he's not going to tell anyone, I promise. Please, let's do it together, I want this to be my first mission as an agent."

    "Fine, but I don't see how this would qualify as a mission for you since there most likely won't be any stealing." They both looked at the first clue and to Meowth's dismay, it was a riddle.

    Dark crypt you will surely trip, light it up and you will surely skip.

    "Dark Crypt?"

    "There happens to be a crypt here in the museum maybe it's about that," Clio answered.

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    The museum had interesting trinkets and some of them were quite shiny, distracting Meowth from the task at hand as it ran off to get closer, "So shiny…that one is shiny and round, I want it."

    "Remember what we're here for," Clio chastised, "The crypt is this way."

    She led the way to a dark stairwell that was off-limits. While no one was looking they snuck past the blocked entry to get inside the crypt. It was dark so Meowth flicked its koban to active its flash.

    "Whoa!" Clio whispered her amazement. The crypt was being used as the museum's storage unit. Looking through some boxes Meowth noticed some crystals and other gems that were labeled with the location of where they were found. Still looking around Meowth spotted an old vase with a Skiploom on it. Meowth stopped Clio and pointed her to it. She reached inside and sure enough, there was another clue.

    "Huh? Why is there light on down here?" The two froze as they heard a security guard's voice. Meowth immediately turned off the flash and pulled Clio close.

    "Follow me." He whispered as he led her through the dark crypt avoiding the security guard's flashlight as Meowth followed the scent of air that could get them out a different way.

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    Catching their breath from all the excitement, they were back where they started by the river's edge. Clio remembered the clue and handed it over to Meowth.

    In the field, the sunlight should heal the yellow flower of the little fellow.

    "Is there a field around here?" Meowth asked.

    "I think he means the soccer field by the park, there's a group of Skiploom that like to hang out there. We just have to go through town to get to it."

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    They reached the park and saw the field up ahead where a group of Skiploom were floating about.

    "Hey, can we get a closer look at you guys? We're looking for a clue." Meowth asked the Skiploom. But the Skiploom took one look at him and floated away in disgust.

    "So much for that." Meowth sighed dejectedly as it watched the Skiploom scatter. Team Rocket or no Team Rocket, it didn't matter, it was a rare occurrence when a Pokémon accepted him for who he was. It looked around and saw one Skiploom on the ground, so Meowth walked up to it.

    "Does the way I talk offend you too?" Meowth asked spitefully as it was slightly hurt by the rejection. The Skiploom didn't respond or move. Clio came up to get a closer look and smiled.

    "It's a fake, the note must be inside. Pop it open." She suggested. Meowth did so by poking a claw into it, popping it open with confetti flying about along with the next clue.

    Flowers bloom, towers stand tall, clocks tick the hours away but all share the sun for the day.

    "What the…?" They puzzled over it.

    "Could your brother mean the Kairos Clock Tower?"

    "Oh…you could be right. Okay, let's go!" She snickered as she started to drag it into town.

    "Please take this horrible thing off me! " Meowth begged as he pointed to the collar.

    "No way! Clio teased. She suddenly stopped as something startled her; she grabbed Meowth and ran so they were hidden in a dark alley. Meowth was surprised by this and was about to say something till he saw two older boys that were walking past the alley they were in. He tensed up as Clio held onto him close. Feeling her shudder as she tightened her grip, he allowed it as he started to relax. It seemed like she needed it. He allowed her a few minutes before pawing her nose, then gently pushing her away.

    "They hate my brother and they like to pick on me when he is not around. When I become an agent I'm going to make those Xenos pay for everything." She said with a hint of vengeance in her young voice. Meowth smiled softly as he started to understand the poor girl's predicament. Meowth tapped her on the nose again as he smiled, pointing to the collar with a plea full stare.

    "No way!"

    Meowth collapsed to its defeat, disappointed with the situation. "This girl…"

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    They reached the town square as they ran up to get a closer look at the Kairos Clock Tower. Meowth couldn't help but feel the judgmental stares it was receiving from other Pokémon. "This is so humiliating!"

    "Isn't it beautiful? Grandpa told me that Kairos Clock Tower is about following the right moment."

    "The right moment?"

    **Tic-tock**

    "My Grandpa also told me that the fountains surrounding it represent the phases of the moon." She led it to one of the fountains to see the bottom had a painting of a Waning Gibbous. They walked around to look at the others, but Meowth made a mental note that there was no fountain for the full moon. They came to the fountain that represented the new moon, which was right in front of the statue with its head down.

    **Tic-tock**

    Meowth looked up at the statue and for the first time noticed that the statue had a necklace in the shape of the sun. Meowth quickly pulled on Clio's dress for her attention as it pointed towards the statue. "The sun is for all, that's my big brother for ya!"

    **Tic-tock**

    Meowth observed the statue a little more. This one didn't have a blindfold like the other one; it just had its head down with its right hand over its heart with a necklace in the shape of the sun. Meowth looked closer and saw what appeared to be a note in its hand that was over the heart. In a matter of seconds, Meowth jumped towards the statue and grabbed the note.

    "Hand it over I'll read it this time," Clio said.

    Voices sing at the spring, relax and enjoy the spot but please don't stay too long for only a fool does not know to cool when it's too hot

    "Oh, No it couldn't possibly mean what I think it means." Meowth thought in horror.

    "Hmm…he must mean Nomia Inn that's the only place around here with hot springs." Meowth became pale at the thought of going there in its current dilemma. Its ears twitched to a familiar voice, Meowth turned to see that his nightmare was starting as he saw Bonnie and Serena exiting a shop.

    "I can't let them see me!" He quickly grabbed Clio and pulled her behind the tower to hide with him.

    "Hey! What gives?" She shouted.

    "SHHH…" Meowth pointed towards the twerps. She looked up not entirely sure what he was pointing too.

    "Is that Meowth…Hey Meowth!" He heard Serena's voice from afar.

    "No, No, No, No!" Meowth quickly ran off with Clio right behind him.

    "Huh…who was that girl?" Serena asked as they both watched the fleeing duo.

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    Finally feeling that they have lost sight of the twerps, Meowth stopped behind a building that was off the beaten path towards the inn.

    "Care to tell me what's going on?" Clio asked as she panted.

    "The twerp's friends were out there. They were the ones I was traveling with and there is no way I will have them see me like this." He pointed to the collar. "I made him believe I found Team Rocket last night. If they find out that I was lying they are going to try to force me to travel with them again and unfortunately they are currently staying at the Nomia Inn."

    "Oh, well that certainly is a problem." She nods excitedly, "Okay, operation avoid the Xenos at all cost is now in session! Don't worry; I will make sure they won't see you. I know this inn like the back of my hand; we can just sneak in from the back. That's where the springs are and that is probably where our next clue will be."

    "Yay, but their Pokémon may still be out."

    "That's okay, just stay hidden in the bushes that are near the surrounding walls and if you get confronted by one just talk like a normal Pokémon."

    "That's not," Meowth sighed as he saw how excited she was for this mission of hers. "Okay, I will follow your lead."

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    Meowth picked the lock to the gate that blocked their way to the springs. Luckily, none of the Pokémon were around, but Meowth quickly ducked and pulled Clio down with him.

    "Do you know what rooms those windows belong too." She looked over and noticed the few windows and the glass sliding doors.

    "The windows belong to the kitchen and so do the glass doors. No guests are allowed in that area, if they were to come out here they would have to use those doors over there." She pointed to the old wooden doors.

    "Phew, they must be packing up since their train leaves in the afternoon." He got up to resume their search.

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    Ash and Clemont were in their room, packing their belongs while some of their Pokémon were relaxing. An inaudible noise to the humans caught Hawlucha's attention and started to wander off. Pikachu watched it leave as its ears started to twitch picking up on the sound that caused its friend to wander off.

    "Huh, Pikachu?"

    "They're probably going to go join the others at the hot spring," Clemont suggested.

    "It's been relatively quiet, maybe Meowth was lying." Ash paused as he looked up at Clemont.

    "Don't you think Team Rocket would have already attacked us by now?" Ash thought about it but didn't say anything as he resumed packing his belongings as he thought about the events of last night. Rummaging through his backpack he found the cookies that Meowth left behind at the park. Ash sighed deeply as he eyed the sweet treats questionably.

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    Meowth was contemplating over what the clue could mean as he walked up towards the spring.

    "Could it be underwater?" The steam from the water became thick, as he got closer.

    "Whoa…" Meowth lost his balance as the steam was causing him to get lightheaded.

    "Are you alright?" Clio asked as she was looking around the patio.

    "Uh…yeah, I'm fine." Meowth tried his best to sound cheerful. Greninja suddenly jumped out of the water and pounced towards Meowth. "Gah!"

    "Grrreee…" Greninja growled. Meowth felt a tap on his shoulder. He turned around to see Pancham standing behind him.

    "Where are they all coming from!?" Meowth thought in horror.

    "Pancham, Pan, Pan." (Pikachu told us everything. Is it true? Are you really back with Team Rocket?) Pancham asked disheartened by the circumstances but was also angry that nothing has changed.

    "Greninja, Gren, Greninja." (I'm not surprised! There's nothing good about you! You're a disgrace to all Pokémon! You don't belong here, so get out of here before I force you out!)

    "Hold on I'm just here for a clue. I don't want to stay here any longer than I have too. Was there anything underwater?" Meowth tried to stay calm and collected as furious Pokémon surrounded it.

    "I don't think it would be underwater." Clio walked beside it as she glared at the other Pokémon.

    "Greninja?" (Who's she?)

    "Braxien, Brax, Braxien?" (What's this thing?) Braxien pulled on the collar with her stick.

    "Hey get off!" Clio pushed Braxien away.

    "Way to make things worse." Meowth thought as all eyes narrowed onto him.

    "Greninja, Gren." (Look who's the pet now!) Greninja snickered, as all the Pokémon laughed.

    "It's still you!" Meowth shouted menacingly causing everyone to glare at it. Just then Hawlucha and Pikachu finally arrived onto the scene.

    "Pika, Pikachu!" (Meowth, how dare you show yourself after last night!) Pikachu threatened as sparks of lighting were ready to fly.

    "Would you all just Shut Up! I'm not here to fight you and don't worry I will be out of here once I find what I'm looking for, so just stay out of my way!" Meowth stopped, as its dizziness got a little worse; it started to wobble towards the patio to get away from the hot spring.

    "Hawlucha?" (What are you looking for?) It asked calmly. Meowth ignores the question as he turned his attention to the girl who ran up to him.

    "I need to see the clue again." He spoke calmly as she handed it over while a mix of agitated and impartial Pokémon watched.

    "Is there something around here that involves voices?" Meowth asked looking around, "Like maybe a picture of a Jigglypuff?"

    Clio looked at him puzzled, as she clearly didn't have an answer. Hawlucha, Bunnelby, and Pancham came up behind them.

    "I wasn't asking you!" Meowth barked at them.

    "Bun, Bun, Bunnel?" (What are you doing?) It asked as it was trying to stay neutral.

    "None of your business so beat it!"

    "Pika, Pikachu…" Hawlucha raised its wing in front of Pikachu to silence him, as it continued its gaze onto the unsteady Pokémon. Clio observed the situation closely as Meowth was clearly struggling to stay on its feet.

    "I'm going to go inside and get us something to eat." She stated as she headed for the glass doors.

    "No wait, you can't go inside! I can't let the twerps see me. We need to find the next clue so we can get out of here as fast as we can. Furthermore, why are you going inside that way?"

    "Oh, didn't I tell you my Grandpa owns this inn."

    "WHAT!? Your Grandpa! Wait, could he be affiliated with the organization too?"

    "What kind of stupid question is that? Of course, he is! He used to be an agent as well."

    "What have I gotten myself into!?" Meowth goes completely pale. "You didn't tell him about me, did you? Just who are you, people?" He asked franticly.

    "Don't worry, my Grandpa is retired and I promised I wouldn't tell. You have nothing to fear." With that, she ran inside. Meowth lost its balance completely as everything weighed itself down.

    "What have I gotten myself into!?" He cried as he pouted on the ground as all the Pokémon watched dumbfounded to what was going on.

    "Pika?" (What's going on?)

    Meowth ignored the questionable stares as it laid face down on the ground, troubled with the circumstances it found itself in.

    "Can this day get any worse…huh?" It felt something cool land on its back as it looked up to see Pancham giving it a cool towel.

    "Pan." (Here)

    Shocked by the gesture, Meowth observed the cool fabric.

    "Cool when it's too hot?" It muttered to itself. "Cool when it's too hot." A little louder, "Cool when it's too hot!" It exclaimed excitedly

    "Pancham where did you find this? Are there more?" Pancham was taken back by the sudden change of behavior it then pointed to the cooler with the towels inside. Meowth quickly stood up only to lose its balance again as it became increasingly dizzy.

    "I shouldn't have done that." Meowth slowly sat up straight as it held its head, then got back on its feet slowly. Too distracted by the task at hand, he ran passed the concerned and confused Pokémon. Collapsing again in front of the cooler this time, Meowth opened it up, desperately pulling out all of the towels to find the next clue.

    "Where is it?" He couldn't find it. He looked through the pile of discarded towels, "Where is it?" Finally, a clue popped out of the towels, "I found it!"

    As he was about to grab it, a gust of wind picked it up carrying it over to the spring but was saved by Greninja who held it begrudgingly. Meowth glared at him coldly as he began to wobble towards the giant frog.

    "Hand it over!" Meowth demanded menacingly.

    "Hawlucha, Hawlucha, Lucha, Haw." (Greninja, he helped us win the games. We had the feast, let him have what he came for.) Greninja returned an even more threating glare before giving the clue to Meowth who swiped it out of its hand forcefully. Ready to look it over, Meowth lost its balance again as it tried to read in its weakened state.

    "I brought out some chocolate pudding for everyone!" Clio exclaimed as she carried out a tray. Some of the Pokémon ran up to her as she placed the tray down for each of them to get one for themselves. She grabbed one for Meowth and ran over to it, who was still sitting where it collapsed as some of the Pokémon were still gathered around it.

    "You found the clue! Here, eat up!" She tried handing him the pudding cup.

    "I'm not hungry." He mumbled.

    "The steam from the hot springs is making you feel dizzy because you have an empty stomach. The steam wouldn't bother you as much once you have a few bites of something."

    "Then let's leave, I don't want to stay here any longer than I have too." It demanded as it slowly got up.

    "Pika! Pikachu?"

    "Pancham, Pam!"

    "Shut up! I got what I came here for, now I'm leaving!" He shouted as he headed for the gate they entered in from. Hawlucha, however, was not going to let that happen as it blocked the gate entirely with its wingspan spread out.

    "Hawlucha! Hawlucha, Haw!" (I understand clearly now that you have lied to Ash and Pikachu yesterday.) Pancham and Bunnelby joined up with Hawlucha as well.

    "Bun, Bunnelby, Bunnel, by, by." (You should really eat something, there's no need for you to leave so hastily.)

    "Pan, Pan!" (That's right!)

    "Are you all joking? I had no intention of being a friend to any of you because I want to return to Team Rocket. I never lied to you about that. I never wanted to travel with the twerps in the first place and yet you all treated me like it was my idea, that it was apart of some great big scheme. So what if I lied yesterday, none of you wanted me around to begin with. How Dare You!" He shouted as he stomped his foot hard into the ground. "You never cared about me before so how dare you all act as if you care now!" He shouted.

    "Get…out of my way!" He growled venomously as he stared down the Pokémon who refused to back away.

    "PIKA PI! PIKA PI!" Pikachu screamed for Ash as all the other Pokémon followed suit.

    "Quick, run for that alley we were in before!" He ordered Clio.

    "What about you?"

    "I will meet you there, now hurry!" She ran out through the glass doors as Meowth returned his full glare back onto the blockade in front of him. Meowth quickly spun around using flash on everyone, which seemed to have multiplied but they couldn't really tell since the light was too bright.

    "Pikachu! Everyone! What's wrong?" Ash came running out with Clemont right behind him. As the Pokémon regained their vision they saw that Meowth was gone.

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    "That was quick!" Clio noted as she was catching her breath when Meowth showed up.

    "I really shouldn't have done that." Meowth thought dizzily.

    "What on earth happened back there?"

    "Let's just say I finally ended my affiliation with them." He said proudly as they watched quietly in the shadows as Serena and Bonnie went inside. "I finally did it! I got rid of them! The twerps are going to call back all of their Pokémon now, head for the train and that will be the end of it."

    All steel and no time to heal, ears like a bunny with a Poké Ball for a body, hop away in the garden today before time runs away.

    "More riddles…" Meowth whined.

    "Hmm…steel…garden…I think he is talking about the sculpture garden at the museum."

    "I didn't see any gardens there."

    "Not that one. Cularo Town's Museum of Fine Arts."

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    Ash and Clemont were trying to calm down the Pokémon as they each started to call them back into their poke balls.

    "We're back!" Bonnie exclaimed as she and Serena joined everyone outside.

    "Guess what, we saw Meowth headed this way," Bonnie said.

    "Yeah, and it was headed this way with some girl about Bonnie's age," Serena added.

    "A girl you say?" Ash echoed.

    "Pika Pi, Pikachu, Pi, Pikachu." Pikachu tried to explain to Ash.

    "Huh…what is it Pikachu?"

    "Yeah, and we didn't see any signs of Team Rocket while we were out." Ash looked at Serena unsure what to say.

    "Meowth is…pretty good at deceiving people, isn't it?" Clemont spoke softly as Ash turned to Clemont to see Saul was walking up behind him.

    "I see my granddaughter has handed out some pudding cups to your Pokémon." He said causing everyone to take notice of the empty pudding cups that were littered on the tray.

    "Did you enjoy your stay?" Saul asked as he stared at Ash who was downcasted.

    "Yes we did, thank you," Clemont answered.

    Saul looked at his wristwatch, "Shouldn't you all be heading towards the train station? You should hurry, you don't want to miss your ride."

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    Laurel Museum was minuscule in comparison to the Cularo Town Museum, which was on the far southwest side of town. The building was the size of a modern-day palace, with a garden just as large.

    "This is going to take us all day." Meowth thought miserably as it sluggishly followed Clio.

    "Let's sit here." She suggested to a stone bench that had some bushes in the shape of poke balls and a fountain behind it.

    "They make the best crepes here." She pointed to a food cart that was across from them.

    "I'm going to go get us some, wait here." She ran off before Meowth could protest to the idea. It wasn't long till she came back and handed Meowth a small crepe of its own as she sat down.

    "This one is my favorite, it has strawberries and mangos with a hazelnut chocolate drizzle."

    "Thank you, but I told you before that I haven't been hungry lately," Meowth said solemnly.

    "I know but its really good, I just couldn't resist not getting one." She said as she bit into her own. "After this, we will find that next clue in no time." Meowth watched her energetically enjoy the crepe. He looked at his and started to smile lightly.

    "Well, I do love mangos…and chocolate of course." He thought as he started to nibble at it slowly, "Wow, this is good!" He exclaimed as he continued to eat it.

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    "That was a yummy snack!" Clio said as both of them finished their stuffed crepes.

    "We should go look at a map to see where the correct statue might be." They both walked up to a giant board that had a map with all the statues, fountains and any other artwork that was spread throughout the garden.

    "Ears like a bunny with a Poké Ball for a body." She muttered. "Hmm…there's a Buneary statute over here and there's a Lopunny fountain over there, but how would the body of a Poké Ball come into play."

    "Maybe it's the combination of one with an Electrode or maybe it's holding a Poké Ball," Meowth suggested as he viewed the map.

    "Let's just start looking, I'm sure we'll find it." He said confidently.

    They walked through the garden passing by art sculptures of all sorts of Pokémon. One even had a Meowth and a Persian playing together.

    "What kind of cruel person would make such an awful thing," Meowth said in repugnance.

    "What's wrong with it?"

    "Everything!"

    "But isn't that what you evolve into."

    "People who want a stupid Persian are complete idiots!" Meowth declared as he walked on leaving behind a baffled Clio.

    "Did I miss something here?"

    A large metal statue caught Meowth's eyes as it saw large bunny shaped ears sticking out as the statue itself was behind a hedge.

    "What's that statue over there?" He asked as he pointed towards it. They walked around the hedge to see it was a giant metal statue with bunny like ears and a body in the shape of a Poké Ball.

    "What is it supposed to be?" He questioned as Clio walked up to the plaque.

    "It called Magearna." They gazed at it for a while in awe. Meowth snapped out of its gaze remembering what it was here for. The ball gown had an opening for its feet. Meowth hopped onto the platform when no one was looking to go underneath it, sure enough, there was a clue taped to one of its feet. Meowth quickly jumped off before anyone saw it as it rejoined Clio to read the next clue.

    Congratulations, you are almost there. Now climb to the top to see what is there.

    "Another riddle…" Clio said unhappily. "Climb to the top, he must mean the Hill of Laurel, which is by the museum we were at earlier today."

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    They began to walk through town, as they were about to cross some train tracks. The crossing rang its bells as the train was coming to pass. Watching the train go by Meowth smiled widely as it waved the train goodbye.

    "Later Twerps! Ha, Ha!" He laughed as he was finally free of them. Clio reached over and unclipped the collar, causing Meowth to quickly snap his attention to her.

    "Let's go finish what we started!" She said encouragingly as she too waved the train goodbye. The train was gone and their path was unblocked with the hilltop in their sights.

    "Yes!" Meowth said as it lit up with delight with a big smile enhancing its features.

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    "Are we really going to leave without Meowth?" Bonnie asked sadly as she and everyone else were looking at Ash.

    Serena looked around, "Where's Pancham and Hawlucha? I didn't see them inside?"

    "Pika Pi! Pikachu!" Ash looked to Pikachu not sure what it was trying to say.

    "I think the Pokémon are trying to say they went to go look for it." Clemont tried his best to translate as the Pokémon nodded, showing their approval to the answer.

    "Meowth is missing?" Saul asked as he looked around. "I see, may I ask how you kids came into contact with that Meowth?"

    "What do you mean?" Clemont asked.

    "I knew immediately that Meowth didn't belong to any of you and I think it's safe to assume you know who it's connected too."

    "You're right, it works for Team Rocket," Ash spoke up.

    "And it told me that it was rejoining Team Rocket here in town to steal again." He finished his last sentence bitterly.

    "I see."

    "When I found it at the park a girl got it to agree to pretend to be her Pokémon for the entire day. It was odd; it didn't make any sense to me at all so when it said that she was just a messenger, I believed it. You were right Clemont, I still have some resentment towards Meowth…it just made me so angry that I didn't want to see past it all." He spoke softly as his frustration with himself, with Meowth and with everything else shook his entire being.

    "It made a deal with a girl? Could you be talking about my granddaughter?" Saul inquired.

    "She didn't say her name, just that she claimed she caught Meowth just by grabbing it. Which is totally ridiculous!" Ash explained as his voice started to fill up with annoyance.

    "I see…sounds like my granddaughter, alright. I must apologize to you for her behavior. Luckily, I think I have an idea of where they might be. Collect your Pokémon and I will lead you to them in time for you to catch the last train that will leave for Snowbelle City."

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    The sun was starting to set as they walked up to the steep hill. Meowth was fighting with its own body to keep going as its muscles started to tighten and its mind was shutting down fast as it continued to walk up the hill beside Clio.

    "I'm so tired, I hope we're almost done." They reached the top and Meowth plopped itself down onto the ground forcing a mini-break session for the two.

    "You have got to see the view!" She exclaimed as she pulled it up and dragged it towards the fenced edge of the cliff. Looking over to see the whole town as the sun was covering it with a warm glow. Meowth kneeled down to lean over the lowest part of the fence as its energy was seeping out of it faster than snow melting in the summer heat. Looking up it saw a tower viewer that was nearby.

    "Hey what is that thing over there?" He pointed over to it.

    "It's a tower viewer. You can get a closer look at the town square by using it."

    Meowth slowly walked up to it to examine it closer, "How do you use it?" Clio took out a quarter and hopped onto the stand.

    "They are like binoculars, you just put a quarter in the slot here, then you pull the lever to remove the blinds so you can see." She explained as she did just that. When she pulled the lever a note slipped out; Meowth quickly grabbed it before it could fly away.

    "The view of Kairos Clock Tower is really cool." She directed Meowth to see for itself. As Meowth was about to climb up it felt a light tap on its shoulder. It turns around to see that it was Pancham.

    "AHHHH…What are you doing here?" Meowth screamed franticly as he saw Pancham and Hawlucha who perched itself on the fence. It was a miracle as its energy rushed back to evaluate the situation in a complete panic.

    "No, No, No, No, this can't be happening! Why are you here? You should all be on the train heading for Snowbelle City." Pancham didn't answer as it glared at Meowth, as its true feelings of grief were clearly visible in its eyes.

    "Hawlucha, Haw!" Hawlucha bellowed as it jumped up to fly above them, causing Meowth to panic even more.

    "We need to get out of here and fast!" He shouted to Clio, "I don't know how much time we have but I am not going back, you hear me?" He yelled his last sentence out to the Pokémon who in return ignored his protests.

    "Ha, Ha, Ha," Evil laughter was heard from afar. The two boys from earlier walked towards them. Clio started to cower as she backed away.

    "Where's your brother, you little yaban!?" The fat light skinned toned boy asked tauntingly. Clio felt the need to run but saw the two Pokémon in front of her unaware of the situation. She took a big gulp and started to walk forward to protect them, trying hard to wear a brave face.

    "We want to battle him! Bring us to him you brat!" The other boy demanded who was shorter in height.

    "He's not here so go away!" She cried in fear as tears threatened to roll down. The fatter boy called out his Axew.

    "You need to learn your place, yaban!" The small boy said as he called out his Murkrow. They ordered their Pokémon to attack Clio directly as Murkrow used peck and Axew used scratch, causing her to fall to the ground.

    Meowth was shocked by what he was witnessing, "I remember her being scared of them. I figured they were just bullies but I never imagined it would be like this."

    "Wait we can't keep fighting her like this brother. " The small boy mocked.

    "Heh…It never stopped us before." The other one answered sadistically. They both ordered their Pokémon to attack again, but this time Meowth stepped in and covered the girl by taking the hit itself, shocking everyone who watched. Meowth looked up as the tears continued to fall from the girl's violet eyes. He pawed her nose gently and smiled warmly.

    "We agents never grant the satisfaction to our enemies by showing our tears." He whispered, "Let's show them what it means to be a true agent."

    He handed her the clue as her lavender eyes shined. Meowth turned around to face her tormenters. "I think I'm starting to understand now…"

    "Pancham, Pan!" Pancham joined Meowth, as it too was ready to fight. Hawlucha swooped in front of the boys as it flapped its wings ready to attack them directly itself.

    "Gah…where did all these Pokémon come from? You stole them, didn't you! You're just like your brother, you no good for nothing…"

    "Shut Up!" Meowth shouted as he pulled Pancham back and eyed Hawlucha to step down. For the first time, Hawlucha and Pancham saw its sapphire eyes radiate, as it's whole demeanor was filled with its own willpower.

    "Did that Meowth just talk?" The taller boy gasped. He began to laugh sinisterly as he pulled out an empty Poké Ball, "Consider today your lucky day kitty cat…Axew use dragon claw on that Meowth!"

    "Murkrow use sucker punch!"

    "Did he just call me…" Meowth gave a menacing glare as it used double team to avoid both attacks. Like a speeding bullet, Meowth took out both Pokémon in a matter of seconds. Did it just tackle them or use fury swipes? No one was able to tell, the battle was over before it even started. Meowth stepped over the fainted Pokémon as it walked towards the two buffoons.

    "Still want to fight?" It asked snidely with a paw on its hip. The boys hysterically called back their Pokémon.

    "We'll be back just you wait!" The tall fat boy threatened. Hawlucha was having none of it as it chased them down using flying press to finish them off.

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    "You did it! You did it!" "Pancham! Pancham!" They both cheered.

    "I shouldn't have done that." Meowth's cool demeanor was overtaken by its true state of mind as it shriveled up collapsing to the ground.

    "I have no energy left," Meowth thought as it slowly sat upright.

    "MEOWTH!" A familiar voice shouted from afar.

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    Author notes:

    Meowth is a cat, and if you have ever owned a cat you most likely experienced a paw in your face for attention. I intend to bring light to the cuteness that cats bring to the table, hence the constant tapping Clio's nose.

    I think this fact is slowly becoming common knowledge to Pokémon fans, but for those of you who don't know Miyamoto is Jessie's mom who was an agent that got lost searching for Mew.

    I don't remember Meowth coming across a Tower viewer in the anime, if he did...oops, again I don't watch the new stuff. And again I am treating Meowth for what it is and that is a Pokémon, meaning its not going to know everything or understand everything that a typical human does...its going to understand how a typical Pokémon does with the ability to learn more than the average Pokémon.

    If you don't know there will be a new Pokémon movie coming out this summer and one of the Pokémon is call Magearna. You can find it online to see what it looks like.

    Yaban means savage in Japanese with one of the kanji symbols meaning barbarian. I am not going to explain any further at this point, but if you kept up with me this far, I assure you there are big reasons why I am doing this.
    Chapter 11
    Author notes:

    Yukata- is a Japanese kimono for men

    Zabuton- are pillows/low seats that are used for low tables.

    Chabudai- is a very low tea table

    Shoji- the old fashion Japanese sliding doors

    Tatami- is a type of flooring

    Lavermile tea- Its the combination of chamomile and lavender...I'm not sure it exists as a real tea (I'm a coffee drinker personally) so if it does than cool but as far as I know I made this blend up.


    Chapter 11: Strange Beginnings​

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    "Look there's Hawlucha!" Ash pointed towards the hilltop.

    "I had a feeling that they would be there. Come on it's a long way up." Saul clarified as the old man in the gray yukata walked with the help of a wooden cane went up to the steep hill.

    "Ash, what was it like traveling with Meowth?" Saul was walking slowly as Ash wanted to rush up the hill. He stopped once he realized that everyone else was going at Saul's pace.

    "Honestly, a complete pain. I tried everything I could think of to make things work but Meowth constantly refused to take part in any of it. Every time I started to think that we might have made some sort of connection, we always manage to end up back where we started." "Pika, Pika!"

    "Ha, Ha." Saul chuckled softly, "Then why do you want it to travel with you so badly?"

    "Well...I..." Ash paused as he came to realize that he didn't have an answer.

    "I used to always see it as apart of Team Rocket. Normally, they would have shown up by now and everything would have returned to the way it was before." Ash explained, feeling unsatisfied as he felt the bitter heat within him starting to rise. "Now I'm starting to see what it truly is, not a member of a gang but as a Pokémon."

    "I see."

    "Meowth was the reason why we got to stay at Nomia Inn in the first place." Serena joined in the conversation.

    "It was amazing!" Bonnie chimed in.

    "It was really impressive, especially when you consider the condition it's in," Clemont added.

    "Condition?" Saul echoed.

    "It hasn't been eating much of anything lately," Clemont answered.

    "I see so it doesn't have much of an appetite either."

    "Huh?" They all stopped to look at Saul.

    "Pokémon are very sensitive creatures, depending on the severity when an unexpected change occurs it is often natural for a Pokémon to shut down. Meowth are exceptional at hiding things even from their own trainers. Ash, whatever past you may have had with Meowth, let go of your anger. Only then will you see what is truly in front of you."

    "But what can I do? Meowth isn't the easiest Pokémon to get along with."

    Saul chuckled softly, "Ha, Ha, you know I was a lot like you when I was your age. Heed my advice, seeing isn't just for the eyes, Ash."

    "Hawlucha! Haw!" They heard as they saw Hawlucha chasing two boys down the hill.

    "Hawlucha!" Ash exclaimed. The boys stopped as they almost ran into Saul.

    "Hello boys, have you seen my granddaughter?" He asked calmly as his soft grey eyes held a firm glare.

    "Eh…yes sir she's up there." The shorter boy answered nervously as he pointed up the hill.

    "Thank you, maybe the next time you're in town my grandson will be here."

    "Yes, Sir!" They shouted frantically as they both continued to scurry off.

    "Hawlucha! Hawlucha!" Hawlucha screamed at them.

    "Pika?"

    "Hawlucha!"

    "Hawlucha, is Meowth up there?" Hawlucha nodded. Ash then took off leaving everyone behind. Running up the hill he soon saw the scratch cat who was sitting on the ground with Pancham and the little girl that he met yesterday surrounding it.

    "MEOWTH!"

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    "Stay calm, stay calm." Meowth thought tensely as he heard the twerp. "Save your energy."

    "There you are!" Ash rushed over to kneel down by Meowth's side reaching out to hold it close but Meowth leaned away from his touch. He observed Meowth, quietly taking in the fact that it's breathing was irregular.

    "Listen," Ash started calmly as he grabbed an empty Poké Ball "You had a really long day, why don't you get inside so you can rest till we get to the Pokémon center in Snowbelle City."

    Meowth's anger grew to the audacity of the idea, giving it all the energy it needed to bat the Poké Ball out of the twerp's hand with full force, leaving a deep scratch in the process.

    "I'M NOT GOING INSIDE OF ANY Pokéball, YOU HEAR ME?" Meowth screamed.

    "OWWW!" Ash fell back due to the force of the attack. He held his scratched hand that started to throb from the pain as he looked to the discarded Poké Ball. He calmly returned to his position beside the scratch cat Pokémon who was still sitting on the ground refusing to acknowledge anyone as it remained fixated on the ground.

    "Pika Pi, Pikachu, Pika, Chu, Chu!" Pikachu yelled at Meowth.

    "Pikachu…stop," Ash spoke softly.

    "Why can't you take a hint? Meowth doesn't want to be with you! It belongs to Team Rocket, not to a stupid Xenos like you!" Clio shouted who was also kneeling down beside Meowth as she screamed her rhetoric towards Ash. "Leave! You're not wanted here!"

    "Pancham!" Serena cried out as she ran up to hug her Pokémon with her friends right behind her.

    "Meowth is miserable when it's with you." She continued, "Pokémon tend to reflect their trainer's true feelings and what I saw today at the hot springs made it very clear that Meowth has never been welcomed by any of you. All of you Xenos are the same! I bet you weren't going to even try on reuniting Meowth with its true friends!"

    "Clio!" Saul called out, stopping Ash and everyone else from responding to Clio's cruel words as he walked up slowly with the help of his cane.

    "Grandpa!" Clio gasped.

    "Clio, please explain to me what's going on here. What have you been doing all day?"

    "I caught Meowth yesterday and I wanted to learn how to be strong like Grandma was by pretending to be its Rusui for the day."

    "Rusui?" Everyone questioned as they stared at Meowth who was perfectly quiet with a blank expression.

    "I see, what's that in your hand?" He asked regarding the notecard that had the next clue.

    "Big brother left a clue in my pocket so we could do a scavenger hunt. He wanted Meowth to figure out some secret." She explained as she pulled out all the other clues from today out of her pocket.

    "This was the last clue we found." She walked up to her grandfather to show him the evidence of their long adventure.

    "Well, you won't get much from this one…it is blank." He showed them the last notecard they found.

    "WHAT!?" Clio and Meowth screamed as Saul walked over to the tower viewer.

    "Is this where you found it?" They both nodded as he placed a quarter inside to take look. "I see…just like his grandmother."

    He walked back over to his granddaughter and bent down to wipe away the old tears that have fallen before with his soft, gentle hands.

    "I see you have some scratches too." He whispered softly with love and care in his soft grey eyes.

    "I tripped Grandpa, that's all," Clio answered with tears rolling down her cheeks as she ran into her grandfather's arms as he hugged her tightly.

    "Hawlucha!"

    "Pancham, Pancham!" They both gathered around the tired feline as they cheered their praises filled with excitement and awe.

    "Pika?"

    "De?"

    "Pancham, Pan!" The Pokémon conversed with each other as they kept turning their attention to Meowth who was trying hard to ignore them, not willing to answer any questions, as it was frustrated with how things were turning out. Ash took a closer look at Meowth who had a few visible scratches on its back. Remembering the boys being chased by Hawlucha and watching the Pokémon excitedly talk amongst themselves.

    "What happened here?" Ash finally asked.

    "What is she talking about? Is that what you did all day?" He asked calmly but started to clench his fists against the ground due to Meowth refusing to answer him or even giving him the courtesy to look at him or anyone in the eye.

    "I want to thank you for humoring my granddaughter today." Saul walked up closer to Meowth. Meowth gave its full attention to Saul as it looked up at him, not sure what to make of him. Was Saul a friend or foe? How much did he know? He was an agent himself for his respective team, was this a dire situation? All these questions circulated around Meowth's head while he maintained his emotionless demeanor, trying to keep the fact from everyone that he was barely able to move due to the lack of energy while he was sitting upright.

    "You don't have to worry," as if Saul read Meowth's mind, "I have no intentions of bringing you any harm, I wish to help you. I see that you have been separated from your original caretakers, please tell me your story."

    Meowth examined the old man closely trying hard to make sense of everything before making the leap of faith to trust him.

    "All I remember" It paused to take a deep breath as its voice started to hurt, "Is waking up...in Strasboro City." Meowth finished as it managed to speak in a soft, raspy voice. Feeling more energy drain out of its body with each word that was spoken.

    "Meowth…" Ash spoke softly as he was severely concern, "You're really exhausted. What did you do all day?"

    "I see, do you remember how you got there?" Meowth lightly shook its head 'no'.

    "I see, do you remember anything before you woke up?"

    "We were sitting at a picnic table, talking…"

    "Where was this picnic table? Do you remember the scenery that surrounded you?"

    "…Uh…no."

    "Whom were you talking with?"

    "Jessie…and James…"

    "Was there someone else?"

    "I don't know…" Meowth answered sadly as if each question ripped away its soul's confidence piece by piece.

    "I see," Saul raised his hand, placing the tip of his index finger onto its koban causing a spark of light to flicker at his touch.

    "Whoa!" The bystanders exclaimed.

    "Hmm," he quickly rubbed his fingers, "I believe someone may have used hypnosis on you."

    "What?" The gang gasped.

    "You don't seem shocked by this." He said noting Meowth's calm physic.

    "This whole time I have been trying to remember, but all I got was nothing. The idea that someone used hypnosis crossed my mind, it made sense but I didn't want to believe it. I have spent countless hours training myself not to lose control like that; so I refused to accept it. But it makes sense, it truly does…it's like my mind isn't my own anymore." Meowth said forlornly looking down at the ground.

    "I see, let's continue this back at the inn, shall we?" He turned to Ash and his friends who were still processing the depressing news. "I know you wish to continue your journey to Snowbelle City, you should be able to catch the last train if you hurry."

    "I'm not leaving!" Ash shouted as the lid of his hat covered his eyes. "Meowth..." Ash spoke gently, "I'm…"

    "Leave!" Meowth interrupted spitefully as it slowly stood up onto its feet with what little energy it had left. "I told you yesterday that it was the last day I would travel with you and I meant it!" Meowth declared.

    Ash fumbled with his mixed emotions, he was truly sad for Meowth, he wanted it to know he would help, but his own resentments towards the Pokémon still continued to resurface as the scratch cat yelled its nasty rhetoric towards him and his friends. As he was holding his injured hand tightly trying to find the right words for a rebuttal as he gazed into the fiery blue irises with his hard brown eyes, he just couldn't do it as he turned away.

    "Meowth…" Serena started.

    "Let's head back to the inn, you can all decide there. Consider tonight as my payment for playing with my granddaughter." Saul spoke up as he started to head back down.

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    "I'm sorry about the last clue." Clio broke their silence as Meowth was walking beside her. Saul was leading the pack back to his inn with Ash and the gang closely in front of the duo.

    "How did you hear about Miyamoto?" Meowth stopped walking.

    Clio stopped as well as she looked at Meowth, "My Grandma told me about her. She said she ran into her a few times, I think they were friends."

    "I was wondering why because not many people know about her outside of Team Rocket. She was one of the best, however as new recruits continue to join, her memory within Team Rocket is starting to fade as well." Meowth paused, "You know...one of the humans I travel with happens to be her daughter."

    "Really?"

    "Yeah, in fact, today is actually the anniversary of when Miyamoto disappeared. Traditionally we would sit around a campfire as Jessie would tell us stories of what she remembered about her. Although, she has admitted that she's starting to have a hard time remembering what her own mother looked like." Meowth paused for a moment, "Jessie was…the first human I ever saw cry. I'm telling you this because I found it quite funny how today actually turned out. A lot of Miyamoto's missions involved her following clues it was as if she orchestrated this day herself."

    "Pika Pi." Pikachu alerted Ash of the two who were way behind now. Ash walked up to them to see what the hold up was.

    Meowth paused before speaking again, "Clio...thank you…for today."

    Meowth smiled warmly with warm sapphire eyes as the town lights gave its creamy white fur a nice glow. Clio blushed profusely, "Your…welcome."

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    The gang released their Pokémon, dinner was ready and being served as a buffet, outside by the springs. All the Pokémon were enjoying themselves. Pancham was talking enthusiastically about something as all the Pokémon listened intently, some were in disbelief but Hawlucha was there to confirm what it was saying to the nonbelievers, at least that's what it looked like to the trainers.

    "I wonder what they're talking about?" Bonnie questioned.

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    Naturally, Meowth was inside due to the steam from the hot springs was still making him feel dizzy. Meowth discovered the Nomia Inn's tearoom that was on the opposite side of the springs away from the twerps and their annoying Pokémon. It was completed with its own chabudai and zabuton in the middle of the tatami floor and big glass sliding doors of it's own leading out to a garden. Sliding the shoji closed so no one could disturb him, Meowth walked over to curl up on one of the comfy zabuton, hoping he could get his long-awaited night's rest he so desperately needed. The peaceful aura the room had to offer didn't last long because Meowth heard the sliding doors open. Before the lights turned on to brighten the darkroom, Meowth quickly got up and sat by the glass door, pretending that's where he originally was, staring out into the abyss as if he was filled with untapped vigor and not at all fatigue. The lights turned on and Meowth acted as if the lights snapped him out of his daze to see who decided to disturb him. To Meowth's dismay, it was the twerp who came in alone with a plate filled with gourmet food. Meowth couldn't read the twerp's expression, his brown eyes seemed confused, and his overly confident attitude was undertoned for an energetic boy like him. Irritated that the twerp dared to barge in on him and won't take a hint, turned his attention back onto the garden outside with the twerp's reflection clearly visible.

    Gripping the plate tightly as he watched the scratch cat Pokémon deliberately ignore his very existence in the room, walked in a little further. He was puzzled; he didn't know how he should feel. What he did know is that there was no way he was just going to leave Meowth behind all alone. Was it because he pitied its current situation? But why should he pity Meowth? Team Rocket has always created trouble for him and Pikachu in the past, isn't this what one would call karma? The voice of resentment was loud as it spoke bitterly in his mind. Meowth constantly claims it's going to rejoin Team Rocket and that everything will go back to the way they were. So what if it's a Pokémon, it knows what it does is wrong and it's willing to do it again. If Meowth wants to travel alone then so be it.

    "Why should I care?" Ash thought as he squeezed the plate even harder.

    "Let go of your anger." Saul's voice echoed causing Ash's grip to lessen. The bitterness that was burning inside of him eased up allowing him to spot the good.

    "Everything happens for a reason, right?" He thought for he truly agreed with that statement. It didn't have to but it did help him when he was paralyzed. Nellie's show was able to go on because of Meowth's special ability to talk. It also helped him win the Pokéathlon.

    "That's right," He remembered. "I don't think you ate anything at all yesterday." Ash looked up at the scratch cat who was sitting near the glass door looking out with its head leaning against it.

    "You were really tired when we found you. What kind of scavenger hunt did you do?" Ash felt a smile sneak upon his features as he thought about it. "Clio...thank you...for today." It said to her.

    "Clemont's right, you really are good at deceiving people. I want to let go of our past but I can't do it alone. Do you think we can do it together?" Ash takes a deep breath and exhales it slowly before moving forward and placing the plate onto the chabudai, then sitting down on one of the zabuton.

    "I noticed that you didn't get anything for yourself. I didn't know what you would like so I brought a little bit of everything." He spoke cheerfully, hoping to break the ice by starting a nice conversation.

    "I'm not hungry." A quiet, monotone voice responded.

    "Don't lie to me!" He slammed his fist onto the table.

    "I am positive that you haven't eaten anything at all yesterday." He whispered. "And judging by how I found you, I doubt you ate anything today as well." He spoke sternly.

    "Leave!" Meowth demanded as it turned its full attention on to him.

    "I told you that I'm not hungry, so get out! I don't need your pity! When I find Team Rocket, I'm going to make sure that you feel the wrath of Team Rocket and that you will never see any of your Pokémon ever again, especially Pikachu!" Meowth shouted viciously. Ash leaped to his feet ready to attack Meowth for even daring to make such a threat, letting his rage fill his entire being once more.

    "There you are!" Clio exclaimed, as she unknowingly disrupted an intense fight.

    "I was saving these for when we completed the scavenger hunt, but I figured now would be the best time." She carried over a small box and sat on a zabuton, opening the box to reveal brownies.

    "These are chocolate cheesecake brownies, they are beyond delicious." Meowth's attitude quickly changed as the girl sparked its curiosity.

    "Cheesecake…brownie…together? But I told you I haven't been feeling hungry." Meowth said calmly, however, the power of its sweet tooth got it to sift its way to the vacant zabuton next to her.

    "Yeah I know, I just wanted to show you. Since you're not hungry I guess I will have to eat them all by myself!" She said happily by placing the box in front of him as she started to ravenously eat hers, "Amazing they are sooo good and chocolaty!"

    Meowth watched her enjoy the desirable brownie. Examining the sweet treat before it, it slowly picked it up and took a bite to see for itself. "Wow, it is good!"

    Meowth took another bite as it continued to eat it happily. Ash fell to his knees as he watched the scene unfold in front of him; his undeniable rage was replaced with overwhelming relief as he joined them at the table.

    "You must really like sweets." He mumbled.

    "Unlike you, I was able to get it to eat something all day today," Clio stated proudly. "You will never be able to take care of Meowth, Xenos!" She said darkly.

    "What!?" Ash yelled but then looked back at Meowth who was finishing its whole brownie, "Thank you" Ash muttered.

    "However, I would like you to eat some of this too. You can't just depend on sweets like brownies and cookies." He pointed to the plate he brought in.

    "I don't care what you want! I'm not your Pokémon, I don't have to do anything you say!" Meowth barked.

    "What was that!?"

    "Ugh…Xenos, you are so hopeless!" Clio intervened. "I will be right back."

    Within seconds Clio came back with a small plate of dumplings for everyone. Meowth stared at the plate of small dumplings before it, still not feeling hungry at all. Sure it needs to eat, it knows that but its appetite has been non-existent as if it was unnatural.

    "Food is a source of energy, not a luxury," Clio stated, snapping Meowth out of its daze. "Food is a natural source of energy that shouldn't be run by emotions."

    "She's right…but I don't think it's my emotions, that's a human thing. I don't think I'm wired that way."

    "You know what, Miyamoto used to say the same thing to Jessie."

    "Really? My Grandma taught me that."

    "Who's Miyamoto?" Ash asked. The two looked at each other and then back at Ash.

    "It's classified." They answered together monotonously causing Ash to anime fall.

    "These dumplings are the best! They are stuffed with perfection and the dipping sauce is so tangy." She ate a dumpling happily. "Hm-mm, yummy!"

    Ash and Meowth watched the girl enjoy herself as she ate her dumplings.

    "Are they really that good?" Meowth looked to his plate and back at her. Meowth watched her as curiosity started to rise in its mind. "Maybe I should just take one bite, for taste."

    Meowth started to nibble on one of the dumplings, "Yummy!" He stated. Ash watched as the scratch cat started to nibble its way through its dumplings.

    "I think I get it now." He thought as he watched her approach the second time. "You're a very curious Pokémon, aren't you?"

    trtrtrtrtrtrtrtr

    Meowth woke up violently, in the middle of the night panting heavily.

    "The same dream…"

    Earlier, Meowth was dragged out of the tearoom by Ash and his friends. They tried to force the Pokémon to communicate with each other. Despite what Hawlucha and Pancham told the Pokémon, the relationship between Meowth and a few of the Pokémon was still sour while others continued their neutral stance on the matter by just ignoring its existence. Meowth had enough of the harsh manner it was receiving from some of the Pokémon, particularly from Greninja and Pikachu. The steam from the hot springs didn't bother it as much as it did before, but it was still getting dizzy from it and decided to walk back inside. However, that didn't stop it from saying a few choice words towards everyone and their Pokémon. Causing a loud uproar, Meowth slammed the door and hid for the rest of the evening. Meowth eventually found its way back into the tearoom. It was relaxing; Meowth curled itself upon a zabuton, losing control as its exhausted form allowed sleep to take control of its mind. Unfortunately, Meowth had the same reoccurring dream that caused it to wake up suddenly. Panting with a fast-beating heart, Meowth walked out to the garden that the tearoom was connected to for some fresh air.

    "I see you found our tearoom and garden." Saul entered with a tray that had an old teapot and teacups. He placed the tray on the table and walked out to the garden to join Meowth.

    "I would like to show you something." He started, "Would you please follow me?" Hesitant at first, knowing full well what this man once was and who he could be connected to, gave Meowth a great deal of concern. However, deep down he felt that he could trust the hunched over, old man in the yukata.

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    They walked through town in the middle of the night, with only the sounds of Saul's footsteps and cane filling the air. "I believe my granddaughter told you I was once an agent."

    Meowth froze, not sure what to expect next. "I was an agent for Team Solaris, they are an organization from a region not far from here. My wife, Clio's grandmother was a Rusui when I met her. I was an outsider looking in and I am quite grateful to Team Solaris for bringing us together."

    "Team Solaris?" Meowth echoed.

    "Don't worry, they are a lot like Team Oyama, they are not interested in the quarrels that other teams like to endure. Like Team Rocket, we are also allied with Team Oyama." They found themselves in the town square as the fountains and Kairos Clock Tower were lit up.

    "Kairos Clock Tower represents an opportunity at a fleeting moment. You have to know when it is the right time to take action and follow it head-on. The statue that represents the sun gives its light from the heart so we can shine on with the North Star as our everlasting guide."

    "The statue pointing is the North Star?" Meowth inquired.

    "Why don't you take a closer look?" He suggested. Meowth did just that as it walked up to the statue. The statue was pointing upwards while one hand was connected to the statue that represented the sun. The blindfold it had on was slipping, revealing its left eye and it appeared to be a compass rose.

    "I didn't notice that before!" Meowth exclaimed.

    Saul chuckled, "Open your eyes and see beyond what is in front of you." He said kindly.

    "But what about the moon?" Meowth asked, "I know that the fountains represent the phases of the moon but what about the full moon?"

    "How very observant of you Rocketeer! Follow me."

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    Saul led him to the top of the hill they were at earlier. It was pitch black with only a few lights on top of the hill. The town square's bright lights were the only thing they could make out. Saul walked over to the tower viewer and popped a quarter in.

    "See for yourself." He gestured. Meowth hopped onto the tall tower viewer to look through, seeing the lit up Kairos Clock Tower and the fountains that encircled it.

    "Look closely, do you see it?" Meowth tried to look closer trying to see what he was inquiring about…there were the fountains, the tower and…the moon…the full moon. It was a giant white circle that surrounded the tower with the fountains on the rim of it.

    "The sun shines its light, the stars guide us, and the moon protects us all…these mountains call for you." Meowth snapped its attention to Saul. "When the opportunity arises will you take it?"

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    They were back at Nomia Inn's tearoom after their philosophical night out and daybreak was threating the night away.

    "Another night without any sleep." Meowth sighed.

    "So much for our tea." Saul smiled, "It was lavermile tea with a hint of lemon, it would have helped you." He winked. "I will prepare some green tea instead. It's a good source of energy and a great way to start the day." It was as if Meowth reunited with an old friend. Saul was so honest with it about everything. He didn't have to reveal the organization he once worked for but he did, he laid everything out in the open.

    "Saul," Meowth stopped him from leaving, "Do you know where Anbero City is from here? It's where I'm supposed to find Jessie and James."

    "Why yes, it happens to be near Snowbelle City." Meowth's facial expression said it all. The idea of traveling with the twerps again was not a favorable one.

    Saul smiled warmly with soft grey eyes, "But there is another way." Meowth lit up to the idea and was about to speak up.

    "Meowth!" The twerp called out, hearing the sound of his footsteps come closer.

    "There you are! We are going to eat breakfast, you should join us." Ash walked in with Pikachu on his shoulder.

    "No!" Meowth snapped.

    "WHA…" Saul gently grabbed Ash by his free shoulder.

    "It is a new day and the garden looks lovely this morning, I will go prepare us some tea. Please feel free to eat breakfast here, where it is steam free." He winked trying to give Ash a hint as he walked out towards the inn's kitchen.

    "Does he mean the steam from the hot springs? Does the steam bother you?" He turned to see Meowth who was no longer in the room itself but outside sitting on the edge of the patio to the garden as the sun rose higher into the sky. Ash observed Meowth's back that was clearly giving the vibes of 'I want to be alone.' Ash sighed deeply as his conflicting emotions battled back and forth.

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    Ash gathered everyone to join them in the tearoom and garden for breakfast, much to Meowth's disappointment the tranquil aura of the room was officially twerpdified. It was a nice small banquet of breakfast foods and fruit laid out on a higher table. In the middle of the chabudai was the pot of green tea Saul brought out along with a basket of bread. All the humans, including Meowth and Pikachu, sat around the chabudai as Clio handed a plate of fruit to Meowth, who in turn stared at it not feeling hungry once again. It has to eat something, it knew that but there was no driving force telling it so. Was it his emotions? Could a Pokémon be wired that way? The fruits smelled sweet and juicy, the bread smelled buttery as Meowth could sense the bread was still warm from coming out of the oven. The large tearoom started to feel cramped as if the walls were closing in on it. Instead of looking at colorful fruits that it had no intention of eating, Meowth decided that going outside to the garden would be better.

    "Wait," Ash whispered causing it to stop from getting up. "Why? You keep saying you're not hungry but that can't be true. Why? Why do you keep saying that?"

    "I'm not surprised." Everyone turned to Saul stunned by his statement. "I'm guessing this has been going on since you woke up." Meowth nodded timidly.

    "Hey, I remember you saying your head hurt when you woke up." Clemont chimed in.

    "Your head was hurting?"

    "Uh…yeah for a bit, but it went away around the time I reached the pier. I kind of just past it off as a headache since I was more focused on finding Jessie and James."

    "Headache you say?" Clemont asked as his glasses covered his eyes while pulling out one of his random gadgets. "Do you get headaches often? Pokémon who get headaches…"

    "No, no that's not what I meant!" Meowth quickly stopped him, as he knew exactly where he was going with that logic.

    "What I meant was it was an ache…in my head, ha, ha." Meowth laughed nervously trying to deny what it said. Ash and the gang just glared at it with a blank expression of disbelief.

    "Ha, ha, I see." Saul chuckled at the sight. "I wanted to see your lack of appetite for myself before I gave you my full assessment and it is just as I thought. You were indeed hypnotized, but it wasn't by a Pokémon it was done by a human."

    "A human? You mean like with a machine?" Meowth questioned.

    "No, I mean that they did it themselves without the help of anything. However, whatever their goal was it seems that it was incomplete. Your lack of appetite is proof of this. You only remember a conversation with your protectors at a picnic table and nothing else. I believe that their end goal was something far more sinister. They may have been interrupted in completing the task at hand or they could have been testing out their dark powers to see how far they can go. Either way, I don't think they are done with you. They deliberately separated you and they will stop at nothing in finding you. Ideally, I think it would be best if you went back to Kanto, Kalos isn't exactly the safest place for you to be traveling alone."

    "But Meowth isn't traveling alone it's traveling with us." Clemont countered.

    "You're not an agent of Team Rocket." Meowth retorted.

    "What does that have to do with anything?" Serena inquired.

    "Everything! I'm a Pokémon for Team Rocket traveling alone through the land that is owned by Team Flare. Traveling with a bunch of twerps won't do me any good." Meowth said.

    "Team Flare doesn't own Kalos," Clemont responded.

    "Shows how much you know, you stupid twerp! You'll never understand the dynamics of the organizations that exist throughout our world!" Meowth shouted venomously as he glared furiously at the twerps.

    "There's nothing to understand!" Ash barked, "Team Rocket, Team Flare, you are all a bunch of no good crooks who do nothing but try to destroy the lives of countless of Pokémon!"

    "Calm down Ash, please," Saul spoke calmly as he took control of the situation. "This is no way to start off the day. Please, let us break our bread together and come up with a reasonable solution."

    "Well, there is no way I'm going to let you travel out there on your own." Ash declared as he stared at Meowth.

    "How Dare You!" Meowth shouted slamming the table hard with rage that could rival Ash's.

    "I don't need your sympathy so quit treating me like I am one of your good deeds for the day! You didn't give two cents about me before and now all of a sudden you want to show that you care for my wellbeing because of some mishap. How Dare You! You are all unbelievable; you act as if you are doing me a great service and that I should be utterly grateful, so grateful that I would want to leave Team Rocket. Oh, and by the way, I saw through your ridiculous ploys of using Pancham as a way to convince me. Drop the act! We are not friends, we never were friends and we'll never be friends! I am a proud member of Team Rocket and I will always be a member of Team Rocket! Nothing you do or say will ever change that, you hear me?!" The tension in the room was thicker than the loaves of bread on the table as the teapot started to crack. The Pokémon began a loud racket of growls and shouting of their own banter towards Meowth.

    "SHUT UP YOU STUPID PETS!"

    ***Smash***

    The teapot shattered into a million pieces as the aggressive tension rose to even higher levels that not even the strongest sword could cut through.

    "What a shame, that was good tea too," Saul spoke coolly as he began to wipe up the spilled tea, causing everyone to snap out of his or her anger. Meowth, however, continued to send daggers to everyone as its rage was still boiling over.

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    Everyone has called their Pokémon back to their poke balls and had their belongings packed and ready to go. All were in the lobby glaring at Meowth, preparing themselves for what they might have to do next.

    "I see you are all packed and ready to go." Saul walked in with Clio by his side.

    "Meowth, you should go with them to the train station," Saul said.

    "What?" Meowth gasped looking up at Saul confused and feeling a bit betrayed. How could he suggest such a thing? It thought Saul was its friend, it thought he understood what it was going through and where it wanted to go.

    "You are all going in the same direction, so why not? There are many paths to choose from at a train station."

    "Please Meowth, come with us." Serena pleaded.

    "Yeah, come on, a train ride will be fun," Bonnie begged. Feeling outnumbered and alone Meowth sighed in defeat.

    "Fine," it whispered crossly. "But when I find Team Rocket, I will destroy you." He said menacingly as his sharp blue eyes cut through them like daggers.

    "Why I oughta…" Ash growled furiously.

    "You don't want to be late for your train." Clio interrupted, she walked up to Meowth, holding out her hand to shake. "Thank you for the blastastic adventure, it was a lot of fun pretending to be your Rusui."

    She smiled brightly as her violet eyes sparkled with delight. Taken back by the warm gesture, Meowth's dark demeanor quickly changed into a shy, lightly blushed cat.

    "Uh…yea." It muttered not making eye contact.

    "It's kind of cute." The girls thought amusingly as the boys were taken back by the drastic change.

    Meowth gradually raised its paw to shake her hand. Sparks fluttered through Meowth's body once again when he touched her as an image of a cave appeared.

    "What?" Meowth thought as he caught his breath as the sensation left. She grabbed his paw with both hands, feeling her put something on it before letting go quickly.

    "The train station is a really cool place and it's pretty big too. Make sure you choose the right way." She winked and waved goodbye along with her Grandfather as the gang returned the gesture. Meowth followed behind, as he wanted to look at what she did by himself. He opened his paw up to see she placed a small compass rose sticker in the center of his paw. Causing him to look back at the waving duo who in return winked.

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    The walk to the train station was a quiet one. No one talked to anyone as they walked through the train station gates. The breakfast tension was still in the air between everyone as they all waited patiently for their train sitting on a bench in front of their terminal that was outside. There were some boutique stores inside the station so the girls went to go window-shopping leaving the boys and the two archenemy Pokémon alone. Clemont spotted a popcorn stand and was about to make an offer but after taking one look at Meowth who was still in angry glare mode, decided against it. Meowth was leaning against the side of the long bench as far away as it could be from the twerps not wanting to have any close proximity with them.

    Meowth closed its eyes thinking what Saul said; "Go to the train station," his voice echoed.

    **Tic-tock**

    "The clock…" Meowth opened its eyes looking around to find one, but there was none.

    **Tic-tock**

    A flash of white fur dashed in the corner of its eye, "What was that?" Just then their train was pulling up and the girls just rejoined them.

    "Snowbelle City here we come!" "Pi, Pikachu!" The twerp exclaimed joyfully. Meowth watched them in disgust as they got closer to the boarding platform, despite them having to wait for the other passengers to get off. The twerp's excitement for an upcoming battle was in full swing so of course, they stood there anxiously waiting for their chance to hop on.

    **Tic-tock**

    "There are many paths to choose from at a train station." Saul's voice echoed again.

    "Meowth," The mini twerp walked up to him, "Our train's here." She sounded cheerful and inviting. Meowth stared at her indifferently as the thoughts in its head circulated profusely. She started to walk towards the group who were all on the platform.

    **Tic-tock**

    "Meowth?" The mini twerp walked back up to it, "Come on." She beckoned. Meowth started to follow her as they both joined the rest as they all waited patiently for the passengers to exit. Meowth looked to its paw with the small sticker of the compass rose.

    "Right way?"

    **Tic-tock**

    Meowth's breathing started to get heavy as a strong sensation vibrated throughout its body. Remembering what happened last night, how it saw the compass rose on the statue's left eye and how it saw the full moon from the hilltop.

    "Climb to the top to see what is there…was that the clue?" Meowth's heart started to beat faster as the sensation got stronger.

    **Tic-tock**

    "Thank you for your patience, you may now begin to board." An announcer spoke.

    "Yes, alright!" "Pikachu!" The twerp exclaimed as they were the first ones to jump on, finding a seat that was close to the door and by a window looking out at the platform.

    "Ash and Pikachu are sure pumped." The twerpete joked as they all giggled watching their friend's eagerness get the better of him.

    **Tic-tock**

    "Let's go Meowth! Snowbelle City awaits us!" Meowth looked up at the mini twerp for a moment as the rest of them were getting on. Meowth began to move forward.

    **Tic**

    White fur dashed in the corner of its eyes again causing it to stop. Looking in the direction that would lead it to the exit of the station was a familiar white-furred Pokémon.

    **Tock**

    "Furfrou?" Meowth stared astonishingly as the poodle stared back at him. The sensation was intoxicating as his fast-beating heart and heavy breathing continued on. Furfrou started to walk down the stairs of the exit slowly as it looked back at him.

    **Tic**

    "Let's go Meowth." The mini twerp grabbed onto Meowth's paw pulling it towards the train.

    **Tock**

    "Right way…" Meowth gently slapped the mini twerp's hand off of him with the stickered paw as he stared at her blankly. Meowth was at the edge of the doorway inside the train as it stared at the twerps while the annoying twerp looked pretty angry as he started to stand up ready to take action.

    **Tic**

    "Saul said, 'go to the train station.'"

    "Will all passengers please step away from the doors and take their seats, we will be departing now." The announcer said. Meowth took one step forward inside the train.

    **Tock**

    The doors began to slide close, and Meowth jumped out fast dashing off into the direction Furfrou went.

    "MEOWTH!" He heard them scream along with the sweet sound of the doors to the train closing shut.

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    Meowth saw Furfrou at the bottom of the stairs.

    "Furfrou, is that you?" It didn't answer as it continued to run off. Meowth chased it, going as fast as he can, following it all the way to the town square where he lost sight of it completely. Catching his breath, Meowth focused his attention on what was in the center: Kairos Clock Tower.

    **Tic-tock**

    Meowth walked slowly up to it and jumped onto the pillar that was the stand for the statues. It wasn't too high of a jump, but it did earn him some questionable looks. Meowth focused his attention on the statue that was pointing upwards. He jumped up onto the statue's shoulders to get a good look at to what it was pointing at.

    "Ah…" Meowth gasped, it was pointing straight at the mountains that haunted his dreams every night.

    "These mountains call for you." Saul's voice confirmed. Up close and personal Meowth had an even closer look at the statue's face. The compass rose looked out of place like it didn't belong. Meowth reached over and sure enough, it popped off easily with a note folded on the other side of the round trinket. Feeling the uncomfortable stares growing as more people started to gather around; Meowth knew he had to save the note for later.

    **Tic-tock**

    "When the opportunity arises will you take it?" Saul's voice echoed again.

    Meowth looked up once more at the snow-covered mountaintops in the far off distance, a twinkle appeared.

    "I saw it…" He gasped.

    **Tic-tock**

    The strong sensation that had consumed his entire being up to this point seemed like it had a magic of its own. Meowth made a perfect landing as he jumped off, letting the sensation lead him towards…well, Meowth didn't really know where he was going.

    But he did know one thing…"Yes, I will take it!

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    Author notes:

    If you have ever owned a cat and maybe other pets, you would understand that animals hide their weaknesses. That is what I am doing with Meowth here. Its an exhausted wild Pokémon, the risks it faces are Pokémon related. As for the koban thing, I'm not going to dive into it too much here but lets just say it has unique power. This is one of the things I never understood why the show didn't do that for the character or for the Pokémon in general. All the other Pokémon that had something on their forehead gave them unique gifts, so I was always waiting for them to do something like that for Meowth. But alas it never came and so here it is in my story.
    Chapter 12
    Author notes:

    You know how Team Rocket always have their mechas magically appearing out of no where. That is what I will be doing with the medallion, I don't know how it hides it, it always happened it the show so that is what is happening here it just appears when it wants to.

    Nine pointed star is a symbol from the Bahá'í Faith.

    The Bouffalant terrority is based of the Col d'Izoard, it is a mountain pass in the Alps


    Chapter 12: Prepare for Flare!​

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    Meowth found its way back in Lavselle Valley, the location where the Pokéathlon was held. The field was empty with only the racetrack and the floating dock on the river. Meowth walked behind the low stands for the track to hide from any passersby so it could read the note it found with its new trinket in peace. The note was folded multiple times to form a small square taped to the back of the compass rose, unfolding it to reveal a slightly larger notecard with a lot written on it.

    Follow the flow and stay close. But beware; the flow of energy can be blocked causing it to scatter. The mountains will be high and the path will take you low, keep the sacred mountains close to your family as you listen to the voices of the stars reveal to you the secret of time. This star will…

    The paper glowed bright white as it disintegrated into ashes, taking away what knowledge it had left. "No! It was on fire dust parchment? If only I got to it sooner."

    Meowth looked at the dust that was sprinkled over its paws, "Normally I could tell it was fire dust parchment…that must have been a really high quality to have lasted this long."

    Meowth stood up ready to take action, "Follow the flow, it must have meant the river."

    Meowth walked to the river while repeating the note to itself so it won't forget. There were some humans scattered about the meadow having picnics with their significant other, but it wasn't as crowded like it was the last time he was here. The only path it saw was the one they took and that one ends up going up the hill away from the river, hence why they didn't see it till they entered this valley.

    "There has to be another way." Meowth thought as it looked around the river's edge.

    "YOOOO-HOOO!"

    Meowth froze as it heard a mysterious flirtatious voice. "My, my a lost kitten."

    Meowth slowly turned its head to see it was a very tall man in a long red coat that was closed with the help of bright gold buttons and a belt buckle of an ominous insignia. The man walked leisurely towards Meowth with a wide cheeky grin as his long white locks with a red streak in his long bangs blew in the wind. As he got closer his eyes were gold in color, matching the buttons to his coat and the emblem on his belt buckle sent shivers down Meowth's spine. The man then placed a pink peony to his lips.

    "What's a little kitten from Kanto doing all the way out here." He asked whimsically. Meowth recognized the Team Flare symbol on the man's belt buckle and knew it was in big trouble if this man found out the truth.

    "Nya, Nya?" Meowth sat normally; as it meowed tilting its head just slightly pretending it was just a normal Meowth who didn't understand. The man stared at him questionably than laughed loudly.

    "HA, HA, HA, Don't be shy. Where are those two Rockets? Shouldn't you be traveling with them?" He looked at it skeptically with his pompous filled golden eyes.

    "Nya, nya, nya, Nya." Meowth tried again hoping his nerves weren't getting the best of him as he tried to play it cute as he beckoned the man. The man bent down and got closer as he grabbed Meowth by its chin to lift its gaze so their eyes were locked onto each other.

    "Don't play games with me little Rocketeer," he hissed, "I can tell it's you just by looking into your eyes. Now let's try again, where are your friends?"

    "They…are in town." It mumbled timidly.

    "OOOOOO…I tricked ya!" He exclaimed with glee as he stood back up. "I didn't know it was you! Ha, Ha!" He laughed as Meowth froze with horror.

    "He…tricked me!?"

    "I went on a hunch and it looks like I guessed right. So why are you out here all by yourself?" He asked pretentiously.

    "Uh…we had a fight."

    "A fight you say? Oh…you poor little kitten, what was it about?"

    "Uh…it was stupid, not really important," Meowth said sheepishly.

    "Oh…but please do tell me, I Takashi would love to listen to such a lovely blue-eyed creature such as yourself." He said vainly as he brushed his pink flower across his cheeks.

    "No, I really don't want to talk about it right now. Their idiocy just makes me so mad sometimes."

    "Oh, well that's just too bad. You are such a sweet-looking Pokémon," He complemented pompously as he grabbed Meowth by the chin once again to lock eyes.

    "Those eyes of yours are certainly gorgeous, I can see myself in them just perfectly." He kissed his pink flower then he brushed it against Meowth's fur from its ear to its lips.

    "Don't be stranger to us Flares, Rocketeer." He waved goodbye flamboyantly as he headed for the town.

    Meowth exhaled deeply as it was practically holding its breath during that whole nerve-wracking confrontation.

    "Glad that's over." Meowth sighed deeply again as it placed a paw over its fast-beating heart.

    Looking up from where he left off he was trying to look for an accessible path to follow the river since the one he took with the twerps was nowhere near it because of the way of the terrain made it so. Meowth saw the floating dock where catching the discus event was held, remembering it caught a gold one that flew from behind it. On the other side was a bunch of bushes and trees but if a disc came from there then there must be a place for the humans to access that area. Looking around for a way to cross, Meowth walked up closer to the path that they took before entering in. Seeing that he was further away from the few humans that were having picnics with each other and with the water being low in this area, Meowth hopped across the rocks above the water's surface and found the hidden path among the bushes. It was a semi-dense forest along this path, Meowth saw where the path they took before started to go higher and distancing itself from the river he was following. It was so green and peaceful, hearing the natural sounds that only nature can provide. The wind blew softly against the tall trees as Meowth heard the leaves rustle combining with the sounds of the murmuring river. It was nice not having to deal with humans for a change. Looking at the compass rose, it was a limestone medallion and it was clearly very old compared to the statue it was on. It was not that big since Meowth was able to hold it with one paw.

    "Follow the flow…?" Meowth stopped in his tracks, "I'm so tired." He sighed, it was getting late and he did get a good head start. He was very far away from where he ran into that Flare and he was in a forest so it would be safe to sleep. Meowth found himself a bush to curl up underneath for good coverage, as he fell fast asleep.

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    **Tic-tock, tic-tock, tic-tock, tic-tock**


    Meowth was running through the forest as it was on fire. Running fast, not watching its step as it tumbled down the hill. After getting back onto its feet, it looked around to see where it was. Meowth saw the snow-covered mountaintops in the far east. They seemed really far away.

    "Keep the scared mountains close to your family." It heard a strange voice echoed. An orb of light came forth from the mysterious mountains, hovering close to Meowth.

    "Follow me."

    "Did you just talk?" He asked surprisingly.

    "Follow me." It repeated as it led the way.

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    (Wake up!)


    Meowth woke up quickly as he heard a shrieking voice. "Who said that?"

    (Keep moving!) He heard it again, it was dark but Meowth had good enough vision to see, but he couldn't find where the mysterious voice was coming from.

    (Get up and keep moving!) It spoke softly but with a sense of urgency, Meowth felt it was best that if a strange voice was telling him to move then he better move.

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    "OPEN THE DOORS! I NEED TO GET OFF NOW!" Ash demanded as he tried to pry open the doors.

    "Kid! Sit down!" One of the train's personnel ordered.

    "BUT I NEED TO GET OFF!" He countered.

    "Ash calm down!" Serena pleaded.

    "Stand back so they can open the doors!" The train's personnel said as he just finished his conversation on the walkie-talkie. Ash stopped acting like a crazy person and did as he was told. The very second the doors were wide enough Ash leaped out running in the same direction that darn Meowth went.

    "We're very sorry for our friend!" His friends said embarrassingly to the people on the train before running after him.

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    "STOP ASH! WAIT FOR US!" Clemont shouted. Ash stopped at the entrance of the train station to let his friends catch up.

    "Ash, maybe we should think this through." He suggested as he tried to catch his breath.

    "Think about what?!" Ash snapped unintentionally.

    "Maybe Meowth went back to Nomia Inn. It got along with Clio surprisingly well. Wouldn't that be a good thing?" Ash paused and thought about the idea.

    "That would be great, but I highly doubt that."

    "But Meowth clearly doesn't want our help. Why are you so keen on having it come with us?" Serena asked.

    "What do you mean?" Ash looked at her surprised by that question. They heard what Saul said about Meowth, how someone used hypnosis on it. It's lost and probably confused. He had to mentally slap himself in the head for thinking poorly about his friends. Of course, they all want to help, but why? Because it's in their conscience to do so? Was it really out of pity? Would he have helped Meowth if he didn't know about it being hypnotized? His strong moral compass screamed 'yes' he would help it no matter what. It was a Pokémon in need, he wouldn't turn it down just because of their past. He helped it out before with no problem, so why was it so difficult now? He thought back to Unova when they found it, it was injured and claimed it was fired. It was friendly and willing to help out, a complete opposite to what it is now. It's always cranky with a bad attitude, unwilling to do anything. It knows that he would help, it even asked for their help during the Malamar incident. So why must this situation be any different?

    "I guess it was because Jessie and James were always around, even in Unova, it never really was on its own like it is now. For me, it was because I was waiting for Team Rocket to make a grand entrance with some absurd scheme and that the whole 'I don't remember anything' was a part of the gimmick, but they never showed up."

    "Maybe I do pity it." He answered softly as he was ashamed for admitting it.

    "That's not true, Ash!" Serena exclaimed, surprising everyone as she walked up closer to place a comforting hand on his free shoulder, causing him to look at her.

    "That's not like you, you don't do things out of pity. The boy at summer camp didn't help me because he pitied me; he did it because he wanted to. You want to help Meowth for the same reasons that you helped me that day. Admit it, you wanted to search for Meowth all day yesterday even before I came back and what Saul said." Ash's chocolate-colored eyes widened with realization as he stared back at her.

    "Yeah…your right, I did," he said quietly.

    "Let's head back to Nomia Inn." She suggested, "Maybe it did go back, if not we will decide from there." She removed her hand as he continued to stare at her and smiled fondly.

    "Thank you, Serena." She nodded with a smile as a light rosy blush tinted her cheeks.

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    Retracing their steps back to Nomia Inn on the cobblestone path, they spotted a familiar pigtailed girl in her dark red sundress. She seemed to be in a hurry since she was running really fast.

    "Clio, wait up!" Bonnie shouted as they followed her. It wasn't long till they saw the reason why she was running when a Murkrow and an Axew appeared to be chasing her, followed by their trainers. They recognized them too; they were the two boys that they saw running down the hill.

    "Axew use tackle!" One ordered. The small tusk Pokémon did as it was told as it charged up and tackled the poor girl in the back causing her to lose her balance. Lying helpless on the ground as the two older boys surrounded her, they were ready to attack again.

    "Luxray! Protect Clio and use swift on their Pokémon!"

    "Pikachu, thunderbolt them!" Recalling the event of Hawlucha chasing this two down the hill, things were starting to make a little more sense. Pikachu leaped off of Ash's shoulder and thunder bolted the bullies and their Pokémon.

    "AHHHH!" They both screamed. The gang caught up and got in front of Clio to protect her as Serena and Bonnie helped her to her feet.

    "How dare you attack a little girl like that! What kind of Pokémon trainers are you?" Clemont shouted, as a big brother himself it angered him to see another girl close to his sister's age to be attacked so violently.

    "Back off!" The shorter boy demanded, "This girl's brother has caused nothing but trouble for us back home."

    "Then put it up with her brother! She shouldn't have to feel your wrath because of him." Clemont responded.

    "Where's that talking Meowth?!" The fat one ordered as he ignored Clemont's logic.

    "Talking Meowth?" The gang questioned.

    "People were talking about a Meowth hanging around the clock tower, but now it's nowhere to be found. I know it has to be the same one we saw with you yesterday. Where is it? You must be hiding it! It was wild so it doesn't belong to you, so where is it?! I want that Meowth, I have a right to capture it so tell me!"

    "You have no right to capture Meowth!" Ash shouted as if something ignited deep within him.

    "Did someone say 'talking Meowth'?" A mysterious masculine voice asked. The man seemed to have appeared out of nowhere as he walked up closer to the group in the middle of the alleyway. His eyes were covered by black shades and he was wearing a red blazer with a belt buckle that had a recognizable emblem on it. He walked passed them all, unafraid by all the glares he was receiving as he walked up to Clio.

    "Did the Pokémon in question have its protector nearby?" Clio stayed silent, she knew whom this man worked for and the two boys who have constantly terrorized her were nothing compared to what this guy could do.

    "I see, was it alone with you the whole time?"

    "Hey, you red-headed freak!" The fat boy shouted. "I saw that Pokémon first and I was asking her where it is." The man turned around to face the pathetic fool as he pushed his shades up closer to his face.

    "What a fool you are," he said coldly, "…that Meowth is far too valuable for a simpleton like you. You will never be able to catch it."

    "What? How dare you insult my brother like that! Murkrow teach this freak a lesson!" Still unmoved, the man called out his Mightyena.

    "Use double team then shadow ball." The Pokémon did as it was told by surrounding the boys and their Pokémon as each copy formed a shadow ball hitting its targets multiple times. Murkrow and Axew were knockout as their injured trainers looked on in fear. The man then moved in closer and grabbed them both by the collar.

    "Consider this your lesson not to mess with Team Flare." He said viciously. The two seemed startled by that fact, they looked at each other and quickly called back their fainted Pokémon before high tailing it out of there.

    "Did you just say Team Flare?" Ash questioned defensively. The man ignored him as he started to walk back towards Clio, but was stopped by Ash and Clemont who blocked his way.

    "Would you like to meet the same fate as those two buffoons?" He asked menacingly.

    "Tatsuooo!" A flamboyant voice sang loudly, interrupting the intense scene. The man was very tall, with a red streak in his long white hair and was dressed in a long red coat that was closed with the help of bright gold buttons with a belt buckle that had the same Team Flare symbol.

    "You wouldn't believe who I just ran into when I was in Lavselle Valley. It was that little Meowth you kept telling me about!" He exclaimed, Ash was about to make a reaction to that fact but was stopped when he felt Clio tugging at his jacket, giving him an expression of caution. Luckily, both agents had their full attention on each other and missed the interaction.

    "Were the agents nearby?" He asked sternly.

    "Not a single one, poor little thing told me they got into a fight and that they are here somewhere in town."

    "A fight? What kind of agents are they, allowing a Pokémon to walk all over them like that? Sounds like Team Rocket is becoming soft."

    "Oooo…A Pikachu!" The tall man exclaimed as he noticed the kids staring at them cautiously. He pranced over to get a closer look; unaware of the dirty looks he was receiving.

    "You must be from the Kanto region, am I right?" He asked as he looked at Ash.

    "Uh…yes, I am." Taken back by the sudden question. His golden eyes gleamed at the answer with an unreadable grin on his face.

    "That's just great! Then you must know all about those brutes in Team Rocket. You know partner," he started as he side glanced Tatsuo, "I did see that Meowth head towards Montes Jura as it crossed the river further down." He observed the kids carefully as did his partner.

    "Oooo…is that a Dedenne, how cute!" He exclaimed as he saw the little Pokémon sitting on Bonnie's shoulder.

    "If you are looking for Team Rocket, they are here." Clio broke her silence, "They are over by the art museum."

    "How do you know this?" Tatsuo asked suspiciously.

    "Because they paid me twenty bucks to be used as their messenger yesterday, it seemed that they were in a really big fight." She clarified, Tatsuo continued to eye her doubtfully before turning around to walk away.

    "Takashi let's go!" He demanded as his partner waved goodbye whimsically to the gang as he followed Tatsuo gleefully.

    They were finally out of sight and Clio was able to breathe normally again as she sighed.

    "I need to go tell Grandpa." She thought worryingly as she darted off towards the inn.

    "Wait!" Ash yelled as they all followed her.

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    "Grandpa!" She yelled as they all ran inside Nomia Inn. Saul was outside in the garden that was attached to the tearoom enjoying the fresh air and sunlight as he drank his tea at the edge of the patio.

    "Grandpa!" He heard as he turned to face his granddaughter who ran inside the tearoom followed by Ash and the gang.

    "Clio, ah…everyone, what are you all still doing here?"

    "Meowth ran away," Bonnie sadly answered.

    "I see." A slight grin appeared but it vanished quickly before anyone noticed as he got up to go inside the tearoom to join them while shutting the glass door behind him.

    "Grandpa, Team Flare agents are here and they are looking for Meowth!"

    "What?" His calm expression suddenly changed into concern.

    "Uh-huh, and one of them ran into it at Lavselle Valley, I think they know it's alone," Clio explained.

    "I see, it seems that the situation has taken an unexpected turn."

    "What's going on here?" Ash asked as he felt his anger beginning to rise. Did they give Meowth the incentive to run off? Are they hiding something?

    "You don't seem surprised at all about Meowth running off so tell me what's going on here!"

    "Calm down Ash, of course, I'm not surprised, it's wild." Saul spoke calmly, "You kids should hurry back to the train station, you don't want to miss your train again."

    "I'm not going anywhere! I want to help, but I can't do that if I don't know anything, please just tell me what's going on."

    "We all want to help," Serena spoke up with Clemont and Bonnie nodding in agreement.

    "Do you know where it could be?" Clemont asked.

    Saul walked over to one of the cabinets in the room to pull out a pen and a piece of paper to write on. He finished his message and motioned for Clio to come over.

    "Please fax this message over for me and when you are done, please make us all some tea." He instructed softly, once she was out of the room he motioned for the gang to sit down at the chabudai.

    "I noticed my granddaughter acquired new scratches, do you know what happened to her?" He asked as he sat down.

    "Yes, the boys from yesterday attacked her with their Pokémon," Clemont answered.

    "I would like to thank you all for protecting her, she's young but her past has gifted her with a harsh look on life. She wishes to become stronger due to the bullies she has encountered. As a grandparent, I am trying to teach her that gaining strength out of vengeance is a dark path with very little light." They all gathered around the table as the man continued.

    "So Team Flare has finally made their presence known. Why did you jump out of the train? Was it because of my granddaughter?"

    "No, Meowth ran off. We didn't see Clio until later and that's when Team Flare showed up." Serena explained.

    "I see, why did you follow it? Meowth doesn't belong to any of you and after observing your interactions with each other; you are far from being on friendly terms. What is the real reason you want to help?" Clio returned with the tray of tea as she sat down by her Grandfather.

    "Meowth looked confused." Bonnie broke their silence, "When I was trying to get it to join us, it looked lost like it's running off was a last-minute decision."

    "I noticed that too," Serena said.

    "Yeah, as if it was trying to piece something together," Clemont added. Ash looked down at his tea, looking back at the incident. He didn't notice anything; he was too preoccupied with getting to Snowbelle City. At that point, he had enough of Meowth's attitude and wasn't willing to put up with it anymore. What he did notice was Meowth taking forever to join them and when it was inside the train by the entrance, he was preparing to get up to drag it into the seat next to him.

    "You can see more clearly when you let go of your anger." Ash gazed up at Saul; it was as if he was reading his mind. He was ashamed of what he thought, but how can he change it? Meowth will go back to Team Rocket, it always does.

    "Ash was the first one to jump out," Serena spoke up.

    "I see, why?"

    "I know I still have my own resentments towards it but I truly want to help. I can't just ignore it."

    "Recognizing that you have those feelings is not a bad thing Ash." Saul stated, "You know they are there, now what do you want to do about it?"

    "I don't want to feel that way anymore, but how can I fix it when I know a positive outcome will most likely never happen? Every time I try to get close it shuts me out and always says something that makes me really mad."

    "I think Meowth does that on purpose." Bonnie thought out loud, causing everyone to look at her. "Well think about it, Meowth knows exactly which buttons to push to get you mad."

    "Ha, Ha," Saul chuckled, "You know you really do remind me of myself when I was your age. Don't worry Ash, it will all make sense to you one day."

    He took a sip of his tea before he continued, "You have a very warm heart, all of you do and I'm positive that Meowth sees that too. However, like you it is also confused, it has questions of its own that it's desperate to find the answers to. Meowth is familiar with the culture that organizations like Team Rocket provide their Pokémon. Now, it is lost and it doesn't know where its shield of protection that it has grown accustomed to is located, or how long it can survive without them. That's where the trouble of Team Flare showing up comes into play. Meowth is a wild Pokémon that's willing to work for Team Rocket without the use of any means of force and now it has been separated. It's just a wild Pokémon that is free for the taking by any trainer who finds it. Which is an opportunity that an organization like Team Flare wouldn't want to pass up."

    "Now that you mention it, one of them did say that Meowth was too valuable for just anyone," Clemont stated.

    "Did he now?" Saul took another sip of his tea, "What do you intend to do once you find it again?"

    Ash sunk back into his mind, he has been asking himself the same thing. Meowth's desire is to go back to Team Rocket an evil organization that steals Pokémon. It's going to go back and try to steal Pikachu and everything that they've been through will be for nothing. Saul just deemed Meowth catchable, it was always catchable but just hearing it being said from someone else awakened a new fire within him. His desire to catch and train Pokémon so he could become the world's greatest Pokémon Master was reawakened at the very thought. But would that be the right thing to do?

    "I said it before," Serena started as she observed Ash closely.

    "I think we have been approaching Meowth the wrong way, myself included. I did send Pancham out with a hidden agenda of making it feel apart of the team. While my intentions may have been good, to Meowth it was an insult. I think I'm starting to understand what it meant about how the breadcrumb isn't free. It doesn't have to be food, it could be anything. We all had high expectations of getting it to quit Team Rocket and to either join us or someone else with better intentions. Team Rocket is awful, there's no doubting that, but when we do find Meowth, what are we going to do?" She spoke softly as she squeezed her teacup with tears forming in her eyes.

    The idea of just accepting a Pokémon going back to criminals was disturbing to her, but what else can they do? Meowth constantly expresses its feelings of wanting to go back, should they ignore it and catch it anyway? Wouldn't that make them just as bad as Team Rocket? The group of friends all stared at each other. They were all thinking the same thing, what are they going to do?

    "Why can't one of you just catch it?" Bonnie broke their silence as she watched her brother and the other two mentally battle with themselves over the situation. It didn't make any sense to her, they just had to catch it then it would be over.

    "Meowth may hate it at first, but it will be thankful in the end." Ash held Pikachu tightly who was sitting in his lap; it looked up to see that Ash was heavily contemplating on the very idea.

    "Pika Pi," it spoke softly but Ash didn't hear it. He could catch it, so why not?

    "Everyone," Saul snapped them out of their daze, "You can't just solve all your problems just by sitting here. If you really want to help, rest here for the night and leave tomorrow." Just then Ash remembered the cookies from Clio that were still in his backpack. It was next to him as he grabbed it and pulled them out.

    "I still have these. I think it really likes sweets." He started to smile.

    "Really?" Serena asked cheerfully as she started to snap out of her sorrowful daze along with everyone else.

    "But why do you have them?" Clio asked slightly shocked. This Xenos still had her cookies and he was smiling about it. Looking back, Ash realized that his friends Clemont and Bonnie were correct. It was good at deceiving people and it knew exactly what to say to set him off.

    "We got into a fight that shouldn't have escalated the way it did."

    "I'm going to make some cookies!" Serena bounces up from the table, "Saul, do you think I could borrow your kitchen?"

    "Of course you can, use whatever you like. Everything is on the house consider it my payment for today." He said as he patted his granddaughter on the head with a wink. Serena smiled with delight and headed off to the kitchen.

    "I want to help." Bonnie beamed, "Clio you can help too if you want."

    "Uh…ok." She said shyly to the offer as she too followed Serena to the kitchen.

    As the girls disappeared Ash continued to stare at the bag of cookies as he remembered what Meowth said earlier that night when he thought that was his chance to make a real connection before they ended up fighting.

    "Everything happens for a reason, it's been something that I could never understand…I want to understand it…I want to believe that it's true!" Meowth's voice echoed inside his head as he stared at the bag of cookies. "Was that the real you?"

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    They didn't waste any time, as they got up at daybreak to find the missing feline. Saul and Clio packed them some breakfast items to eat on the way.

    "Thank you for yesterday," Clio mumbled with a slight blush as she handed them their packed food items. They all accepted her gratitude as Bonnie walked up to her to shake her hand.

    "We're your friends, we'll always help you." She said with a smile. Clio studied her for a moment before reaching out for her hand to shake.

    "Yeah!" She agreed with enthusiasm.

    "According to what you heard, I suggest following the path that is on the other side of the river in Lavselle Valley. The mountains are very dangerous if you don't know your way, so stick together and you will pull through. With that said if you do find Meowth, try to listen and it will do the same for you. With an open mind, you will find your answer." Saul pulled out a little packet and handed it to Ash.

    "This is for Meowth."

    "What is it?" He asked.

    "It contains herbs to help with its lost appetite."

    "Really? Thank you!" Ash exclaimed.

    "Now hurry and good luck."

    "Bye, everyone!" Clio yelled as they ran off to find Meowth.

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    Walking through the night and into daybreak, Meowth continued to follow the river as the vegetation became less dense as it walked into a clearing. The dirt path turned into pebbles as the river bank lowered to the water's level. The river, if one wants to call it that was a very low tide creek. The water kept on flowing as the scenery slowly changed from dense forest to rocky terrain. The river rocks bordered the river as the flora started to distance itself. It was the perfect spot to take a break for a drink of water.

    Resuming its journey, an adjacent river appeared connecting to the one Meowth was following.

    "Follow the flow? Well, the river I'm following is leading me away from Cularo Town. Do I keep following that one?" Observing the water closely Meowth noticed that this connecting river was flowing into the river it was following, taking that as an indication not to go that way. It came across another connecting river further up, but this one was going in the same direction as the river it was following.

    "Now what?" This new river was heading northwest and it seemed to go deep into the woods, this part of the woods wasn't dense at all. The trees were thin, tall pines and the dirt seemed to be rough and rocky with a few unique looking flowers and dry shrubs. The river created a narrow ravine as it was bordered by small hills so he would have to hike it through if he wanted to stay near the river's side. The river's flow seemed to move a little faster than the one he was following and it had more life in that direction compared to the one he was currently following. Meowth looked at the river it was currently following and this one was leading out towards a more mountainous terrain verses the forest of the large Lavselle Valley. Meowth thought that maybe following the river it started out with was the best option.

    "I took this medallion from the statue that represented the North Star, so maybe going north all the way is what I should do."

    Its surroundings soon changed from trees to rock walls as it entered into an unknown canyon. This canyon was much like Alemaca Valley, it had a few caves but the vegetation was much less as the area was rockier with only a few pine trees scattered about.

    "This area certainly makes me feel smaller." He whispered. "And being out in the open like this is kind of unsettling." Meowth stopped in its tracks, "I'm…so tired!" It whined falling face-first to the ground, turning around to lay on its back. Looking up at the sky repeating the message in its head.

    "Follow the flow, where am I going anyway? Will it take me to Anbero City?" Meowth started to listen to the calming sound of the river as some of the water splashed gently against some of the boulders that were above water level.

    "What am I doing?" Meowth got up quickly. "I can't sleep out in the open like this!"

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    It wasn't long for Meowth to start feeling like he was going the wrong way as he was walking through the bare gorge with no signs of life and the river he was following was becoming drier the further he went.

    "Maybe I should head back." Suddenly the ground started to shake as he looked up to see two stampeding Bouffalant coming from behind him.

    "GAH!" Meowth quickly got out of the way.

    "Uh…Excuse me Bouffalant." Meowth started to ask nervously. They both stopped and looked at him with intimidating glares.

    "Does the water start to pick up if I continue that way?" He pointed in the direction that they were heading for. They looked to the river and then back at him.

    "Bouffalant, Bou, Bouf?" (No, why do you ask?) One questioned.

    "Well, I was following a clue that I found on the back of this." He showed them the compass rose. One leaned in to sniff it.

    "Bouffalant, Bouf, Bouffalant?" (Are you a Pokéteer?)

    Meowth hesitated as he looked to his side. "Uh...yeah...sure. How did you know?" Meowth asked.

    "Bouf, Bouffal, Bouffalant, Ant, Bouffalant." (We are Oyateers, we work for Team Oyama and we protect these mountains along with other Oyateers.) It answered.

    "Oh, I see. I'm a Rocketeer, I work for Team Rocket and I got separated from my Rusui."

    "Bouffalant, Bouf, Bou, Bouffalant, Bouffalant." (We're sorry to hear that if you like you can join us for a safe place to rest.)

    "That sounds like a great idea, thank you," Meowth replied, as it was an answer to his prayers. "Finally, I can sleep!"

    "Bouffalant, Bouf, Bou, Bou, lant." (Very well, my brother will guide you as I run back to our post.) The Bouffalant nodded to each other and the one ran off ahead as the other stood by to walk at Meowth's pace.

    trtrtrtrtrtrtrtr

    Walking together they spotted a young man that seemed to be in his mid-20s. He was sitting on a giant boulder by the weak water supply moping as he looked at his map.

    "Bouffalant, Bouf, Bou." (We should keep moving.) Bouffalant nudged Meowth forward trying to get him to move.

    "But he has a map," Meowth whispered and to Bouffalant's disapproval, he walked towards the human.

    "Maybe I can get a closer look at it." Meowth got closer trying to take a peek over the human's shoulders without being spotted.

    "My dreams are ruined!" He cried as he started to pull out his shaggy brown hair, startling Meowth. The man turned around revealing his emerald eyes that were covered by rectangular glasses, he saw Meowth and started to cry as he used a big white handkerchief.

    "What am I going to do now? Do you have any ideas, little guy?"

    "Nya, Nya." Meowth pretended to be a normal Pokémon as it tilted its head acting as if it didn't understand.

    "Geez, what an idiot! He's almost worse than James." Meowth thought as it started to walk around him to get to the discarded map. Meowth was just about to pick it up but the man got to it first. The man looked it over again then he upsettingly crumbled it up and ripped it apart.

    "NOOO! You idiot, how could you do that!?" Meowth screamed.

    "Oh, I have others. I have to be able to let out my frustration constructively." He said professionally. He then did a double-take towards Meowth.

    "YOU TALKED?!" He exclaimed. Meowth froze realizing its mistake.

    "No, I didn't," Meowth answered nervously, repeating the same mistake. Bouffalant started to walk up threateningly as it growled at the man.

    "That is amazing! Oh, you don't know how long I've been out here. I've been all alone trying to search for the real Statue of Rina. I've found a small replica of it on one of my earlier expeditions, proving my theory that there is a larger one somewhere here in the mountains. I was following a lead but the Bouffalant chased me out. Do you think you could help and tell them that I mean no harm."

    "All alone? Wait don't you have any Pokémon with you?" He shook his head 'no.'

    "What kind of idiot travels through the mountains without any Pokémon?" The man cried like a blubbering idiot as he wiped his tears with his big white handkerchief.

    "Now you just sound like my boss!"

    "Ugh…Alright, I'll help you so stop your crying. You're giving me a headache."

    "Really! Hooray! That's great, let's go before the sun starts to set!" He said in a chipper voice as he picked up his giant backpack and skipped along the path.

    "He's a lot like James!"

    "Bouffalant, Bouffalant, Lant." (We don't allow Xenos to pass at certain points.) It said defiantly.

    "Even if the guy is an idiot without any Pokémon of his own?" Meowth whispered as the guy was ahead skipping along. The Bouffalant observed the prancing human.

    "Bouffalant, Ant, Bouf." (You will have to ask my brother.)

    trtrtrtrtrtrtrtr

    The sun was starting to set and Meowth was growing even more tired as they walked. "I was so excited that you agreed I forgot to introduce myself. My name is Dr. Pan, I'm an archeologist which means I'm…"

    "I know what that means!" Meowth snapped.

    "Oh, what's your name? Do Pokémon have names like humans?"

    "No, names are a human concept, just call me Meowth." He answered casually. It wasn't long till he heard the other Bouffalant come charging towards Dr. Pan who started to cower in fear.

    "Wait, calm down!" Meowth shouted. It saw its partner and Meowth and slowed down its pace.

    "He just wants to follow a hunch. Are there any statues out there?" The Bouffalant, walked up menacingly as it glared at the human.

    "Bouffalant, Bouffalant, Bou?" (What are you doing with a Xenos?) It demanded.

    "He just wants to see some statue," Meowth stated.

    "Bouffalant, Bouffalant, Lant, Bou."

    "It says that there are no statues here." Meowth turned his attention to Dr. Pan who was shaking like a leaf behind the other Bouffalant who was clearly annoyed.

    "Is there any drawings or markings of any kind?" He asked.

    "Bouffalant, Bouff, Bou, Bouffalant, Ant."

    "He said there may be something like that but he won't let you pass."

    "Please tell them I really mean them no harm, pleeeease, it's my life's dream." He begged on his knees. Meowth rolled its eyes at such a notion.

    "Look this guy is an idiot," Meowth explained.

    "Hey!" Pan whined.

    "He doesn't even have any Pokémon if he does do something wrong I will take full responsibility." Meowth placed its right paw over its heart reaching out with its left. The two Bouffalant looked at each other and nodded, both did the same by lifting their front right hooves to their heart and tilting their heads forward to touch Meowth's paw. Meowth turns to Dr. Pan and signals to him that he may enter.

    It was getting too dark to see anything so the Bouffalant agreed to allow Dr. Pan to stay there for the night as well. He prepared himself some dinner and offered some to Meowth.

    "I'm not hungry." It said calmly. Dr. Pan than offered some to the Bouffalant and both refused. Meowth found a big boulder to curl up on as it was beyond exhausted. The Bouffalant that guided Meowth assigned itself to stand near it as it dosed off into a deep sleep.

    trtrtrtrtrtrtrtr

    Meowth was running through the forest as it was on fire. Running fast, not watching its step as it tumbled down the hill. After getting back onto his feet, he found a new path and it was going up the side of the mountains and it seemed like it was going in the right direction. Walking up the rough narrow path as the ground became further away, the path got wider as it got higher. It soon came across a bridge that looked sort of safe. Below it was nothing but sharp rocks and Meowth saw nothing but the surrounding walls of multiple mountain peaks. The path on the other side seemed to head down. Something else caught its attention; it smelled smoke.


    "The fire!?" Meowth thought as it decided to walk across. The rickety sound of the swaying bridge was troubling as Meowth held tightly to the rope that held it together as he walked across the planks of wood, some of which were rotted. The smoke got thicker as an orange hue started to glow. It was coming from behind him, Meowth turned around to see it was the fire from before and it was headed for the bridge as if it had a mind of its own. It started to take an odd shape as dark auras glowed around it forming into something indescribable. Meowth ran for the other side, but slipped through one of the planks that broke, causing him to almost fall off. Meowth quickly got up and continued to run but the fire's new shape threw what looked like to be razor leaves to cut through the ropes causing the bridge to swing fast to the other side and slammed Meowth hard into the wall.

    trtrtrtrtrtrtrtr

    Meowth gasped as he woke up violently. "It was all a dream? It felt so real." He rubbed his shoulder as his body continued to shake.

    "Bouffalant?"

    "I'm okay," Meowth answered the Bouffalant that stood near him. Meowth jumped off of the boulder to get away from the Pokémon and the sleeping human so it could have a moment to itself.

    "Why do I keep having these dreams?" It thought to itself, "I don't know how much more I can take. I want to be able to sleep! Hypnosis? Is it the reason too?" Meowth felt the tears strolling down its cheeks.

    "I don't have a normal appetite and I can't sleep at all. What is wrong with me? Are these dreams even my own?" Meowth stopped walking as its tears fell. Meowth pulled out the compass rose and held it close. Meowth collapsed to his knees as he held the star close crying for the rest of the night.

    trtrtrtrtrtrtrtr

    "Ah…nothing like a good rest!" Pan spoke gleefully.

    "Huh, where's that little Meowth?" He noticed Meowth was not on the boulder it fell asleep on last night.

    "I'm right here," Meowth said in a melancholy tone. "And don't call me little!" He snapped tiredly.

    "Great! You're still here! Time to discover our history!" He cheered. After Pan ate some breakfast, they walked around the rocky terrain as mountain peaks surrounded them. One of the Bouffalant led them to a pillar. The pillar was made out of limestone with writings on it.

    "Ah…its a memorial!" He said excitedly as he took out a notepad to write down all his notes. He got closer to touch it and dusted off some samples to study later.

    "These symbols, they look like stars."

    "What?" Meowth questioned curiously as he got closer to look at it as well. All of them were nine-pointed stars, but all were uniquely different. Meowth looked around the pillar and saw the star that was meant to represent the North Star and it was depicted as the compass rose. Meowth took out its medallion to compare the two.

    "This is amazing it's a memorial to the stars…hey, what's that?" Pan noticed the medallion.

    "It's nothing." Meowth tried to hide it.

    "Oh pleeease let me see it." He begged playfully.

    "There's nothing to see."

    "Oh, pretty please let me see it."

    "Are you almost done here I would like to get going," Meowth spoke nonchalantly as it tried to change the subject.

    "Oh, yeah I guess so. Is there anything else like this around?" He asked.

    "Bou."

    "No." Meowth translated.

    trtrtrtrtrtrtrtr

    The Bouffalant led them both to the exit of their territory. One even asked if Meowth needed a guide.

    "That's ok, I just have to keep going straight, right?" The Bouffalant nodded.

    "Bouffalant, Bouf, Lant, Ant, Bouff?" (Do you know what it means to be Pokéteer?) The one that guided him asked.

    "Huh?"

    "Bouffalant, Bouf, Lant, Ant, Bouff?" (What does it mean to you?)

    "Uh…" Meowth wasn't sure how to answer.

    "Bouffalant, Bouf, Lant, Ant, Bouff, Ant, Lant, Bouff, Bouf, Bo, Bo, Bouffalant." (You're still young but think about it while you are on your journey. It will be long and it will be difficult, just remember what you are. Be firm like a mountain in the wind and look to the sun, it will shine its light onto you as the stars will guide you.)

    The Bouffalant nodded to each other and headed back to their posts as Meowth and Dr. Pan watched them disappear.

    trtrtrtrtrtrtrtr

    They reached the point where the other river connected. Meowth stopped walking beside Dr. Pan and started to head in that direction.

    "Hey, where are you going?" Pan asked.

    "I have to follow this river. Our journey together ends here." It said calmly.

    "Oh, but there are other areas here in the mountains, I was hoping we could do it together." He stated sadly.

    "I honestly don't care. Just continue following that river all the way down to reach Cularo Town. There are trainers there, I'm sure someone there will help you." Meowth said in a monotone voice.

    "You've been so helpful. I know, I could go with you. It would be more fun."

    "No thank you, I want to do it on my own."

    "But why?"

    "Because," Meowth looked up at him with sad eyes but were soon filled with determination.

    "…It's something that I have to do." Dr. Pan was taken back by the sudden change in the small Pokémon's behavior. Sadden by the thought that they had to go their separate ways, but couldn't hide his love for the unknown that glimmered within his emerald eyes.

    "Alright, thank you so much for your help. I really appreciated it." He said kindly and with that, he started to walk off in the direction that Meowth recommended as he waved goodbye. Meowth watched him leave for a moment before taking off on its own journey once again. The hills weren't high to climb, but the ravine created a good distance that made the fall unfavorable. Meowth marched forward the uphill path while keeping the river in its sights. This area of the woods was very open and not as dense. There were tall trees and bushes at the edge of the cliff as the ground it was walking on was covered by fallen leaves, small rocks, and dirt, making it hard to walk through while trying to go unnoticed by the wild Pokémon who lived there. But stealth was in Meowth's nature it was easy for it to walk through without making a sound.

    It was the late afternoon, judging by the position of the sun and Meowth was exhausted as it hiked through the wooded hills. "I'm so tired, maybe I should just give up. I don't even know where I'm going. I feel like I'm just lost in the woods with nowhere to go."

    "What does it mean to you?" Meowth remembered what the Bouffalant said, "I don't get it."

    The rustling of leaves was heard not far from it as it heard the sound of someone coming towards it, and fast.

    "Nnnneighhh!" A Rapidash came flying as it leaped over Meowth and started to run in a circle around it before stopping. This Rapidash wasn't alone, it had a rider who was not someone Meowth wanted to see right now.

    "Hiiii!" Takashi smiled as he waved.

    "Oh no, Team Flare!" Meowth thought in shock.

    "Where are your friends?" He asked cheerfully.

    "They're uh…" Meowth tried to come up with an answer nervously.

    "Oh my, you look lost. No worries your prince has arrived!" He said pompously.

    "Oh no, I'm…not lost."

    "Are you sure, the forest is a dreadful place for a beautiful Pokémon like yourself to be all alone in." He spoke flamboyantly.

    "No, it's okay, we got into a really big fight so I just want to be on my own right now," Meowth said trying hard to sound reassuring. Takashi jumped off of his fire horse and walked up to Meowth with an unreadable smirk as his warm golden eyes gave Meowth the chills.

    He bent down to Meowth's level, "I insist come with me and I will take you back to your friends in Cularo Town."

    "And I insist that I want to stay here." Meowth felt its temper rising, despite the fact the danger it was in.

    "TAKASHI!" Someone shouted. To Meowth's horror, it was another Team Flare member. The man was slender with a very serious aura, compared to Takashi's flashy nature. He wore the usual Team Flare red blazer outfit with solid red hair and shades covering his eyes.

    "Stop fooling around." He walked up to the pair and glared at Meowth through his shades.

    "Rocket! Where are your teammates?" He demanded in a harsh tone, that frightened Meowth.

    "They are in Cularo Town." It answered sheepishly.

    "Where in Cularo Town? We were there all day yesterday and saw no sign of them."

    "They are probably near the museum."

    "Probably? You mean you don't know. Why are you out here alone?"

    "I had a fight with them so I wanted to get away for a bit to cool off."

    "A fight? That's ridiculous! No matter the reason a Pokéteer should never leave their Rusui sides when in foreign territory. You are coming with us and you are going to lead us to them. That's an order!" He said harshly.

    "Tatsuo!" Takashi sneered.

    "That's no way to treat our guest!" Tatsuo ignored his partner as he stepped even closer to Meowth who was motionless trying to hide how frightened it actually was.

    "Is there a problem? Could you be lying to me?" He questioned menacingly. "Because if you are," He chuckled sinisterly, "…you know what comes next, right?" He grinned.

    "Uh…yeah." It whispered so softly it was barely audible.

    "I have to get out of here! But how?" Meowth's heart was beating fast as it was trying hard to stay calm.

    "You know partner," Takashi started in a dark tone as he grabbed Meowth by the chin to look into its eyes.

    "I think it's lying." He pulled out his pink peony to kiss it as he stared deeply into Meowth's eyes. "I would love to add you to my collection of lovely Pokémon." He said flirtatiously.

    "That won't happen, you know it would go to the boss." Tatsuo corrected. Meowth was still; keeping a blank stare as it shivered at the ideas they were throwing about like it wasn't even there. Meowth acted fast as it scratched Takashi hard in the face.

    "Owww! My face! My beautiful face!" He screamed. Meowth than combined its flash with a double team to encircle the two and the Rapidash and blinded them in all different directions. The light faded and the two saw that Meowth was gone.

    "Mightyena!" Tatsuo called out his Pokémon. "Find that Meowth, NOW!"

    "Liepard!" Takashi called out in tears. "You help find that little kitten for your daddy too!" The big Pokémon were on the hunt with their trainers following right behind as they rode Rapidash together.

    Meowth bit his arm to combat the dizziness as he was running as fast as he could not knowing where he was heading, just that he knew he had to keep following the river. He heard the howls of the two larger Pokémon and the galloping of the other as they all were on his tail.

    "I need to get out of here! JESSIE! JAMES! If you are out there, help me! Please! Help Me!" Meowth didn't see where he was going as he tripped over a large root from a tree, causing him to tumble down the hill. Rolling away fast down the hill not able to stop, he collided with something hard on the ground. Leaves and debris fell off the small cliff covering Meowth completely as he blacked out.

    trtrtrtrtrtrtrtr

    All-day yesterday they had no luck. It has almost been an entire day and again Ash and the gang still saw no sign of Meowth even with the help of his Pokémon.

    "How much longer?" Bonnie whined.

    "I don't know," Clemont answered tiredly. A familiar shaggy brown-haired man was walking towards them with a map blocking his view.

    "Dr. Pan?" Clemont questioned. The man in question looked up and beamed.

    "My heroes!" He exclaimed, "You are the heroes who saved my statue in Strasboro City! What are you kids doing out here?"

    "We are looking for a Meowth," Ash stated.

    "A Meowth? Can it talk?"

    "Uh…yes, it ran off, have you seen it?"

    "Yes, I have!" He shouted gleefully, "So that amazing Pokémon belongs to you, but how did you get separated? Oh no, it must have been looking for you but it's now going the wrong way!"

    "What?"

    "It said it was following the river and it was going northwest deep into the forest. There's nothing out there, so it made me curious." He said as he showed them his map. "It's just a bunch of small hills and a dense forest that's on the outskirts of the mountain range in that direction."

    "Following the river? Noivern, Hawlucha, Talonflame, I choose you!" Ash shouted. "We got a new lead, Meowth is following the river! Ash ordered.

    "Why would Meowth follow the river, we were told it splits all the time," Serena questioned.

    "Dr. Pan, is there another way, is there a way where we can stop Meowth from going further?" Ash spoke with urgency.

    Pan looked at his map, "There might be a path down that way," he pointed behind them, "It would go west and deep into the forest then we can go north. It will get hilly but if we hurry we might catch up to it in time."

    "Everyone lets go!" Ash ordered.

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    (Stay down!)


    Meowth was still covered in the leaves that protected him as he was coming to.

    (Stay down!)

    It heard the voice say. It was dark. The Flares and their Pokémon didn't find him, he couldn't see, hear or smell them as the leaves covered him.

    (Stay still! And don't make a sound!)

    The soft voice spoke again. Meowth did as it was told as its heart started to beat faster as its nerves got the best of it.

    (Be calm! They are not here anymore! You will move once the first ray of the sun appears, get some sleep.)

    "Easier said than done." Meowth was tired after using more energy than needed earlier. Meowth calmed down, as it trusted the mysterious voice. Succumbing to the comfort of sleep as it hid in the leaves.

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    It was in a valley that was in the lowest part of the mountains and was bear of any form of plant life as the limestone rocks and dirt made the ground. The surrounding mountain peaks were jagged, blocked its view of anything that could be near with the exception of a small opening between the rock walls revealing the snow-covered mountain tops in the far east.


    **Tic-tock, tic-tock, tic-tock, tic-tock**

    Multiple compass stars started to surround it, all around the barren valley. "Voices of the stars..."

    "Follow me." The light said as it led it to a cave. Meowth became hesitant to follow, knowing full well that the shadow figure may show up any minute. Feeling a warm light behind it, it turned around to be blinded by the sun that was high in the sky.

    "The sun gives its light from the heart so we can shine on." Saul's voice echoed.

    **Tic-tock, tic-tock, tic-tock, tic-tock**

    "Follow me." The light said from deep within the cave.

    "…The secret of time?" Meowth questioned.

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    Meowth slowly opened his eyes. He got up out of the leaves and saw the first ray of sunlight making its appearance.

    "Follow the river?" Meowth listened closely for the sound of the river and started to walk towards it.

    **Thud**

    A large sound hit the ground, Meowth was scared to see who it was as it turned to face a large Noivern staring at it. It took a few seconds for him to catch the scent of human and recognize that it was the twerp's Noivern.

    "Oh, no what are you doing here?" Meowth whined. Noivern got closer and sniffed his face, Noivern expanded its wings out and it looked like it was ready to send out a boom burst as a signal to the others.

    "STOP!" Meowth shouted, stopping Noivern, "Please pretend you didn't see me. You don't want me around anyway." It begged plea fully.

    Noivern observed Meowth before returning to what it originally wanted to do. It flew up and grabbed a peach that was in a tree nearby. It came back down and handed it over.

    "Noivern, No, Vern, Noi, No, No, Noivern?" (I found you last night; Ash was still asleep so I stayed.)

    Meowth was surprised by the gesture as he looked at the peach before him; Meowth was deep in thought as the sun was rising further up into the sky. Noivern leaned in closer, snapping Meowth out of his daze.

    "Noivern, No, Vern." (You can eat it; it's a good piece of fruit.) Noivern started to listen for the sounds of Ash and his friends waking up who were very far away.

    "Noivern, Noivern, No, No, Vern." (They are far away but we should start heading back to Ash.)

    "I'm not going back!" Meowth declared softly.

    "Talonflame!"

    "Hawlucha!" The two bird Pokémon flew in fast surrounding Meowth.

    "Hawlucha, Haw, Haw, Lucha, Ha, Hawlucha!" (I had enough of your childish behavior! We had to postpone going to the gym again because of you!) Hawlucha shouted with anger as it grabbed Meowth by his arm with a clawed hand.

    "Talonflame, Flame, Talon." (I'm going to go get Ash and the others.) It said as it prepared to take off.

    "No, wait! Please don't!" Meowth whined, "Please…just let me go." Meowth mumbled, "Please…you don't even want me around, you don't have to follow through with what the twerp tells you. Just pretend you didn't find me. Please…I have to go." Meowth wasn't willing to look at them as tears threatened to fall.

    "Talon?" (Have too?)

    Hawlucha tightened its grip, not willing to let go. "Please…I won't be there to get in the way of your gym battle if you let me go. Please…let's go our separate ways so we can return to what we used to be."

    Hawlucha tightened his grip to those last words even harder as he stared at the trembling feline. Meowth had its back towards him but he knew why as he smelled its tears. "I have to follow the river. I have to…please…let me go!"

    "Haw?" ("Have too?") It thought to itself, but why? Hawlucha loosened its grip slowly letting go of the sad Pokémon, surprising everyone.

    "Ha!" (Go!) It demanded. Meowth didn't hesitate as he took off.

    "Talon, Flame, Talon?" (Why did you do that?) Talonflame asked. Hawlucha didn't answer as it refused to watch the scratch cat disappear.

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    The kids and Dr. Pan were starting to wake up, ready to start again as the sun began to rise. The Pokémon came back with no signs of the missing scratch cat Pokémon the night before. The three Pokeémon seemed to have disappeared when they were packing their tents away. They pulled out what they had left from Saul and Clio for breakfast, hoping that today will be the day.

    "Here you go, Ash." Serena handed him a croissant.

    "Thank you, Serena." He said kindly as she blushed in return.

    "Dr. Pan," he started as he stared at his breakfast. "You were with Meowth the other night in the area with the Bouffalant and for the rest of that day up until yesterday afternoon. Did it eat anything when it was with you?"

    "Now that you mention it, it didn't. It said it wasn't hungry." He said calmly as he happily accepted the food that was offered.

    "Meowth didn't really eat anything at breakfast when we were all with Saul. How far can Meowth go if it continues on like this?" Clemont questioned worryingly.

    "I don't know." Ash stated as he squeezed his croissant, "We can't stop here, we have to keep going. Dr. Pan, how far are we from reaching the point to start heading north."

    "Talonflame!" "Noivern!" "Hawlucha!" Ash's Pokémon flew back and landed in front of them.

    "Did you guys find Meowth?" They looked at each other and were silent. Pikachu jumped off of Ash's shoulder and ran up to talk to them. The Pokémon had their own conversation as they nodded, pointed and did other things, but none of it made any sense to the humans as they watched the Pokémon converse. Pikachu ran back up to Ash and started to talk to him by making impressions of Meowth.

    "What are you saying Pikachu?" Ash confusingly asked.

    "This is where Meowth would come in handy." Bonnie said.

    "They found Meowth?" Pikachu nodded, Ash got excited as did everyone else.

    "So where is it? Why didn't Hawlucha or any of you just bring it back here?" He asked, slightly disappointed and confused. Pikachu and the other Pokémon started to look sad.

    "Does Meowth not want to be found?" Serena asked. The Pokémon nodded sadly.

    "Doesn't want to be found? But I…" Noivern flapped its wings to get Ash's attention as it started to make the notion to hop on. Ash's spirits were lifted as he smiled while Hawlucha and Talonflame flew on ahead.

    "Think you can handle all of us?" Ash asked.

    "Noivern!"

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    Meowth reached the side of the river again; due to the tumble, it brought him closer to the water's edge so he wasn't as high up this part of the way. Remembering the Flares, Meowth decided to play it safe as he walked where the trees and bushes would serve as camouflage. The terrain started to feel that it was moving downwards as his surroundings were getting higher. He was still able to travel by the bank of the water as a new ravine started to take shape. It was dark with the sunlight reflecting off of the black water. The roots of the trees from above dangled as he walked within the shadows the ravine walls provided.

    "Hooowwwlll!" Meowth heard a loud howl coming from a Mightyena causing Meowth to flinch. Where was it coming from? It was coming from directly above him, as it heard footsteps.

    Meowth looked around and up ahead there was a small opening in the wall that was blocked by a big black boulder. Meowth didn't hesitate as he quickly dashed over and curled up inside hoping they will pass. It felt like a few hours have passed and Meowth was shaking with fear hoping they had left, but to his dismay, he heard something jump onto the ground walking towards him.

    ***Thump-thump***

    His heart started to beat fast as he heard the sound of the gravel move.

    (It's alright they're gone now.)

    He heard a soft voice; Meowth slowly got up and walked away from the safety of the cave. To Meowth's surprise, it was a Baltoy. It floated closer with the use of its telekinesis.

    (I was sent to help you; I am a Pokéteer like you.) It said softly in a childlike voice by using telepathy.

    "Who sent you?" He asked.

    (A friend, you two actually already met. I am here to help protect you from the Flares.)

    "Oh, do you happen to know if the flow of the river will lead me to Anbero City?"

    (That all depends on you, you must trust the path you are taking. I am only here to protect, not to be your guide.)

    "Oh," Meowth said sadly as it looked at the compass rose it acquired a couple of days ago. Baltoy then presented it with a sitrus berry.

    (Eat this it will give you the energy that you lack.) Meowth looked at it questionably, it was feeling the effects of not eating for a few days and it knew that this berry would help for the time being. Without arguing Meowth said thank you and ate the berry quickly.

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    The two Pokémon walked together in silence, the river they followed became wider as the terrain started to go lower. The shelter of the ravine soon ended as the wall erosions disappeared, creating open space. The forest was denser here, but it didn't feel safe enough knowing the danger that was out there. The dark green trees swayed with the wind as the sun shined onto the dark water as they walked on the soft dirt path. On the other side of the river, the forest was just as thick with rock walls from the mountains starting to get higher as the hills on their side made the bank narrower to walk on. They came to a ledge due to a waterfall and it was a pretty big drop for a small Pokémon.

    "Now what?" Meowth asked, suddenly Meowth started to float off the ground.

    "Huh? Hey!" It was Baltoy using telekinesis taking both of them down to the ground. Once they reached the ground safely, Baltoy released its hold on Meowth.

    "Thanks." The terrain stayed the same with the dark mossy green forest becoming thicker as the mountain's side on the other side of the river started to get lower indicating that there may be another gorge where the river might split off again. The denseness of the forest served as a great protector, only realizing this now as they entered a small grassy field that took them out into the open. The river once again splits off, the new river was wide as it headed through a very wide ravine, as the density of the forest seemed to continue down that path with rocky mountaintops that could be seen in the distance as they looked down the river. It was going to lead them deeper into the mountains, so obviously the protection of the forest was not going to last long going that way. The one they were following would continue by going west keeping them in this part of the forest and it seemed like the safer option.

    "Another block?" Meowth whined, "Which way should I choose? The flow of the water is the same for both."

    (That is all up to you. Just trust the path you are taking.)

    "But I don't even know where it's going to take me." Meowth collapsed as its body gave out due to everything.

    "Where am I going? Do you even know?" Meowth started to cry, "I can't take this anymore! Where are Jessie and James? Where is Team Rocket? I can't do this by myself?" Meowth whined hysterically as tears fell.

    "I'm lost! I don't know where I am or why I'm even here!"

    (Stop your crying and focus! You can do this, you are a Pokéteer. Everything in life happens for a reason, so stop fighting it and listen!)

    "But I don't understand! Who am I supposed to listen too?" It continued to cry.

    (The sun, the stars, the moon, and your heart. Listen to what they are telling you. They are guiding you; do you honestly think your dreams and what happens, in reality, are all coincidences? Open your eyes and see beyond what's in front of you. You are Pokéteer for Team Rocket so quit acting like someone's pet!) Baltoy monotonously scolded, causing Meowth to stop its whimpering.

    (What does it mean to be a Pokéteer? What does it mean to you?) Meowth took out the medallion and held it tightly with both paws.

    Follow the flow and stay close. But beware; the flow of energy can be blocked causing it to scatter. The mountains will be high and the path will take you low, keep the scared mountains close to your family as you listen to the voices of the stars reveal to you the secret of time.

    Meowth mumbled as it recited the words, over and over again.

    "MEOWTH!" Familiar voices shouted as it saw the shadows of two familiar flying Pokémon hovering around them.

    (What are you Rocket? Can you truly call yourself a Pokéteer or are you someone's pet?) Meowth quickly wiped away any essence of its tears as the new arrivals closed in on them. Meowth hid the medallion once more as it kept its head down as the sounds of giant Pokémon landed on the ground followed by the footsteps of humans. Meowth tensed up, it didn't want to deal with them but here they were.

    "Now what?"

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    Author notes:

    The Bouffalant terrority is based of the Col d'Izoard, it is a mountain pass in the Alps
    Chapter 13
    Author notes:

    He may have been already but Ash may come off a little out of character more so in these next few chapters, I know he is more head strong and normally wouldn't back down so easily, but I'm hoping that the situation that I have put these characters in makes sense why they act the way they do and that this would be their natural reaction. Meowth is already way out of character but head injuries do that to you, so I think its safe to let that slide.


    Chapter 13: The Amazing Forest!​

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    They were flying low due to the added weight as they followed Talonflame and Hawlucha. It wasn't long till they started circling up ahead. They flew in closer as they saw a white-furred being on the ground near an unidentified Pokémon.

    "MEOWTH! They all shouted. Noivern landed as they all hopped off onto the small grassy field. As Dr. Pan got off of Noivern he couldn't help but notice his unique surroundings, he took off his backpack, pulled out all of his maps and sat down on the ground as he became entranced by his own hypothesizes.

    "Meowth, there you are!" Ash yelled as everyone else ran towards it. They discovered that the unidentified Pokémon that they saw from above was a Baltoy who was staring intently at the down casted Pokémon. The Baltoy looked-up as its gaze followed Ash's movements, watching him as he knelt down beside Meowth. Did it lose its balance? Something was not right. Pikachu got off of his shoulder to get a closer look at to what Meowth was holding.

    "Meowth," Ash said calmly, Meowth stayed silent as it tried to stay calm. Why were they here? Meowth was hunched over with its head down, trying to hide the medallion as one paw was on the ground squeezing the grass as its claws dug deep into the dirt while listening to the footsteps of the humans gathering around it. Deep down he knew it was a long shot for the twerp's Pokémon to actually follow through and act as if they didn't see him, but he was hoping that their dislike for him was strong enough that they would. He was hoping that they were spiteful enough to leave him lost in the forest. Maybe they were being spiteful. Maybe leading the twerps to him was an act of spite.

    "Are you okay?" Ash spoke softly.

    "Dr. Pan told me what you did for him. I'm really proud of you." He continued to speak calmly, hoping he could break the silence. However, Meowth didn't move nor acknowledge his presence. Ash tried to see if he could get some eye contact by looking at it from different angles, but to no avail, he sighed.

    "Come on Meowth, you can talk to me. You can tell me what's wrong." Is the silent treatment due to not wanting to be found? Did it really want to be on its own?

    (What will you do?) Baltoy broke the deafening silence, startling everyone with its rare ability.

    "Did that Baltoy just talk? Cool!" Bonnie exclaimed.

    "It must be using telepathy," Clemont stated.

    Meowth lifted its head to stare at Baltoy with melancholy eyes. It was nothing but silence for everyone as the Pokémon both turned their attention to the rivers. The clouds passed slowly in the distance, the mountain range stretched out for miles as the one river made its way through the gorge. Meowth squeezed the medallion even closer to his chest as if he was aiming to place it inside his own heart.

    "Pi, Pikachu?" Pikachu got closer as it sniffed the object in Meowth's paw causing Ash to finally notice it.

    "What's that you're holding?" Ash reached out to touch it but was pushed away forcibly.

    "Hey!" "Pika!" He shouted. Meowth got up slowly and faced the river that was heading towards the mountains.

    "That way." It whispered as it started to walk away but Ash quickly grabbed Meowth by the arm.

    "If you think I'm just going to let you go after searching for you the past few days then think again! You are coming with us and that's final!" Meowth turned and fury swiped Ash in the face. "OOOOWWWWW!"

    "I don't have to go anywhere with you!" Meowth shouted viciously.

    "Pika…CHUUUU!" Pikachu attacked Meowth with a thunderbolt but missed as Baltoy used telekinesis on Meowth to help it avoid the attack.

    "Please, can't we work something out?" Serena stepped in trying to add a voice of reason.

    "Forget it! I'm not going back with you! I'm not one of your pets!" Meowth declared. Ash was angry and had enough of this disobedient Pokémon. He pulled out an empty Poké Ball ready to finish this once in for all.

    "Oh, yeah well I think it's high time we change that!" Baltoy jumped in front of Meowth and used rapid spin on Ash knocking the Poké Ball out of his hand then continued to attack Ash. "AHHHH!"

    "It protected Meowth again!" Clemont exclaimed. Baltoy stepped away as Ash's Pokémon surrounded the two offending Pokémon readying their attacks.

    (There's nothing for you humans to gain here, it would be best if you leave now.) Baltoy said calmly.

    "I'm not going anywhere!" Ash clarified. Meowth's legs gave out as it lost its balance due to feeling dizzy. Meowth tried to cover its clumsiness by acting like it just wanted to sit down as if that was its original intention, unfortunately for Meowth, it didn't go unnoticed.

    "Everyone stand down," Ash demanded as he walked up to the weak Pokémon. Baltoy stepped in front of him growling, warning him not to get any closer.

    "I just want to help." He said frustratingly.

    (Your help is not needed.) It stated casually.

    "Why don't we all just sit down and talk it over some lunch?" Serena added.

    "If you find Meowth, try to listen and it will do the same…with an open mind, you will find your answer. Like you, it is also confused, it has questions of its own that it is desperate to find the answers to." Saul's voice echoed as Ash walked up closer to Meowth, despite the glare he was receiving from Baltoy. Pikachu got in front of Ash ready to defend him, as did the rest of his Pokémon who stayed on their guard.

    "Meowth…" He began.

    "This is incredible! This river doesn't show up on any of the maps!" Dr. Pan exclaimed excitedly as he was clearly not able to read the situation. He was surrounded by all of his spread out maps as he continued.

    "It's a good thing you had your Noivern because I don't think we would have ever found Meowth. Even the landscape we flew over was different than what the map said it would be, no wonder people always get lost here." He packed up all of his maps and placed his backpack on his shoulders. Dr. Pan then ran up to Meowth, unaware of the tension.

    "Meowth, where are you going exactly? Do you know what's out there?" Meowth glared at him, as he was just another human getting in his way. Meowth slowly rose up to get back onto his feet.

    "The real Statue of Rina could be out there this way!" He exclaimed chirpily. "Meowth, I will accompany you on your journey following this river!"

    "WHAT?!"

    "This river looks like it could go on for miles. It's practically uncharted territory, come on it will be fun exploring it together!"

    "FORGET IT! You can't just invite yourself like that! Just who do you think you are?!"

    "Following the river?" Ash mumbled as his friends walked up to him.

    "Maybe it has something to do with what Saul said," Serena suggested, as they watched the scratch cat who was clearly annoyed while watching the grown man who started to cry like a baby. Baltoy than tapped Meowth on its shoulder for its attention, pointing it towards the boulders that they could use to cross the river that they were currently following since the river Meowth wanted to follow connected on the other side.

    "Hawlucha!" Hawlucha saw through their plans and stopped them by blocking their way with its wingspan spread out.

    "Are you kidding me?! I can't stay here, I have to keep moving!" It shouted.

    "Haw, Hawlucha!" Hawlucha barked back at the angry feline, as Talonflame and Noivern followed suit surrounding the two Pokémon, as Pikachu stood in the middle threating to thunderbolt them if they made another move. Meowth glared at them, but it then looked on ahead past Hawlucha. Dark green trees of the dense forest surrounded the river as rocky mountain tops were in the far off distance meaning that this path was probably going to take them deeper into the mountains once they exit the forest. Ash studied the expression that the scratch cat held. How it's expression changed from anger to vacant, losing its focus on the current situation as it stared at the river. Ash began to realize that Meowth has been acting like that a lot as it traveled with them.

    "What's going on in that head of yours?" Meowth returned to face the begging fool that was Dr. Pan. Ash watched as its eyes looked troubled as if it was trying to solve its own resolve. It was in a blink of an eye, but Ash thought that he might have seen something inside those two sapphire irises sparkle.

    "Should I let it go?" Something sharp pinched his heart at the idea as he watched Hawlucha blocking Meowth from getting away as the others surrounded it along with Baltoy.

    "Ash!" Dr. Pan cried as he ran up to him, clasping Ash's hands into his own.

    "I could really use your help. I thought it was looking for you when we ran into each other. When I parted ways with Meowth, the look in its eyes were so mesmerizing, it was so determined to go on its own. As an archeologist, it's my job to discover and to solve the mysteries of our world. Since you're a Pokémon trainer, why don't you come with me?"

    "WHAT?!" Meowth screamed.

    "I don't have any Pokémon of my own and finding the real Statue of Rina has been a life long dream of mine. All of my research has led me to these mountains. I know it has to be out there somewhere." He continued as they both ignored the disapproving antics from the scratch cat.

    "It was actually Meowth's idea when we first parted ways. It told me to head into town to find some experienced trainers that could help me with my search within the mountains. That's how I bumped into you, you're a skilled trainer and you helped me out before. It's the perfect solution."

    "Yeah, but I didn't mean them! You're not coming with me, so just leave!" Meowth shouted. Ash stared into Dr. Pan's emerald eyes that held the strong desire to follow Meowth. Personally, he would prefer to go to his gym battle that was only a train ride away but...

    Ash then shifted his attention on to the scratch cat in question. Meowth was throwing daggers for eyes as it glared at him, and it clearly didn't want him or anyone to come along. But where was Meowth going? Did it just ditch them to search for Jessie and James on its own? Meowth didn't want him to find it? None of it was making any sense. Ash released himself from Dr. Pan's grasp as he stepped away from him. Their eyes were locked onto each other for the first time. Brown eyes that were filled with anger, concern and even doubt.

    "I want to help you." he thought hoping it would reach it as Meowth's eyes were still filled with aggravation as if it knew what the outcome was going to be.

    "What do you think everyone?" Ash asked his friends without breaking eye contact.

    "I'm with you all the way Ash!" Serena stated.

    "Exploring uncharted territory would be exciting and we can't just leave Dr. Pan out here all by himself," Clemont added as Bonnie nodded in agreement. Ash walked up to Hawlucha who was blocking the boulders that would lead them across.

    "Would you guys be okay with postponing Snowbelle City for a little while longer?" Hawlucha was a little disappointed but pleased with the situation. Noivern and Talonflame nodded in agreement as they were fine either way. Pikachu however while not surprised how things were turning out just couldn't help but glare at the scratch cat Pokémon for once again holding them back. It didn't need its partners in crime to be a big pain, it was quite capable of doing it all on its own. Ash returned his gaze onto Meowth, but it was not in its original spot. It has already started to hop across with Baltoy while he and his Pokémon were preoccupied with each other.

    "Oh no, you don't!" Ash yelled as he followed suit, but failed miserably on his own so his Pokémon came to his rescue so he wouldn't fall into the raging rapids. The Pokémon helped the others across as Meowth and Baltoy ignored them and tried to keep going but were stopped by Ash and Pikachu by blocking their path. Ash's hard glare softens as he knelt down to the scratch cat's level. Meowth glared at the twerp, irritated by the constant interference. He wasn't even doing anything with Jessie and James and yet this twerp till manages to find ways to ruin everything.

    "I understand Dr. Pan's dream. He wants to find the statue he has been looking for all his life. He needs our help and it would be a nice thing to do." Ash explained calmly, "I want to be able to understand you too. I don't know what it is that you're up to, but Dr. Pan wants to follow you and…so do I." He said confidently.

    "In the past, we were always able to put our differences aside when it really mattered. Do you think we can try again?" He asked sincerely as he smiled slightly, taking Meowth off guard not knowing how to respond. He was right; they have always worked together when the situation really called for it. So what made this time so different? Meowth gazed into the twerp's brown eyes, he really did want to help and Meowth knew deep down that the twerp always meant well. That's just the kind of human he is. He is not a bad human. He is someone who would go out of his way for any Pokémon no matter how tough the situation might be. But there was something else in his eyes, a feeling he was giving off.

    "It can't be…" It thought as it looked deep into the chocolate eyes that belonged to the Pokémon trainer in question. Meowth dismissed the idea thinking that the vibe it was feeling was just its imagination, but still, the possibility was unsettling.

    "I want to," Ash started as he looked away with his hat covering his eyes, "…I want to have our deal back." He mumbled.

    "What?" Meowth gasped softly.

    (If you happen to be going in the same direction as us that is fine.) Baltoy answered, cutting into their conversation. (But that does not give you permission to interfere with our objectives.) Baltoy then turned to Meowth.

    (I must say, you puzzle me Rocket. Has Team Rocket gone soft? Or is it just you? I am here to help you because like you, I am also a Pokéteer for my own team. As a Pokéteer you should know better than to let down your guard. I'm starting to think you don't understand the gravity of your situation. Do you even understand the importance of your role?) Baltoy didn't yell, it was calm but the emotionless criticism was harsh. Meowth looked at Baltoy as if it was slightly ashamed of itself. Baltoy floated passed Ash and his Pokémon with its back turned to everyone.

    (You are a Pokéteer for Team Rocket. You're a vital asset to your team, just one misstep could lead you to your demise.) Meowth observed the clay doll Pokémon with a melancholy expression.

    "My demise?" Meowth mumbled as Ash caught a glimpse of fear within Meowth. It looked away as it stared at the river, he watched it return to its expressionless mask as it looked back at Baltoy. Ash gritted his teeth as he turned away. He got up as he glared at the Baltoy but couldn't hold his grudge for long. Why would it say such things? He couldn't comprehend it as Baltoy looked back at Meowth.

    (The path you take is up to you. If you are really one of us then you must follow it with everything you got.) Ash tried hard to read Meowth's emotionless expression, it looked away turning its attention to the river again and sighed heavily, before catching up to Baltoy who was heading into the forest that was bordering the river.

    "Pika Pi?" Pikachu jumped onto Ash's shoulder snapping him out of his daze.

    "Pikachu," Ash said solemnly as Pikachu nuzzled his cheek as he scratched the side of Pikachu's head. He then turned to his other Pokémon, "Thank you, everyone, for all your hard work." He then started to call each one of them back to their poke balls as Pikachu sat happily on his shoulder.

    "Thank you Hawlucha," Ash said as he called Hawlucha back to its Poké Ball. He stared at the Poké Ball for a minute before finally putting it away.

    "Ash?" Serena questioned.

    "It's nothing." He answered as he turned and started to follow the duo that had him so puzzled.

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    "This is amazing!" Dr. Pan exclaimed as he was drawing a whole new map for himself as they walked through the forest.

    "Why must we travel through the forest like this?" Bonnie whined, "Why not by the river bank? It would be much easier."

    "I agree." Serena concurred. "AH…" she tripped on something.

    "Careful," Ash said as he caught her by the hand.

    "Ttthank…you Ash." She stuttered as a blush began to form due to his smile. The forest was thick with thorny bushes; it was muddy and hard to travel through with very little to no paths to walk on for the humans.

    "It's not so bad." Dr. Pan said excitedly as he continued to sketch the newly discovered surroundings.

    "No one is forcing you to travel through the forest," Meowth spoke irritably.

    "There's no way I'm letting you out of my sight," Ash warned.

    "Why are you traveling through the forest anyway?" Clemont asked.

    "Team Flare," Meowth answered casually.

    "Team Flare!?" They gasped.

    "I ran into them yesterday and they are not easy to fool, especially that Tatsuo guy, he's one of those humans that truly mean business. I was hoping they would believe me that Team Rocket was in town, unfortunately, they are both smarter then they appear to be and figured it out right away that I was traveling alone."

    "Then it's a good thing that we found you. Now you're not traveling alone anymore." Serena confirmed. Baltoy stopped and turned to look at the twerps while Dr. Pan was still busy gawking at the sites.

    (Good you say? It's no thanks to you that they now have an idea on our location.) Baltoy scolded, (Much like the mountains, this forest is large, it's hard to find anything here unless you know where to look. Luckily for them, there were three flying Pokémon hovering in a particular spot. Anyone with a working brain would consider that a good place to start if one was on the hunt for something.) Meowth had his arms folded across his chest as he nodded in agreement.

    "But what was I supposed to do? How else was I going to find you?" Ash asked defensively.

    "You were supposed to go to Snowbelle City, for your next gym badge," Meowth stated crossly as it glared at them. Ash took a step back as he observed Meowtth's cold expression. The truth was becoming clear and it was unsettling. It didn't want to be found.

    "Why," Ash solemnly began.

    "This forest seems like it could go on for miles!" Dr. Pan exclaimed, oblivious to the conversation taking place.

    "Baltoy was it?" He started as he knelt down to its level, "I'm an archeologist by trade, and my job is to discover our history. Are there any unique markings or carvings around here? Could you pleeeease show them to me?" He begged innocently with Lillipup eyes.

    "He's worse than James!" Meowth thought as he watched in disgust. Baltoy was unmoved and ignored his request by continuing its journey.

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    It was quiet for the most part between them, with the exception of Dr. Pan who acted like a child lost in a candy store. Ash suddenly heard his stomach growl, "That's right we didn't eat much of anything."

    "We can take a small break." Dr. Pan suggested, "We did have one heck of a morning, there's plenty of time."

    "Meowth! Baltoy! Does that sound good to you?" Bonnie asked the two Pokémon who somehow managed to get behind them; Meowth was impassive as its ears were twitching.

    (You humans do what you like. I want to keep moving.)

    "Yeah, I want to keep moving too." Meowth nodded in agreement.

    "But you can't keep going on like this," Clemont said worryingly. "Did you have anything to eat today?"

    "I don't have to report myself to you." It said snidely, Ash stomped his foot in front of the feline as he stared at it crossly. Baltoy looked at Meowth before floating past the blockade. Meowth tried to follow suit but was blocked by Ash.

    "You can't dictate what I can or cannot do," Meowth spoke in a monotone voice. "I have to keep moving."

    "Because of Team Flare?" Clemont questioned.

    (They are far away but are still on the move. The forest is thick enough to protect us from them, but not for long. As long as they are moving we should too.)

    "Can you hear them, Meowth?" Ash asked.

    (The Flares are out of range for the Rocket to be able to hear them; I, on the other hand, am able to sense them through the vibrations of the earth, which has no limitations.)

    "Then what are you listening to?" Noting Meowth's ears were slightly twitching.

    "Huh?" Meowth returned its attention back onto the twerps.

    "Geez, you're always spacing out." Ash said frustratingly, "I was asking what you were listening too. If it's not Team Flare then what is it?"

    "Oh…I…uh…nothing." Uncomfortable with the question that was being asked Meowth quickly shifted its gaze to Baltoy. Seeing an opening between the twerp's legs, it darted in between them to get to its traveling companion's side. Ash tried to stop it but failed as he looked at the escaped feline frustratingly.

    "Wait!" Ash cried, "You don't have to worry about Team Flare. We will fight to protect you. You know that we are here for you, right?" He pleaded as he hoped that something will reach it.

    Meowth could hear the grave concern within his voice as everyone looked on with apprehension clearly in their eyes. Meowth couldn't think of a reasonable answer for them. He felt so tired, a break sounded nice but Baltoy would not approve as he turned to it. It held a vacant expression as it stared back at him, waiting for him. He turned to the twerps but couldn't look at them for long as he tried to think of a reasonable answer.

    "I..." the twerp spoke up again. "I have never seen you like this before; I don't think I ever saw you so determined about anything. I do understand because I'm like that too when it comes to facing tough opponents. I don't ever want to give up until I completed my goal of becoming the very best. Overcoming obstacles is one thing but what you are doing is unsafe. I know you haven't eaten anything so please sit down with us and let's take a break together." Ash spoke clearly filled with genuine solicitude.

    Meowth looked at the twerps and Dr. Idiot then turned his attention to Baltoy, hoping that it will say something to them. He couldn't say anything, he could tell them everything but they wouldn't believe him. A simple answer is all they really needed, but he didn't have one. All he knew was that he didn't want to stay in this forest, not just because of the threat of Team Flare but also the uneasiness the forest gave him. While it was safe, it felt unsafe as unfamiliar sounds filled his ears. He wanted to get so far away from this place that it would be impossible for the Flares to follow him.

    (We must keep moving.) Baltoy said as Meowth smiled inwardly.

    "But aren't you hungry too? We would share with you." The mini twerp said innocently enough but didn't realize the fire she just ignited. Serena then remembered what she had in her bag and quickly pulled out a bag of cookies.

    "I made these for you with Bonnie and Clio's help. We call them 'truce' cookies. Their white chocolate chip with macadamia nuts. Why don't you share them with your friend." She showed him the colorful plastic bag tied with a white ribbon as she walked up closer to it with Bonnie right by her side.

    "'Truce cookies?'" He reiterated as he tilted his head slightly with a blank expression, causing the girls to blush.

    "Cute." They thought. A small snicker escaped him as a slight smile began to take form.

    (How dare you! We are not your mindless pets!) Baltoy puffed as it watched the scene unfold in front of it, causing Meowth's small smile to quickly vanish.

    "Pika!" "De, De!" The Pokémon yelled heatedly as Meowth watched Baltoy calmly.

    "Just what is your problem with us!?" "Pika!" Ash demanded.

    (The smallest bread crumb maybe free but eating it could entrap you forever. A Pokéteer is wise enough not to accept such simple offerings. You act as if you have the purest intentions for us Pokémon when in actuality you have hidden agendas, the same dark motives that match the cruelest of agents in any organization. The only difference is, is that you refuse to admit your selfish motives whereas an agent wears them on their sleeves.)

    "How is a peace offering selfish?" Serena asked insulted by the accusation.

    "But we made these cookies especially for you. Clio helped us too, won't you at least try some?" Bonnie spoke with tears starting to form as the situation was becoming too much for the girl. Meowth paused, as it was stunned by the sudden emotion that this little twerp expressed so freely. The trees swayed with the wind as Baltoy looked around.

    Meowth tensed up slightly as it looked down, "I have to keep moving." It mumbled as its ears continued to twitch.

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    It was nothing but silence between the two parties. The gang decided to not take their break after all. Instead, they were persistent in traveling with two Pokémon who always managed to walk behind them. Baltoy was adamant about not accepting anything from them or conversing with them for that matter. Meowth remained silent as he didn't want to take part in any of it. He was more focused on walking and not succumbing to passing out as his eyelids felt heavier. As a wild Pokémon Meowth understood Baltoy's reasons very well but it also understood the need to work together as a team. That's what the twerps really want. They wear their emotions on their sleeves and are not as cunning as Baltoy believes. They are great when it comes to battles, but as for lies or tricks not so much. However, no matter how Meowth looked at it the facts can't be changed. He will rejoin Team Rocket and everything will go back to the way they were before. It's better this way in the long run.

    (For someone who was once Giovanni's favorite, you are a disappointment.) Baltoy whispered softly, Meowth stopped in his tracks.

    "If you're going to give me an earful, the least you could do is be honest with me and tell me the team you're working for." Meowth shot back. As a seasoned Pokéteer Baltoy had expectations that Meowth was not meeting and it was clear that Baltoy was irritated by Meowth's inexperience and lack of willpower.

    (I'm a Solateer, I work for Team Solaris. Most of my missions include working with Team Oyama. Our teams have worked closely together for years, it's not uncommon for us to share missions or to do tasks for one another. Team Oyama and Team Rocket used to work together like that too, but from what I understand your alliance has dwindled over the past few years. Do you know why?)

    "I didn't know that. All I know is that Team Oyama has bases throughout the world and are neutral when it comes to the relations between the other organizations. The last time I worked with someone in Team Oyama was in the Kanto region."

    (Team Rocket has created a lot of chaos by invading other lands; it's becoming rather unfavorable among the other organizations. It actually has come to the point where it's getting harder for Team Oyama to turn a blind eye to all the destruction that Giovanni has caused in the name of Team Rocket.) Meowth looked at Baltoy questionably, not sure where it was getting at.

    (I'm just stating the facts; the truth is I have seen you before back when you were "Top Cat.") Meowth felt a twinge of nervousness.

    (I was on a mission in the Kanto region when I saw you in one of the training rooms at the Team Rocket Headquarters. The unmatched confidence that you had as you faced your adversaries was amazing for a beginner. I wasn't surprised to find out later that you were Giovanni's favorite, the "Top Cat" of the Rocketeers. Agents from Team Solaris and Team Oyama would always come back with stories about your triumphs in the Kanto region; you were unstoppable, uncatchable and unwavering. When I found out that you were no longer in the top ranks, it was like you disappeared. I later discovered that you were doing lesser missions and acting as a traveling companion with your Rusui. I didn't want to believe it, you had so much great potential, and I didn't want to believe that a Pokéteer would lower themselves to such low depths as you have. A true Pokéteer would be strong, courageous and filled with wisdom beyond its years, not some feeble weakling that's indecisive like you are now.) Baltoy's childlike voice was monotonous as it spoke. Its criticisms were harsh and Meowth was slightly hurt by it but decided not to instigate it as he was too tired and wasn't in the mood to argue. It felt like Baltoy was his only ally, it felt risky to fight back and deep down he felt that it was right. He is weak however he is satisfied with the way things are. At least that's what he keeps telling himself, ignoring the ache in his heart with that thought in mind.

    "A lot has changed since those days," Meowth mumbled.

    Baltoy sighed, (Everything happens for a reason.) It whispered. (If you don't mind, I would like to show you something.)

    "Hey what's the hold-up?" The twerp asked as he walked up to them with Pikachu on his shoulder, who was still glaring at them.

    "Do you want to take a break?" He asked hopefully. Meowth was too preoccupied with its conversation that it didn't realize how far behind they were from the twerps.

    (Let's go this way.) It pointed in the direction that would take them deeper into the forest and away from the river.

    (If we pick up the pace we should be able to reach it before the sun starts to set.) Meowth wasn't sure why, but it felt like he had to follow it. Maybe if he followed Baltoy he will regain his confidence and will be able to resume his journey with pride. Maybe then he will be able to understand.

    "That's ridiculous, I'm not going to let you keep going until then." Ash's stomach started to growl as he and his friends didn't eat anything yet. "I'm really hungry and traveling on an empty stomach is hard." He said.

    "That's not surprising since you twerps have the luxury to eat every five minutes." Meowth retorted.

    "Let's take a break and then we can go that way." He tried to sound calm as he did his best to ignore that snide remark, not wanting to let his anger get the best of him as he felt his reasons were fair.

    (Go on and take your break human. Rocket, let's go.) Baltoy countered as it turned and started to float in the desired direction as Meowth darted off to follow it. Ash glared at the duo as his friends came up behind him.

    "And here we thought that Team Rocket was a problem." Bonnie commented.

    "Ouuuu, the mysteries here are intoxicating!" Dr. Pan startled them as he exclaimed his excitement from behind.

    "Come on let's go, everyone!" He said cheerfully as he bounced off happily in the same direction.

    "Dr. Pan sure is something," Serena muttered as everyone nodded in agreement.

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    Despite the fact of not feeling hungry, Meowth couldn't deny it; he was feeling the effects of not eating for the past few days. He was also very tired, the sitrus berry that he ate before helped him keep a steady pace but that was starting to wear off as he felt the weight of his own body grow heavy with each step becoming more painful to his aching paws. He wanted to stop, he wanted to take a break but he knew that would be unwise with Team Flare hot on his trail. They had to keep moving even if that meant all night as well and whining about it was going to get him nowhere with Baltoy. The clay doll Pokémon was no pushover, if he started to whine again, Baltoy might not want to help him anymore.

    "Top Cat?" What would the "Top Cat" Meowth do if it were in this situation? Meowth paused in his own thoughts for a moment. He hasn't really thought about the past or what he was like before chasing the twerp and his Pikachu around the world. Meowth wasn't one to live in the past, it wasn't an ideal concept since most of his memories were painful to relive and felt better if they were just locked away deep inside his own heart. Living in the moment is more preferable, he is happier in the present whereas the past can't be changed. But what would the "Top Cat" do? Would the "Top Cat" understand what is happening?

    (Don't worry.) Baltoy broke through his thoughts, (Since you're here, you should at least see it. You can decide the rest from there.)

    Meowth sighed inwardly; he wasn't sure where Baltoy was taking him. This wasn't exactly the time or place to dawdle and explore at random. The threat of capture was in the air as the presence of the Flares shook him to the core.

    "But I will have to decide. Decide? I'm not very good at that. Where am I going? What is the next step?" The forest got thicker the further away they got from the river. Vines, branches, thorn bushes, and other hindrances that the forest had to offer made the trip harder for them as they forced their way through. The trees were growing taller, creating a canopy above them with only strands of sunlight piercing through the leaves as the trees limited their view of the sky. Eventually, the trees started to spread out letting in a little more evening sunlight through, but the rough flora stayed strong. Suddenly Meowth's breathing became heavy as he stopped dead in his tracks. Baltoy turned to observe Meowth.

    "Amazing." Dr. Pan whispered.

    Meowth saw layers upon layers of limestone that were further ahead. They looked like stairs, very old stairs covered in leaves and moss. Nature has reclaimed what was built here. Everyone walked a little closer as Meowth felt as if he was being sucked in.

    "The air is different here." It thought. They were standing in a small clearing; the trees were slightly spread out as the group stood on the patches of grass that were provided by the forest floor. To their sides near the edges of the clearing seemed to be some architectural leftovers. They seemed like they were arches of some kind, as to only one of them kept its original shape while the others were crumbled pillars or just plain rubble. The stonework was cracked and barely holding together on the last remaining arch as the vines and other forms of plant life were the only reason holding it together. The stairs were also old and in shambles with limestone flooring at the bottom. The floor was cracked and there wasn't much left. What was remaining was by the stairs and in the center of this large architectural phenomenon. At the center of it all was a round boulder that was larger than average. Everywhere else was nothing but bushes, some wildflowers, and other plant life. Due to the way the land was reforming around this manmade creation, it was fair to say it may have been even bigger when it was in its prime.

    "Amazing." Dr. Pan whispered again as he walked up to the last remaining arch. He placed his hand delicately onto the sandy brownstone. "This looks like its been here over hundreds of years." He said as he pulled out a camera.

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    ***Ring, Ring***

    The sound of a wind chime caught Meowth's attention; it started to walk closer to the stairs. The air was so thick here as Meowth's breathing became heavier as it unconsciously placed one paw onto the first row. Meowth felt like it may have heard someone calling out its name but it wasn't sure as the only clear sound was that of crushing leaves as its paw touched the first stair.

    ***Ring, Ring***

    The sound of the wind chime rang again. He looked up as a vision flashed before his eyes; the area was engulfed by a warm yellow-orange glow as the curia was restored to its original form and the floor was solid limestone once more. The curia had some openings so one could enter the court while still encircling a large amethyst that was in the center. There was no roof and the forest wasn't dense at all compared to the way it was now. The ravine walls that bordered the forest were much lower almost non-existent as Meowth saw the vast mountain range stretching out endlessly. The seating area was low with only about 4-6 rows of limestone in the form of bleachers, giving him the ability to see there were more arches surrounding the curia on the outside. The arches stood tall in the grassy field as wildflowers grew freely.

    ***Ring, Ring***

    Meowth moved up another row, facing the arch that was facing east. Looking through the arch he saw the mountains stretching endlessly in this direction. A tiny flash appeared as he saw the snow-capped mountain tops that were so far away that it would be impossible to get there in a short amount of time.

    ***Ring, Ring***

    (Can you hear them? Are you listening to them?) Meowth turned around to face Baltoy as its shadow casts over Meowth with the sun setting behind it.

    ***Ring, Ring***

    ***Snap, Snap***

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    The sound of a camera caused Meowth to catch its breath as it blinked away the vision and losing its balance in the process. He fell onto his back, hitting his head at the bottom of the stair-like seating area.

    "Ow…" It whimpered as it rubbed its head, Meowth then looked at its surroundings wildly as it noticed that the once grand open-air curia was nothing more than a section of seating, one remaining arch and at the center, a round boulder as everything else was destroyed while the few remains were being reclaimed by the forest. Meowth stood up quickly only to be clouded with dizziness and fell back down, landing on its knees and slouched over as one paw held its head.

    "I shouldn't have done that." A sharp pain suddenly entered its body as if it were being electrocuted internally. It was unbearable, Meowth couldn't move as it clenched the fur over its fast-beating heart. Within seconds Ash and company were by its side. Ash didn't hesitate as he rushed to its side not allowing Baltoy to get in his way this time as he reached to pick Meowth up but was batted away softly as Meowth had little to no strength left.

    "Do…n't" It huffed as it continued to look down. Feeling rejection in a moment like this, a moment that felt like pride shouldn't be in the way, Ash dropped to his knees as he stayed close to its side.

    "Please, we should stop now, you should stop now." He whispered, hoping his words will reach it this time. Pikachu jumped off of his should and got in front of Meowth as Dedenne jumped away from Bonnie and joined them on its other side. The two electric type mice observed their so-called foe worryingly, as it was in dire distress.

    "Pi, Pikachu, Pika Pi, Pikachuuu." It was unhappy with the current predicament that this feline dragged them into, but Pikachu never saw Meowth in this state before, it was scary, it was scary for everyone.

    "De, De." Dedenne tried to make eye contact with the scratch cat Pokémon but to no avail, as it kept its eyes shut. Meowth slowly moved its paw to its forehead.

    "Everything is spinning, I feel like my whole body might explode. What is this feeling? It feels so heavy that I can't move." Meowth was trying to calm itself down as the strong sensation felt like it was vibrating throughout its entire body.

    "You're…you're trembling," Ash mumbled at the unforeseen sight.

    (You didn't pass out; I'm truly impressed by your durability. I guess what they say about a Rocketeer's perseverance is true. A tamed Pokémon would have simply blacked out but as a Pokéteer we are trained to endure the toughest of circumstances and despite what may have happened in the past you are still capable of withstanding anything that comes your way. It's only natural that your body would start crashing after that encounter, you have been lethargic for quite some time now, the fact that you kept moving this long is commendable for any true Pokéteer. Team Rocket should be proud to have a Rocketeer like you.) It said causally.

    "Enough…" Ash breathed, "Enough…" He said a little louder, "Enough!" He shouted, "How could anyone be proud of this?" He demanded upsettingly, "Did you do all of this on purpose just to see if Meowth was up to your sick twisted standards of being a Pokéteer? If this is what it truly means then why do you allow yourself to be destroyed like this? You're a Pokémon yourself, can't you see that this is wrong?"

    (You're wrong, the training we receive is not to destroy us but to strengthen us. A Pokéteer is a free Pokémon that will do any task without the use of forced capture; it's a viable asset to any team. We gain security and care while still maintaining our independence. If we weren't capable of enduring the toughest of trials then working for a team while running wild would be a meaningless effort on the organization's part. A Pokéteer has to be tough and vigilant at all times. From other teams to random trainers, one false step could lead to the end of our careers.)

    "Then let's end it here and now." He stated forcefully as he turned his attention back onto Meowth who was still hunched over panting and trembling as one paw was on its head as the other was wrapped across its abdomen squeezing its sides.

    "Meowth, you can walk away from all of this. You can join me, we…we can keep our little deal." Meowth opened his eyes slightly, Meowth could barely make it out where everyone was as his vision caused him to see triple. It was too hard to keep focus so he closed his eyes once again.

    (I wanted to bring you here for a reason.) Baltoy spoke up monotonously, (Sleeping for the night would be out of the question especially under these conditions. This will be a safe place to rest so I am willing to make a compromise with you, but just this once. With that said when tomorrow comes, you humans must part ways from us. The Rocket may have a tolerance for your kind but I don't. You are only hindering the Rocket with your constant interference.)

    "There's no way I'm leaving!" Ash shouted.

    "That goes for all of us!" Serena added.

    Baltoy ignored them as it stared at Meowth who was still having trouble. (How you go about your journey depends all on you. If you can't handle a little separation from your team then quit. If you can't handle surviving on your own then quit. If you can't handle the unforeseen struggles that await you then quit. But if you want to keep going, if you want to understand then get up. Get up and act like the Rocketeer you truly are.)

    Baltoy's words cut deep into Meowth's soul as he forced himself to regain control over his body as the sensation started to lessen its hold but was still too overwhelming to bear. Like a toddler, Meowth placed both front paws on the ground and slowly forced itself to stand up on its feet. The humans and Pokémon gasped at the miraculous sight, how could it keep going on like this? It was too agonizing for them to watch and yet it was also mesmerizing. Its heavy breathing ceased, as its head remained lowered, placing a paw over its closed eyes as if it was giving itself a mental push. It lowered its paw to its side, lifted its head to face Baltoy while opening its down casted ghostly dark blue eyes halfway. Baltoy was actually going to let him rest but he knew it was going to come with a big price. Acknowledging one's durability was not exactly a compliment amongst Pokéteers. It was expected to be able to endure hardships. Anything less then he would have been a captured Pokémon long ago.

    "Why…why bother helping me if the organizations we work for are not even allies?" It spoke softly in a raspy voice. The overwhelming sensation that vibrated its entire body made it hard to keep its composer.

    "There's really nothing for you to gain from helping me and you're clearly disappointed that I'm not what you thought I was. Did you have high hopes in seeing if you could somehow revive the "Top Cat"? If so then stop wasting your time on me, the Top Cat you heard so much about is gone. If that disturbs you then leave. I don't really care what you think of me and I have no intention of proving anything to anyone. If I must I can do the rest on my own." Its voice sounded tired but the words it spoke were filled with untapped confidence that was buried deep inside it. Confidence to give it all the strength it needed to continue on fighting whatever that would come its way. Meowth then turned to face Ash and his friends along with the silent Dr. Pan.

    "That goes double for you twerps. I am not some charity case that needs your help. We are not friends and we never were friends, you act as if you always cared about my well being when we all know that was never the case." It paused to take a deep breath.

    "The very minute you twerps uttered your first annoying question was the moment I should have stolen a Pokémon from you right then and there. If I had done that, we wouldn't even be talking right now, now would we?!" Meowth shouted as its rage built up with every single word filled with venom and bitterness towards the pestering twerps. A far cry from the independent, filled with astonishing confidence that it had while talking to Baltoy. Meowth took another deep breath and exhaled, satisfied with what it had to say. It turned around and started to slowly walk away towards Baltoy as its pace was unsteady.

    Ash instinctively reached out to grab its arm but stopped abruptly as if it were an unconscious reflex still trying to reach out in some way. He didn't know what to say, none of them did. He was beyond furious. But how could he respond? Normally, he would have lost control and lash out, but this was different, Meowth was different. The conflicts in their past together were too great that a chance to come together as friends or possibly partners seemed like light-years away, an idea that was too implausible to even fathom.

    "When tomorrow does come, we will be going our separate ways." It demanded harshly not even giving them the decency of looking at them as it had its back turned against them. Ash clenched his teeth and fists as his body trembled due to the burning rage and empathy that were battling it out within him. His eyes were covered by the shadow of the lid of his hat as he looked down to the ground.

    "Fine," his anger answered for him in a soft whisper. His friends looked at him sympathetically, they were at a loss for words too but were also growing bitter due to the constant defiance that they always received from the scratch cat Pokémon. Dr. Pan who is just an outsider to the ordeal, observed the scene unfold before him as a quiet spectator.

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    It was nothing but dead silence as the sun disappeared. It was unspoken but the two parties silently split the area amongst themselves with the kids along with their Pokémon and Dr. Pan sitting around a fire underneath the arch while Baltoy and Meowth sat on one of the remaining rows of the curia with their backs turned to each other. Handing over his Pokémon their meals, Ash looked over towards the area that looked like stairs to him. It was hard to see anything without a flashlight, so knowing if Meowth was still there was hard to confirm. However, some of the Pokémon such as Greninja gave the indication that it was in fact still there with their clear aggravated expressions.

    "Here you go Hawlucha." It was staring intently in the direction of the Pokémon in question, it snapped its attention to Ash and happily accepted its meal. Ash then looked back in that direction, Meowth hasn't eaten anything and he wanted to at least help it in that sense. However, his anger and frustration were getting the better of him, not to mention Baltoy already put a stop to that. Nothing was going the way he thought it would. Saul said to listen to it, he did and it didn't work. Meowth was still as stubborn and callous as ever.

    "So are we really going to head back to Cularo Town without Meowth?" Bonnie sadly asked. Ash rejoined his friends and sat down beside Serena as they stared at the fire.

    "It can't be helped." Clemont answered solemnly, "Meowth didn't want to be found in the first place." Ash looked over at his Pokémon, Noivern looked back at him with a curious glance. Pikachu and Talonflame were eating their meals peacefully. Hawlucha ate his food while every so often looking back in Meowth's direction while Greninja had its back facing Meowth not wanting to lay eyes on it.

    "If it wants to be on its own then so be it!" He affirmed, grabbing everyone's attention, "I bet you that within five minutes it will be crawling back once Team Flare catches up with it!" He ranted loudly as apart of him hoped that the Pokémon in question could hear him.

    "Hey," Dr. Pan spoke up as he was looking over his past findings. "How far can a Pokémon like Meowth go? I'm no Pokémon expert but I must say that is one incredible Meowth, it's so exhausted and yet somehow it's able to gather all the strength it needs to keep going. It's as if nothing will stop it from reaching its goal, whatever that might be. I really do hope it changes its mind and allows me to follow it, the possibilities seem endless when I look into those magnificent blue eyes." He said with full admiration.

    Ash was taken back by Dr. Pan's statement. That's what he thought of it even after what it said? Well it can't be helped, those insults weren't exactly directed at him and their past together didn't start off on bad terms. Maybe it was Dr. Pan's pure ignorance that made him feel that way.

    "If I must I can do the rest on my own." Meowth's voice echoed as the image of it being completely worn out flash through his mind. "I sort of believe you, it was short-lived but I can't help but think that was the real you."

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    (You really are one of a kind.)
    Baltoy said breaking their silence. (I assumed you had a soft spot for humans, I guess I was wrong. Is he the boy with the Pikachu that your team has been chasing after all this time?)

    "How do you know about that?" Meowth asked shockingly.

    (Despite your current ranking, you are quite the popular one amongst various teams throughout the lands. Everyone knows about you and what you have been doing. I'm actually surprised that not more teams have come here to Kalos to try to get their hands on you now that you're out in the open. Whoever managed to separate you must have great connections to keep it all under wraps.)

    "Uh…seriously? No one knows because it's quite obvious that its Team Flare that was behind it." Meowth clarified.

    (Are you sure about that?) Meowth side glanced Baltoy curiously.

    (Not everything is, as it seems.) He soon felt the cold clay-like body as Baltoy pressed its back against his own.

    (I brought you here for a reason.) Meowth's heart skipped a beat as its breathing became heavy. (This was the birthplace of Pokéteers; you have already seen where they rest.)

    "The pillar that was guarded by the Bouffalant?" Meowth felt it nod, as the movement against its soft fur felt peaceful. "So Dr. Idiot was wrong it wasn't a memorial to the stars."

    (It is a memorial to the stars.) Baltoy corrected, (By day we learn how to be strong and how to be wise. By night our job is to protect and to guide others on our various missions like the moon and the stars that have come before us.) Meowth looked up at the few stars that he could see through the branches as he listened to Baltoy's childlike voice, he was so tired but the energy that was in this place made it hard to sleep.

    (Listen to them!) Baltoy whispered with a sense of urgency.

    "Huh? Listen to who?"

    (Never mind…the moon is in its waning phase. Tell me which do you like better the night of the full moon or the night of the new moon?) Meowth wasn't sure how to respond to the sudden random question but he figured to just go along with it.

    "Full moon."

    (Why?)

    "I guess it's because it's round and its light warms me up on cold nights. What about you?"

    (The new moon because it reminds me of change and renewal are always near.)

    "I…hate change!" Meowth seethed through a hiss. Baltoy turned its head slightly to get a glimpse at the scratch cat but Meowth didn't move an inch as he continued to stare at the piece of sky that was visible to them as he leaned against Baltoy's back with his own.

    "Did you know…" he started softly, "…that cheesecake brownies exist?" Their small talk carried them through the night into daybreak. Meowth didn't realize that they were talking to each other that long; it was easy to talk to Baltoy. Despite their differences, they both shared common ground. It was nice to just talk to someone about random things with no strings attached. Meowth didn't realize how much it missed the simple things it used to do with Jessie and James. They would always have random conversations that would sometimes lead to silly arguments but it was all in good fun.

    "I hope…"

    (We won't be able to outrun them forever.) Baltoy broke his train of thought, (I have a plan that should get them to leave you alone. However, it's risky and it could easily go wrong.)

    "What's the plan?"

    (The details are not important.) Baltoy removed itself from its current position so it could face Meowth directly.

    (You should prepare yourself for the challenge ahead.) It floated towards a path that was hidden behind the curia. Baltoy looked back at the lost Meowth. (Let's go!)

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    Author notes:

    The world of a Pokéteer: This was concept that I have thought about for years. The world of the organizations, I always thought could be dived into more and what better way than to use Meowth as the bridge for that concept. The concept of a Pokéteer came to me because it never really made sense that a Pokémon would be on the same level as a human in a cruel organization like Team Rocket. Sure it could talk but so did Mewtwo, I always felt there was more to explore when it came to the dynamics of an evil corporation.

    Top cat: Once again, I am going by the first season. In the very first episode it appeared, it talked about being the top cat and it acted like it was demoted. When the persian appeared it was shocked, feeling that it was replaced. I am well aware of a very stupid episode discrediting everything that was expressed in the first season and I honestly don't care and I would like to continue that doesn't exist. I can't tell you how much that episode ticked me off.

    In feung shui the East direction represents family and health East is the point of family and health.

    Baltoy feeling the vibrations is just something I made up, if it can really do that in the anime than cool.
    Chapter 14
    Author notes:

    Ash maybe even more out of character here. i know that he is more forceful and more hot headed but if you came this far please bare with it. I'm trying to keep him in character as much as possible in this situation I created.

    I am aware that the gym battle in Snowbelle city already happened, but this story could really happen anywhere. I just placed it there because that's when I started writing this story officially.

    Stairs vs. Curia

    To avoid confusion, the humans believe that the remains are stairs...only Meowth and Baltoy know the truth. Hence why its always changing due to who's perception I am writing at the moment.


    Chapter 14: Amazing Discoveries!​

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    Everyone woke up early, hoping that maybe a new day can put the tension in the air to rest. Some Pokémon yawned while others stretched their muscles as they waited for their breakfast. Despite the harsh reality of how Team Rocket and how other organizations treat their Pokémon, those two are still willing to work for them. Ash didn't understand their logic at all. Why work for someone that would treat you like you were a tool and nothing else? Baltoy and Meowth were nowhere to be seen until they saw Baltoy emerged from behind the bushes and trees that were behind the broken set of stairs, but Meowth was still missing. Ash started to feel uneasy but then suddenly the Pokémon perked up their attention to the canopy as a ball of white fur zigzagged its way back to camp. At times it disappeared and at other times reappeared landing on lower branches. It was Meowth jumping from tree to tree. From branches that were about five to ten feet high from one another in trees that were at least over thirty feet high.

    Meowth took one giant leap down landing on one of the much lower branches near the curia then it jumped while doing a somersault as it landed on one hind paw onto the giant boulder that was in the center. Landing on the boulder released a violet flame flashing before Meowth's eyes causing it to lose its balance, falling headfirst to the ground.

    "Ow," It moaned as it rubbed its head.

    "What was that?" It thought as it looked to the boulder then back at Baltoy who stared at it emotionlessly.

    "I'm doing the best I can," Meowth whined inwardly as Baltoy seemed unimpressed. "I get it. Everything up in the canopy is connected. It is an easier way to travel and I am getting the hang of it." He moved to start rubbing his aching hind legs and paws.

    "I haven't done stuff like this in a long time so it shouldn't be a surprise that my muscles are aching the way they are. I hope it doesn't show too much how out of practice I am. I'm surprised I can still do this much. Although, I don't know how much more I can take of this…I feel like I can pass out any minute, one hit from an attack and I'm done for."

    ***Crash***

    The sound of someone dropping a plate caused Meowth to turn and face the expressions of complete utter shock and disbelief on everyone's faces including the Pokémon.

    "Huh…what's your problem?" Meowth asked annoyingly as if nothing out of the ordinary happened.

    "I knew it! I knew it!" Ash excitedly jumped up and down. "You do know some moves after all! What was that just now? Was it agility? It was so amazing and so fast! It was agility, wasn't it?" His questions came out like rapid-fire as he couldn't contain his enthusiasm.

    "Tch…of course, it wasn't. Meowth can't learn agility and I told you already that I can't do any moves," Meowth affirmed in utter annoyance.

    "Pokémon can't talk and yet you can." Ash dryly pointed out. "How can you keep saying you can't do any moves? I know that can't be true. You can do furry swipes and you know flash. You could probably learn other moves if you tried. What you did just now was amazing, Meowth." Ash stated energetically as he was still pumped from his excitement.

    (Are you blind that was pitiful.) Baltoy corrected monotonously awarding itself a glare from Ash.

    (I thought I was watching a hatchling. That wasn't fast at all and your form was sloppy and irregular. If this were a test you would have failed if you did that in front of someone like Giovanni.)

    "Well…you see…" Meowth tried to find the words to explain itself nervously.

    "I guess it does show."

    "Back off!" Ash shouted, "Meowth has pushed itself way past its limit and was even able to do all of that on an empty stomach. What more could you possibly want?"

    "This doesn't concern you, twerp!" Meowth yelled, "Don't you have some gym battle to win? So hurry it up and leave!" Ash was at a loss for words, his rage started to intertwine with his sorrow overshadowing any sparks of happiness that he may have felt before, causing his body to tremble as he started to reach for an empty Poké Ball.

    "I want to understand it." A spark of light forced its way into his mind as he remembered that night, causing him to stop as his fingers brushed over the hard shell that could change everything.

    "Not yet," he thought, "…I will catch you…one day…" He declared to himself, "…However…I need to be able to understand you." He thought with realization as the dark clouds of his inner rage started to fade away.

    "What good would it do if I capture you now when I always feel…" Ash stopped his train of thought not wanting to admit it to himself the dark feelings of resentment and indifference he always held towards Meowth. Ash took another deep breath to calm himself down and walked away for a moment only to return with Pikachu on his shoulder and a bag in his hands.

    "You left this at the park the other night." He said calmly, regaining Meowth's attention as it turned back around to face him and saw the bag of cookies from Clio.

    "I would like it if you two joined us for some breakfast. We can talk freely to each other, you can tell me anything you want."

    "I'm not feeling hungry right now," Meowth answered softly as if it was trying to process a proper way to reciprocate his calm approach.

    "I will if you agree to leave," Meowth spoke calmly. Ash squeezed the bag lightly, he said he would last night but that was only out of anger. He was hoping a new day could change things but Meowth was still set in its ways. It's so stubborn!

    (Rocket!) Baltoy screeched as it stepped in between the two. (You're wasting our time.) It reprimanded.

    "How is getting something to eat a waste of time? You need energy if you want to keep going." "Pika, Pika," Ash stated defensively.

    (Concern yourself with your own Pokémon.) To silence the nuisance, Baltoy presented colbur, oran and salac berries for each of them to eat. (Eat your share quickly so we can finish what we started.)

    "But I don't like these berries. The colbur berry is too bitter and while the salac berry is sweet at first it leaves a bad after taste. And only idiots think that oran berries are tasteful, they're so bland." It whined.

    "Learn to be appreciative Meowth! You're in no position to be picky. Baltoy was nice enough to give them to you so you should be saying 'thank you' and eat them without complaints." Ash scolded. "Pikachu!" Pikachu confirmed. Meowth sighed seeing that it was going to be outnumbered if it didn't comply.

    It sat down in its place, "Fine," it muttered as it picked up the colbur berry and bit into it distastefully.

    The gang smiled happily as they watched it consume the berries as if a weight has been lifted off of them. Ash turned to Baltoy with a warm smile on his face.

    "We may not agree on most things, but I do want to say thank you…really…thank you." He said wholeheartedly as his dark brown eyes were stirred with emotion. He got up with Pikachu who was still on his shoulder to rejoin the rest of their friends. Baltoy watched the trainer leave but was unmoved by his actions.

    (Come with me, we don't have much time.) Baltoy spoke emotionlessly as it gestured for Meowth to follow it once again back into the dense forest.

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    "Having some berries isn't such a bad idea for an empty stomach. Pokéchow or anything we have might make it feel sick." Clemont pointed out as he handed some food to his Pokémon.

    "So let's go find some more fruit!" Bonnie suggested cheerfully.

    "What do you think Dedenne?"

    "De, De!" It concurred.

    "With Noivern's help, we could find the perfect ones." She proposed.

    "Would you mind Noivern?" Ash asked.

    "Noivern." It said gladly.

    "But would the Baltoy allow that?" Dr. Pan questioned, taking away what little hope they all had.

    "Oh, I didn't mean to make you kids feel upset." He quickly tried to recant his last statement franticly. He then returned to a normal composer to add his two cents into the fold.

    "I'm just an outsider looking in, you definitely have a past that's filled with anger and hurtful memories together. You're trying to reach out but that overwhelming feeling from the past always seems to bury itself into your mind. Now a Baltoy is by its side, preventing you from getting to close. Personally, I don't think it's a bad thing, I think it's truly trying to help Meowth in a way that no one else can. In fact, some ancient civilizations believed that Baltoy and Meowth have some sort of divine link to each other. Not much is known except that they were always considered to be of great guidance for one another. Baltoy says some pretty harsh things, but that's not the real problem." He paused as their attention weighed heavy on him.

    "It seems you don't have much faith in Meowth." They all felt a sharp pain of guilt as he stated the harsh truth in the matter.

    "I think you should have a little more faith. Looking back when we parted ways…that look in its eyes, as an archeologist myself I could tell it was searching for something. What that something is I don't think it even knows itself. It's amazing if you think about it. I can only imagine what it might discover and I can't help but want to be there when it does." He said merrily.

    "Dr. Pan, it sounds like you're becoming rather fond of Meowth," Serena noted.

    "Does it?" He laughed it off.

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    They had a quick breakfast so they wouldn't get left behind. Ash was more than ready to head back so he could go to his next gym battle but also had a lingering feeling that maybe he should stay a little while longer. Leaving Meowth behind left a sick feeling in his gut telling him not to. Either it was to come with them or they continue to follow it. The only problem was where was it going and how long was it going to take them. Also, Meowth isn't going to come willingly so the use of force would be unavoidable, which wasn't much of a problem since it was just Meowth they were talking about, but it would create unnecessary hurdles in the future. Everyone started to call back their Pokémon; Noivern was flying about searching for good pieces of fruit and bringing them back for Bonnie to place in a bag.

    "Hey, where did Meowth and Baltoy go?" Bonnie pointed out, noticing the missing Pokémon.

    "Pancham's not here either," Serena confirmed. Sylveon wrapped one of its feelers around Serena's hand tugging her into the direction to show her the path behind the remaining stairs. Ash called back Greninja and Talonflame to their poke balls, noticing that Hawlucha was perched upon the tree branch that Meowth jumped from previously and was focusing on something intently.

    "Hawlucha, is Meowth and the others over there?" Ash asked, Hawlucha turned to him and nodded.

    "Thank you, you may return," Ash recalled his Pokémon to its Poké Ball, smiling at it before placing it on his belt.

    "Noivern! You can stop now, we are heading towards Meowth!" Ash shouted.

    "Noivern!" Noivern cried out, taking that as an indication to fly down to where Meowth and Baltoy were, which didn't seem to far away for the group to get there on their own.

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    (Rocket,)
    Baltoy broke their silence, (A Mightyena might be able to disguise itself as a Mareep but it can't hide its fangs.)

    Meowth looked at it questionably, "Can…Mightyena really do that?"

    (Rocket!) It snapped demandingly, causing Meowth to stand up straight in attention at its demand.

    (Humans rely on instincts too, don't forget that.) It warned. Meowth wanted to respond but didn't know what to say.

    "Ok." It muttered, thinking that was the best answer.

    (When they show up you have to be at your very best. You can't afford to screw this up. Your battlefield will become this forest, which is the perfect match for your speed. It will give you the advantage.)

    "Uh…what was that back there?" Meowth asked changing the subject. Baltoy turned and looked at it questioningly.

    "That purple light, it came out of the boulder when I touched it. Was I seeing things?" Baltoy was about to answer until something behind Meowth distracted it causing Meowth to turn to see what it was. It was Pancham who carried bashful energy as it walked up closer. It was carrying something behind it.

    "Pancham, Pan, Pan." (I hope we can start over.) It showed it was carrying a pecha berry.

    "Pancham, Pan, Pan, Cham, Pancham." (I wasn't lying about wanting to be friends.) It said earnestly as it placed the pecha berry into Meowth's paws. Meowth was speechless to the gesture as he was handed the pecha berry. Meowth looked at the berry, he was touched by the friendly gesture and he remembered when Pancham saved him from being captured. After everything, he said Pancham was still reaching out to him. It was the first one to accept him into the group and was the only one while the others remained indifferent or ignored his presence entirely. Pancham was being honest about wanting to be his friend, it wasn't until the twerps took notice and started to manipulate the situation into their favor. He knew right away that was their intention once the twerpete was letting it walk around with them. Not to mention he heard her say exactly that when she was telling the other twerps, he wasn't even that far away from them. Did they think he was deaf? Whatever...Meowth knew that despite the intentions of the twerps, Pancham's were genuine. However…

    "You need to understand that we can't be friends." He mumbled softly as he looked at the berry. "I will be rejoining Team Rocket and I will return to stealing Pikachu and the rest of your friends." He then returned the pecha berry back to a saddened Pancham.

    "It would be best if you just hated me like the others. I don't blame any of you for it. In the end, you will only be fooling yourself if you think being my friend will change anything."

    (Rocket, we are losing time. The pet may come along if it wants.) Baltoy stepped in, causing Pancham to glare at it. They continued to walk through the forest together as Meowth started to feel himself zone out.

    (Rocket! Pay attention to your surroundings!) Baltoy impatiently directed.

    (You need to know the land to keep the upper hand. When they catch up they are going to use whatever means necessary, do not let what they say deter you from our original plan. We want to make sure their goal on trying to catch you ends here.) Some of the trees were taller in this part of the forest as the tree roots themselves created an entangled mess.

    (There are over two hundred of high branches and thick roots combined in this area alone. You are to jump onto every single one at your highest speed. You can do it however you like just make sure you end it right back here.)

    "WHAT!?" Are you Crazy!?"

    (It's just a little training session to loosen your muscles. Don't you do stuff like this at Team Rocket Headquarters or with your Rusui?)

    "Not really."

    (What do you mean by that? You're required to train on a daily basis.)

    "I saw no point in training after I joined Jessie and James and neither did the boss since I was going to be traveling with them all the time. I just have to pop in every now and then to pass the basic survival test."

    (What do you do with your Rusui if you are not training?) Meowth thought about a typical day and it was basically them goofing off, watching TV, sunbathing, soaking it up in a hot spring, playing games or partying.

    "We…challenge…our minds." It said nervously.

    (What?)

    "I have no need to train, I'm fine with the way things are," Meowth said trying to defend itself.

    (You must be joking. What kind of Pokémon doesn't even want to train itself to become stronger? Becoming stronger should be your top priority.)

    "Well, it isn't for me! To train day in and day out is a meaningless life if you ask me. The only reason anyone trains is to prove to others that they are worth something. I don't need to prove my own self worth to anyone. If I want to make myself stronger, I will do it for myself, no one else." Meowth protested.

    (You sound ridiculous! I was assigned the mission to protect you from Team Flare and I will succeed in doing that, but mark my words I'm not going to let you slack off and risk getting captured. This land is sacred to Pokéteers everywhere, I won't let you soil it. You can't be taking it easy when you are all alone, one false move will lead you to the end of your freedom.)

    "You think I don't know that!?" Meowth shouted losing its self-control in the process. Meowth stepped back, raising a paw to cover its eyes in embarrassment.

    "I'm sorry…I'm just really tired…I'm tired of everything…Please, let's just head back, I know what is required of me when they get here."

    (Your behavior is completely unacceptable for a Pokéteer! You were separated from your Rusui, so what! You're not the first one to be separated, many Pokéteers before you have gone through similar situations. You are in a tough spot now, but do you honestly think your hardships will end once you rejoin your team?) Meowth looked up at Baltoy questionably.

    (Our world is changing and our hardships in life will only become greater in the process. If you can't handle it then you are not cut out to be a Pokéteer. Maybe it would be better for you to just surrender yourself to them.)

    "How dare you! I will never do that…EVER!" Meowth snapped, "Being apart of Team Rocket is the best thing that has ever happened to me. Being put with Jessie and James was the greatest thing that has ever happened to me. I love traveling with them and I wouldn't trade it for anything." Meowth stopped itself realizing what it was admitting out loud was a weakness. And it was admitting it to an audience member that would not be moved by anything it had to say.

    "Hey…have you ever laughed spontaneously with someone before?" He continued anyway in a soft melancholy voice. He looked down at the ground not wanting to make eye contact with someone who was so cold. He knew what he was about to say would only anger it, but holding it in was hurting him even more. He had to get it off his chest.

    "I have…and it's a very warm feeling that's indescribable. I…never knew what it was like to laugh or to just simply smile before I met Jessie and James. I was really lucky to be placed with them, to feel true happiness. If it wasn't for them I would have been truly lost." It covered its eyes with its paw once again as it felt its tears rolling down.

    "I'm sorry…I know it's wrong…but I can't help it. I guess I do have a soft spot for humans. You may not trust them and maybe I shouldn't either, but I feel that it's okay to trust humans, that we can work together. If you think about it humans have a unique power of their own that we Pokémon will never be able to achieve." Meowth took a glance at a very unmoved Baltoy who was silently listening to his plight.

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    "Hey! Look! There they are!" Bonnie pointed out to the small group of Pokémon standing beside the large entwining roots of a tree.

    "Sorry," They overheard Meowth speak in a soft mumbled up whisper due to the acoustics the forest provided.

    "I'm probably wrong, I usually am…maybe I'm just being naïve, but if it's true that everything happens for a reason then may…be…could you please just have a little more faith in me to figure it all out." They stopped in their tracks as they listened to its plea. Its back was turned to them as it was confiding to Baltoy.

    "Noivern!" The flapping of heavy wings and the rustling of the leaves from the trees and on the ground moved as Noivern landed right next to Meowth who lifted its head slightly to see that Noivern has presented it with another peach.

    "Noivern, Noivern." (This is for you.)

    "Pancham, Pancham." (You can still have this.) Pancham added as it tried to hand it the pecha berry again. Trying to hide his tear-filled eyes from them as he took in their kind-hearted expressions. They truly wanted to be there to comfort him with the utmost genuine feelings that one could express.

    (You can't have it both ways.) Baltoy said emotionlessly, (Agents are meant to intervene when it is necessary, not to be used as a shield. You can't hide forever, our world won't let you. I hope you learn that soon before it's too late.)

    "Haven't you heard?" Meowth asked slyly as it still kept its eyes covered by its paw.

    "I'm great at making up clever lies." It sounded sly but its voice was still shaking.

    "Pancham!" Serena was the first one to call out as the group walked up closer. Meowth stayed in position with its back facing them, it was slouching slightly so it straightened itself out fast as it heard the twerps coming their way. Wiping its paw across its eyes hoping any remnants of it crying was gone. It kept its back towards them not wanting to acknowledge their presence as it continued to focus on Baltoy who was as emotionless as ever standing in front of it. Its ears started to twitch as it picked up multiple sounds. Meowth swallowed its breath...it was time. Noivern then turned to face the direction where their camp was but was distracted by Ash.

    "Thank you for all your help today Noivern." He said as he pulled out his Poké Ball and called it back as Serena did the same for Pancham. Ash then turned to Meowth with a soft smile but couldn't help but be overcome with sadness for the little scratch cat. Was it crying? They all thought as it kept its back towards them.

    (We should get going.) Baltoy suggested as Meowth nodded in agreement. Baltoy floated passed Meowth and the humans heading towards the camp area once again. It signed with its back towards them and Meowth.

    (Winning against our enemies is an easy task, it's the battle we face inside ourselves that is the most difficult. I do believe in you, I just hope that you didn't extinguish the flame that once burned so brightly inside of you.) It stated monotonously. Everyone then turned to the Pokémon in question as it kept its back towards them. It suddenly jumped high above them, doing a backflip in the air then landing in front of Baltoy. As if it were creating an 'R' with its body. It stood on one foot with the other ready to sprint off. Its body was titling sideways as its tail was curved out while one paw was placed at the hip and the other was pointing to itself.

    "I'm a Rocketeer, there's no end in our persistence." It said confidently as if it were filled with life once again. It was grinning slightly but its eyes showed it was still in deep sorrow. It sprinted on ahead with Baltoy right behind it, leaving everyone behind slightly confused.

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    Meowth's body was tingling with an unfamiliar sensation. Meowth had to stay calm as it was heading towards the broken curia where its fate will be determined. The two Pokémon made their way out of the bushes and there standing by the arch were two familiar faces, one was sitting on the Rapidash as the other stood in front of it. Meowth and Baltoy stopped once they reached the side of the giant boulder, keeping a good distance between the two parties. Meowth's heart started to beat faster as it saw their smug faces staring at him as if they already won the battle.

    "Breath…breath...stay calm."

    "We found you!" Takashi chimed pompously as he was perched up on Rapidash.

    "All is forgiven little Rocketeer, I can't stay mad at you forever. As you can see, my lovely complexion has not been ruined by your cruel attack." He said charmingly as he placed his pink peony flower to his lips.

    "You poor little lost thing, please stop these silly games and join me! I Takashi will grant you everything that your heart desires!"

    "What's going on over there?" Dr. Pan asked as everyone reentered the open space.

    "TEAM FLARE!" The kids gasped. Takashi glared with his sharp golden eyes as he played with his white hair.

    "Don't tell me you wish to travel with these simpletons. You're finally free of those Rocket brutes and now you degrade yourself with them, how uncouth. You are worth so much more, come now our chase ends here my little kitten!"

    "Kitten?!" Meowth growled as it was slightly irritated by that remark.

    "How many times do I have to tell you, I'm not alone, we just had a fight and I needed to get away for a bit. They should be crawling back here any minute to apologize to me." It spoke rather convincingly as it reiterated a scenario that has happened in the past.

    "Enough!" Tatsuo demanded in a strict booming voice that sent chills down Meowth's spine.

    "The agents for Team Rocket are nowhere to be found. Make this easy on yourself and come with us willingly."

    "Meowth isn't going anywhere with you!" Ash shouted as he stepped in front of Meowth. "Pikachu!"

    "Stay out of this twerp! You're only making it worse!" Meowth snapped.

    They looked at it in shock as Baltoy added, (This is a matter between agencies, it would be better if outsiders don't get involved.)

    "Hmm…and here I thought we were just searching for the one, but now there are two Pokéteers," Tatsuo said methodically. "You're not a Rocketeer but Team Flare can easily take you too, but we are only here for the Rocket. Step aside and I will let you walk freely."

    (I can't do that. We may serve different teams but we are both Pokéteers and as Pokéteers we understand the struggles that one must face to survive. Our desires are the same, we wish to stay free and serve at our own will and not by someone else's.)

    "As poetic as that sounds, that doesn't change the facts. Kalos belongs to Team Flare and when a Pokéteer from another team is left stranded in someone else's territory that Pokéteer is free for the taking." Takashi explained whimsically as he was off of Rapidash and was stroking its face gently.

    "It's no accident that we found you here," Tatsuo stated strictly with arms folded across his chest with a stern expression that was unmoving. Was it Team Flare that was behind all of this?

    "No, it doesn't make any sense. Like Anthony said and even our own intelligence at Team Rocket Headquarters claimed that Team Flare have their own priorities. Separating me would be a waste of their time." Meowth kept a blank expression as he kept his eyes on his opponents. Dealing with the twerps was one thing but it was Team Flare that scared him the most, especially Tatsuo. He stared at the man with red hair in the usual Team Flare outfit that consisted of the red blazer with the belt buckle that had Team Flare's insignia. Suddenly, a vision of the shadow man from his dreams flashed before his eyes as he stared at Tatsuo.

    "Why would I be thinking about that at a time like this?"

    (Listen!) Baltoy whispered, grabbing Meowth's attention.

    "Can Baltoy read my thoughts?"

    (Listen to what they are telling you.) It continued to whisper.

    "Listen to who?"

    "You Rockets think your so sly sneaking around our land without our knowledge." Tatsuo continued regaining Meowth's attention once more, "We knew you were here the very minute you set foot onto Kalos and every move that you made since then, that is until recently. Information about the whereabouts of the Team Rocket agents is completely unknown. It is as if they vanished without a trace."

    "Vanished?" Ash questioned shockingly as everyone was stunned by the information. Meowth, however, stayed calm, keeping his blank expression intact. As much as he wanted to ask the thousands of questions that were floating around his head, he couldn't afford to show he was bothered by it…it's what they want…a reaction to prove that he is alone.

    "The only one that has been accounted for is the Rocketeer that has been traveling with them." Tatsuo continued. "Team Rocket is not the strong formidable organization that it once was. You should consider yourself lucky that Team Flare is invested in you and that we are willing to give you a lifeline to jump off a sinking ship. You would be better off in Team Flare, your talents should be put to use for an organization that is thriving with agents that have higher caliber."

    "Prove it!" Meowth demanded harshly. Tatsuo's presence terrified Meowth to the core, but what he was saying about Team Rocket erupted a burning sensation of rage that ignited within itself. How dare he say stuff like that about Team Rocket!

    "You sure are confident about being the better choice but for all, I know you could be lying to me. Prove it to me that you are the superior choice!" Meowth spoke daringly as he challenged the Flares head-on. It was dead silence as everyone watched in awe. Sapphire eyes that were filled with passion and determination, keeping its composer and not losing focus of the dilemma at hand. Baltoy observed the Meowth that stood before it, this was the Rocketeer it heard stories about…this was the infamous "Top Cat" of Team Rocket.

    "Oooo, how I love the fire in your eyes." Takashi swooned, "Partner, it looks like you made the little Rocketeer angry. Just look at it, the fire in its eyes…it's so mesmerizing. I've been meaning to add a little spunk to my lovely collection."

    "I have a challenge for you. If you win I will do whatever you want." Meowth suggested calmly with flames of rage still burning strong within its eyes while catching a few off guard at its proposal.

    "If I were to leave Team Rocket, I would want to know that I'm trading up instead of receiving a downgrade. If Team Flare is so great then it should be easy for you. Show me what I can gain by being with you."

    "My, my, it certainly knows how to make things interesting." Takashi gloated.

    "Tatsuo, a Pokéteer is not something I want to just hand over to our leader, especially one from Team Rocket. Receiving a direct challenge with its own freedom on the line is a great opportunity, we would be fools not to accept its offer." Tatsuo was unmoved as Meowth felt his cold hard glare through his black shades that covered his eyes.

    "We've already wasted enough time due to your antics. If you're not going to come willingly then you leave me no choice." He said threateningly as he pulled out a Poké Ball containing a Pokémon. Ash didn't move an inch as he stayed right beside Meowth, preparing himself for a battle as he and his friends readied themselves.

    "So you are weaker then Team Rocket," Meowth spoke boldly as it broke through the high tension.

    "You don't even know what the challenge is and yet you're going to back out so quickly. Jessie and James maybe pathetic but at least they would have the courage to face any challenge head-on despite the difficulty." It was like watching a small kitten play with a lit candle. Tatsuo's glare felt colder as the scratch cat challenged him so daringly. Meowth was playing a very dangerous game with a very dangerous player. The Flares were smart, the polar opposite of the level of idiocy that Team Rocket and the twerps have. Meowth had to really bring it's A-game to the table if it wanted to make it out of here.

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    The wind suddenly picked up speed as something from above was coming towards them. It was coming from behind the Flares as everyone looked up to see what it was. The trees were tall blocking their view, but as the big figurine in the sky made its way closer above the opening in the forest, the Meowth hot air balloon was more apparent.

    "They found me!" Meowth felt like it could breathe again as it saw the happy sight. Two familiar figures stood tall inside the basket as a ladder was dropped for Meowth to climb up once it got closer to the ground.

    "I told you they were in town!" Meowth exclaimed joyfully as everyone was too surprised by the site.

    "Oh how unfortunate, it seems that you were wrong about Team Rocket, Tatsuo," Takashi said, sounding very disappointed. Tatsuo eyed his partner, unmasked by the chain of events.

    "I suggest you leave, otherwise you better prepare yourself for double the trouble," Meowth said menacingly but then changed its demeanor into a lighthearted expression as it pulled out a piece of white quartz.

    "Here for your troubles." It said snidely as it threw it to Tatsuo to catch. "It's from the Laurel Museum's crypt. I stole that piece for myself and here's an added tip, the crypt has another entrance that leads straight outside. Consider it our way of saying 'no hard feelings.'" It said with a big smile.

    "Oh-ho, ho, you are too smart for your own good." Takashi chuckled as he hopped back on Rapidash.

    "Come on, Tatsuo we should go have a look. One could never have too many precious gems and stones." He said whimsically. Tatsuo examined the piece of quartz, he then looked up at the balloon that spoiled his plans then back at Meowth.

    "It seems that your tricks may have saved you for today, but your days as a Rocketeer are numbered. When that day comes…I'll be the one smiling." He said with an intimating smirk. He hopped onto Rapidash's back behind Takashi and the group watched the Flares disappear into the woods...hopefully for good. Meowth was too preoccupied to realize the big can of Wurmple it just unleashed as Ash and his friends listened to this new development. So Team Rocket was here and Meowth was just a decoy to keep them out of the way. What more proof did they need?

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    "I'm finally free of this nightmare." Meowth thought as it was near to tears of joy as it jumped up onto the boulder so it could reach the ladder quicker once it got closer. The violet flame reappeared as if it was trying to engulf Meowth. The energy was too intense causing Meowth to lose its balance as it fell to its knees. The boulder started to crack open as a giant gust of wind ripped through the floating balloon revealing the Meowth shape was just a cover for the Solrock shape that was underneath.

    "Huh? What's going on?" Meowth thought worryingly as it crawled away from the boulder. The hot air balloon was out of control as the wind started to toss it further away. Baltoy intervened as it used its telekinesis bringing the broken contraption down to safety. Baltoy released it once the green basket touched the ground. The two familiar figurines turned out to be nothing more than paper cut-outs of the silhouettes of Jessie and James. Leaving Meowth feeling empty inside as if the idea of being reunited with its friends was nothing more than a mere fantasy.

    "What's going on here?" Dr. Pan asked breaking everyone's silence since the others were too dumbfounded for words. Ash was only mere seconds away from calling out a Pokémon to blast them off once again but this was the last thing he expected to see. Something stirred in the basket, a Bidoof popped out and tumbled its way out while laughing bashfully.

    (The plan didn't succeed the way we had planned it but at least Team Flare won't be much of a problem anymore.) Baltoy spoke up as it floated to Bidoof's side.

    "Bidoof, Bidoof!" It said cheerfully.

    (Rocket, I couldn't tell you the full length of the plan because I needed you to give an authentic performance. The whole point of this morning was to make sure you were ready if it had failed.) Meowth lifted its head with a bright smile.

    "I'm glad I was convincing since I knew the whole time. The basket was the give away since we don't use the green one anymore." Meowth laughed it off forcing the feeling of lightheartedness to hide its agony. Meowth mentally kicked himself for not realizing it sooner. The idea of them vanishing without a trace crossed his mind but quickly pushed it away not wanting to agonize over his predicament any further.

    "Meowth, did you really?" Bonnie asked sympathetically as everyone was still processing.

    "De." It mimicked her feelings.

    "Of course!" It said encouragingly.

    (I'm quite impressed, you played along well as it is expected of any Pokéteer.)

    "Is stealing and giving tips on how to steal from a museum also apart of being a Pokéteer?" Ash demanded. "Don't think I'm going to let that slide, you promised us you wouldn't steal anything."

    "Last time I checked our deal ended before that day," Meowth responded casually.

    "It was wrong to make that deal, we should have never traveled together in the first place. If you want to be a hero so badly then go stop them yourself." Ash growled out its response.

    (I must be honest with you,) Baltoy began regaining their attention.

    (After witnessing your foolish behavior, I was worried that you were no longer capable of becoming a true Pokéteer. It wasn't that your potential diminished, it was you who reached your own conclusions prematurely. It is sad really, the life of a Pokéteer isn't an easy one, unlike other Pokémon we are not blind to the ugly truths in this world. You are still young, but maybe this journey will help you to understand what it truly means to be a Pokéteer.) It then looked at the boulder before it continued.

    (Our world changes every day and we must know when to change with it. A new moon is on the horizon, I hope that the Rocketeer I saw that day in Kanto remembers the ambition it once had in time to ride the waves of change before its too late and drowns.) Meowth stiffened at the idea. It then remembered the violet flame that appeared.

    "Hey," It mumbled, "That boulder…is there something inside it? Like maybe…an amethyst?"

    "Amethyst?" Dr. Pan repeated. He ran up to it to get a closer look with Clemont ready to help.

    "It looks like a typical boulder to me," Serena said.

    "I'm not getting any indication that there's anything inside it." Dr. Pan stated.

    "Wait, we'll use this," Clemont said enthusiastically as he pulled out another one of his inventions. His sister, Bonnie, groaned at the site as the two nerds congregated around the rock.

    (Timing is everything when it comes to secrets.) Meowth swallowed its breath as Baltoy repeated what Anthony said that day.

    (When you find your friends, don't forget about this place. Great change is inevitable, as you are right now it will destroy you. But as long as you listen to them, you will find your way.) If this was Baltoy's way of a pep talk, it wasn't very good. Meowth was even more confused than it was before. What's it supposed to do now? A great change was coming? Should it even continue this farce of a journey?

    Meowth eyed the empty hot air balloon basket, "Wait for me, I will find you!"

    (My mission was to protect you from Team Flare, it would be better if I kept a closer eye on them to make sure that our little scheme was good enough for them to leave.) Baltoy wasn't the best companion to travel with, but Meowth was still slightly saddened to see it go so soon.

    (Your little tip won't go to waste, Laurel Museum belongs to one of our allies. We will work together to make sure they are satisfied.)

    "You mean you're going to go stop them?" Ash asked.

    (This is a delicate situation between agencies, the owners of the museum will understand our current predicament. Thanks to the Rocket the circumstances may have flipped in our favor. I must go and inform the agents that sent for me of our progress. They will know what to do, in the meantime, you should continue on with your journey.) Meowth couldn't hide its concern over the idea that other teams were going to collaborate. The idea that Team Flare or any other team that might behind Team Rocket's disappearance was unsettling. The fact that multiple teams were going to converse, most likely about him was even more unsettling.

    (Don't worry.) Batloy broke through its train of thought. (We are on your side. I do have faith in you…I hope we will meet again someday.) Meowth looked at it for a moment and smiled warmly.

    "Thank you."

    Baltoy turned to Bidoof who was standing upright by the damaged balloon. They both nodded to each other and with that Baltoy quickly jumped behind the bushes and the rustling of the bushes decreased as it got further away. Meowth turned its focus onto the hot air balloon once more. It was ruined due to the wind and the pilot's lack of skills, making it unflyable. Ash tried to see its expression to a get a better read on it, but its back was turned to him and looking any further would seem rude. Meowth titled its head down then turned its attention to the boulder. Making its expressionless features visible for Ash to see. There was nothing in its eyes that sparked with emotion, it was as if it drifted off somewhere deep inside its own mind.

    "Did you really know?"

    Dr. Pan was gathering as much information as he could, such as the few carving details in the arch and the remaining stairs. He snapped pictures and loaded them into his computer while the kids watched him curiously, listening to him rattle off random theories. All of which were wrong, he was thinking it might have been a palace or something to that extent. Meowth eavesdropped every so often as it observed the kooky man and the preoccupied twerps. It started to head back in the direction of the river, passing the arch where Bidoof was standing upright by the disassembled balloon. Bidoof's smile was genuine as it titled its head slightly.

    "Bidoof, Bidoof."

    "Uh…yeah…don't worry I will return the favor once I find them." It said reassuringly. Bidoof stretched out its paw and grabbed Meowth's to shake.

    "Bidoof, Oof."

    "Uh…yeah…I was just lucky that one of the clues lead me to that crypt. If it wasn't for that scavenger hunt I wouldn't have known about it." Meowth quickly removed his paw as he bashfully explained his success. He was unsure what to do in this sort of situation and he just wanted to leave this embarrassing ordeal behind him.

    "Bidoof, Bidoof, Oof." It stated happily, Meowth widened his eyes slightly before returning to a normal expression. He shook the feeling away as he saw the twerp.

    "Scavenger hunt?" Ash with Pikachu on his shoulder walked up to it with a displeased look on his face.

    "Is that what you meant about doing a scavenger hunt? What else did you steal?" He asked sternly, as far as Ash was concerned stealing was wrong, it didn't matter if the people were affiliated with a criminal organization. It was a behavior that was not acceptable and it needed to be dealt with. Deal or no deal, he wasn't going to let Meowth get away with it.

    "I don't have to answer to you. Later twerp, it's been not so nice traveling with you." It said rudely as it turned away.

    "Wait!" Dr. Pan cried out, "Don't go, just give me a few more minutes so we can go together."

    "We agreed we would go our separate ways, the show is over. I have places to go and friends to find." It spoke nonchalantly as it started to walk away. Ash wasn't going to let that happen as he stepped in front of it blocking its path as Pikachu jumped off ready to fight.

    "You were holding onto something before. Did you steal that as well?" He asked accusingly. This sparked Dr. Pan's curiosity as he remembered seeing something in its paws before.

    "I remember that it looked round. I would like to see it as well, it looked very old." He said cheerfully as he walked up to the scratch cat, hoping that maybe this time it will trust him.

    "I don't care if you're mad that I stole something from the museum. Our deal was off and their security was weak. I wasn't going to let a chance like that slip me by." Meowth sighed as if it were just explaining a simple errand it had to run.

    "It really is too bad Jessie and James aren't here, we could have scored big time." A warmhearted smile suddenly appeared as it giggled slightly, "I just love museum heists, they are truly the best." It said dreamily.

    "You're awful," Bonnie stated.

    "Is this sort of thing normal?" Dr. Pan questioned as he looked to the others who were embarrassed by Meowth's warped mind. Ash was trying very hard to keep his cool as well as trying to refrain himself from calling on Pikachu to thunderbolt it for gloating about its bad deeds, reminding himself that it was still in a very weak state and its punishment will just have to wait.

    "While I don't approve of Meowth's actions since being a victim of theft myself was an awful experience. I still would like to see what you have, I didn't get a good look at it before but it looked like it had something on it. You might be holding a clue to the Statue of Rina."

    "I highly doubt that," Meowth mumbled, he sighed seeing that he wasn't going to get anywhere. He pulled out the old medallion in question.

    "It was the last clue in the scavenger hunt. Turns out the clue at the hilltop wasn't blank, it was trying to point me to the Kairos Clock Tower. It was in front of me the whole time. I didn't realize it until we were at the train station." It explained softly as it held on to the medallion. It was old, with a carving of the north star in the design of a compass rose. Dr. Pan was astonished to what it was.

    "Amazing…" He exhaled as he reached out to touch it but Meowth stopped him by batting his hand away. As it explained the kids recalled when it ran off and when the two bullies mentioned a Meowth being spotted in the town square. But it felt like there was so much more that it was not telling them. That it being out here on its own couldn't be as simple as that.

    "I know you have been against it from the beginning Meowth, but if following you lead me to this," He pointed to the ruins. "I just know I will find the Statue of Rina if we keep going together." Dr. Pan exclaimed as he caught his breath. He was so pumped with boundless energy, that stopping prematurely was out of the question.

    "It's not like I want to be out here! I need to find Jessie and James not partake in some stupid expedition with you!" Meowth yelled.

    The gang felt a twinge of guilt as they have almost forgotten that major fact. Someone purposely separated the Team Rocket trio, they found it when it just woke up wandering the streets looking for its friends. They vanished? That was shocking news even for them, but Meowth seemed calm about it all. It was unwavering as it heard the dark tales of their disappearance, of someone using hypnosis on it, of being separated from its friends and left alone so it would be free for the taking. For someone like Meowth, it should have panicked and acted like the scaredy cat it is, but it never did. It's as if it's trying not to lose control of the only thing it has left. It doesn't react anymore, it's always drifting away to a place where it can't be reached.

    "You have been saying that since the beginning," Ash spoke softly as he tilted the lid of his hat to cover his eyes more.

    "You've been worried this whole time and yet you treated it like it was some big secret." He choked on his words a little as a few tears made their way down. The smell of saltwater hit Meowth instantly as it stiffened to the new scent.

    "He's…crying?"

    "I don't care what you say! You stole something, I can't ignore that or our past, but I do want to help you but I can't if you don't let me." He choked on a few of his words again.

    "All this time you were spacing out…" He lowered himself to his knees as his eyes remained covered by the lid of his hat. "There's something else your not telling us. You can tell us…you can tell me…you know that we would help you." He paused.

    "Please let me help you." He whimpered. Meowth observed him closely as the scent of tears drifted into its nose. It wasn't just him, it was his friends as well. Meowth knew that they truly wished to help, it always knew that. It also understood the logic behind Baltoy's prejudice against humans. Maybe he really is naive about humans but Meowth just can't bring himself to ignore the light he has seen in the individuals he has come across throughout his lifetime. To live an isolated life is a lonely life and it is a life that Meowth doesn't want to relive.

    "Stop," Meowth murmured, it reached out with a paw and tapped Ash on the nose gaining his attention.

    "Stop it." It spoke softly as it looked away.

    "You're really annoying." It sighed as it continued to speak softly.

    "Honestly getting rid of you is like trying to break free from a master ball. I can't stop you but stay out of my way and I will stay out of yours." Ash instinctively reached over to pet it on the head. Meowth batted his hand away gently with an aggravated expression. Ash smirked as he rubbed his unscratched hand. Even though it wasn't the ideal way of saying it was willing to start over he was happy nonetheless.

    "While I'm willing to put up with traveling with you again," Meowth started off in an annoyed tone, "I will be rejoining Team Rocket. Nothing you say or do will change that and if you try to do another one of your twerpy attempts to change that then I'm outta here." Ash couldn't hide his displeased expression but quickly changed it to a soft grin and reached out with a pinky finger.

    "Until then, let's work together…that's the deal I want." He said. Everyone, including Dr. Pan semi-circled Meowth as they reached out with their own pinky.

    "What are you doing?" Meowth inquired with a puzzled look.

    "It's a pinky promise," Bonnie answered happily.

    "Pinky promise? What's that?" It titled its head out of curiosity as Bidoof joined its side observing the situation contentedly with a questionable expression as well.

    "Cute!" The girls thought as they blushed.

    "It's like a pledge," Ash answered.

    "A twerp pledge?" It repeated, smirking at the thought then batted the twerp's hat into his face playfully. Ash startled by its action quickly fixed it as Meowth jumped over him to return to the river's side.

    "Making a deal with you twerps was a mistake," Meowth said causally as Bidoof rejoined its side.

    "But…" Serena mumbled.

    "Let's just stick with the simple idea that we are walking on the same road." It said as it turned to start heading back to the river.

    "Wait, before we go I still haven't figured out what you meant by there being an amethyst inside the boulder." Dr. Pan explained causing Meowth to flinch as it turned around to face them again.

    "What did you mean by that? The scanner is not picking up anything." He explained happily.

    "I…uh…well" It nervously tried to think of a reasonable answer. Its eyes widened as something caught its attention.

    "Whoa…amazing." It said in an awestruck tone. It pointed it out causing them to look behind them to see that nothing was there. They turned back around to see that Meowth and the Bidoof were gone.

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    Author notes:

    As I mentioned earlier Ash maybe too out of character. I'm well aware that Ash would have stopped it or would have done something to bring back stolen goods but hopefully the complexity of the situation is clear enough as to why I prevented that action from happening.

    The violet flame is to long to explain...to sum it up it deals with the highest level of spirituality in alchemy

    Pinky promise

    Like I mentioned before, Meowth is not going to know or understand everything about human behavior etc. since its a Pokémon and I am treating it as such. I don't remember it doing it in the anime so if it did...oops.

    Agility is not a move that Meowth can learn according to all the sites (I also that it could...guess not) But what it does have is the mountaineer ability from the Pokémon Conquest game. Which gives Meowth the ability to climb up high places. So basically since this is a fanfic based on the anime, I combined the to abilities so you as a reader could visualize it better.

    Finally there was a lot of build up but no battle...what gives yingyang90! Well believe me I was going to but it just became to complicated hence the long wait for an update. No matter what I did it wouldn't have made sense and the characters would have been way out of character...even my own. Also it felt too early for a big battle and I haven't revealed everything yet...so don't worry a battle will take place...just not right now.
    Chapter 15
    Author notes:

    Ash maybe even more out of character here. i know that he is more forceful and more hot headed but if you came this far please bare with it. I'm trying to keep him in character as much as possible in the situation I created. For the other characters, I don't know them that well...again I don't watch the current show so I just go by the descriptions on wikipedia or by watching compilations on youtube. So if they are out of character as well...sorry.

    I mentioned this before but I feel it must be said again. The magically appearing medallion and gems is what I like to call anime magic. There is no explanation it just happens. From what I remember there were plenty of times when Team Rocket was on scene and one of their meches would just magically appear out of no where. I even remember Meowth pulling out a remote control out of thin air once for one of their gadgets and its like...ok where were you hiding that? So yeah, I don't know where it hides these things...or do I?


    Chapter 15: The Amazing Rivers!​

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    Meowth finally reached the riverbank to start following it once again. Seeing the river he involuntarily collapsed to his knees with Tatsuo's voice forcing its way into his mind.

    "Vanished," it echoed in his mind as tears started to form at the corner of his eyes. Bidoof's movements rustled through the bushes and was walking upright with a grey satchel that was slung over its shoulder as if it were a human wearing a messenger bag. Meowth quickly straightened himself out, rubbing away any remnants of a possible break down. Knowing full well that his behavior was deplorable in the eyes of other Pokéteers.

    "I see you're coming with me," Meowth muttered, forcing an optimistic tone.

    "You got through it pretty fast too, I only learned a small section. I guess you know your way around this land more than I do." It spoke softly trying to create small talk in order to hide its discomfort. Meowth was hoping to have some time to itself; the whole fake-out with the balloon and the recent news was far too overwhelming to bear. It wasn't ready to restart just yet, it wanted to recollect its thoughts and assess its situation further but the world it lives in was not letting that happen.

    "Bidoof, Bidoof" It said gleefully.

    "Wait up Meowth!" They heard the mini twerp cry out as the rest of the humans rejoined them.

    "How did they get through it so fast?" Its question was answered as it saw a huge contraption strapped to the four-eyed twerp's waist slashing away the vines and other obstacles for the twerps to get through.

    "Can't believe I haven't thought of this sooner!" He laughed at himself, but as they got closer his invention exploded. Everyone coughed as they were gasping for clean air. Bidoof walked behind Meowth causally to create distance between itself and the humans as it contained its cheeky smile.

    "Cough…Cough…I wonder what went wrong." The four-eyed twerp said sadly as he looked at his broken contraption.

    "Cough…Cough…Oh, let me help you with that. I may be just an archeologist but I do know a thing or two about mechanics."

    ***Cough, cough***

    "Well, I guess that's one thing they don't have in common. Every time James decides to take a crack at one of our contraptions he always makes things worse." Meowth thought as it observed the goofy man help the geeky twerp.

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    ***FLASHBACK***

    "All I need to do is put this here…" Meowth mumbled to itself as it was putting together Team Rocket's latest gadget for their next attempt at stealing Pikachu.

    "What's taking you so long?" James came up from behind it.

    "These things take time if you want them to work properly." Meowth shot back to his impatient teammates.

    "Well hurry it up!" Jessie complained, "Time is money and you're wasting it."

    "Wobba, Wobbuffet!" Meowth was growing irritated, to say the least at their constant demands and whining. It ignored them as best as it could to continue working on their latest gadget. It calculated all the possible outcomes and was sure that this time their machine will work, it just had to make a few adjustments to eliminate any possible weaknesses those twerps try to exploit.

    "Here let me finish it." James stepped in as he grabbed a wrench and pushed Meowth out the way.

    "Hey, what are you doing?" Meowth asked franticly as he watched the idiot put two things together that he knew didn't belong.

    ***KABOOM***

    The mecha blew a fuse into their faces as smoke raised out from it.

    ***Cough, cough***

    "YOU IDIOT!" Jessie and Meowth yelled.

    "Wobba!"

    "Now look what you did James!" Jessie shouted.

    "Wobba!"

    "Stick to your bottle caps! Now we're never going to catch Pikachu! No thanks to you!" Meowth added.

    "Wobba!"

    "What!? You're the one who was taking forever!" James shouted back.

    "Wobbuffet!" The trio continued to bicker by throwing random insults at one another, forgetting about the real task at hand as their fight grew way out of proportion.

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    ***Kaa-boom***


    The sound of the contraption exploding again snapped Meowth back to the present as Dr. Idiot made the invention even worse, causing Meowth to smile slightly at the familiar sight.

    "Oh, I'm so sorry! I don't know how that happened." He said frantically as his mannerisms reminded Meowth of a certain young blue-haired man.

    "Wow, you're worse than my brother." The mini twerp criticized. Meowth started to blush as it became aware of the embarrassing thought that crept into its mind. It had enough so it turned away to start following the river down to the mountainous terrain that was further ahead.

    "Bidoof?" It tilted its head questionably before it quickly rejoined its side.

    "Ha, Ha," Ash laughed, "Your invention was great! I'm sure you'll figure it out!" "Pikachu!" He said reassuringly.

    "Pika Pi," Pikachu said to get his attention, pointing towards the two small Pokémon who were walking on ahead.

    "Oh…Hey! Wait up!" He shouted, running towards them with everyone else following right behind them.

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    Bidoof was quiet. It didn't speak much but contained it's implanted cheeky smile as it blissfully walked upright beside Meowth with its grey satchel. Meowth wanted to ask it why it was traveling with him but decided against it. He figured it was best to just let it do what it wants, not to mention he was quite curious to what could be inside its bag. The forest they were in still seemed endless as they followed the river. Up further ahead were mountains that looked like they could stretch on for miles.

    "Vanished?"

    "Bidoof, Bidoof." It tapped Meowth on the shoulder, stopping to point straight ahead. Meowth looked in the direction it was pointing towards curiously.

    "Oh…"

    "What's it saying?" The mini twerp asked as they all stopped as well.

    "Bidoof, Bidoof." It said happily.

    "Uh…the sun likes to shine on the mountains." Meowth translated, not entirely sure why it's saying something so random.

    "You're right, it certainly is a nice view." The twerpete said.

    "Bidoof, Bidoof, Oof, Bidoof." It said as it pointed to Meowth's koban.

    "Uh…o…k." He said, not sure how to respond to that. Satisfied, Bidoof started to walk again with its cheeky smile.

    "What did it say?" The mini twerp asked as everyone paid close attention to it. Meowth scratched the side of his head then looked up at the twerps' curious smiles.

    "More talk about the sun, I guess." He translated softly as he was still mulling it over.

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    ***Grumble***


    Ash felt his stomach growl loudly for everyone to hear.

    "He, he, I guess I can't hide it any longer." He laughed it off.

    "Then let's stop and have some lunch," Serena suggested.

    "That's a great idea," Dr. Pan exclaimed.

    "It will give me more time to examine that medallion." He said, eyeing the scratch cat, "I have so many questions, like how did it lead you out here and why the river?"

    "I don't owe you any explanations!" Meowth snapped and turned away to start following the raging rapids down to the mountainous terrain that was further ahead.

    "Not so fast!" Ash ran in front of Meowth.

    "We're not going anywhere until you eat something that's more filling." He said sternly. Meowth glared at him for obstructing its way once again. He felt a tap on his shoulder; it was Bidoof who held its cheeky smile as it pulled out a sitrus berry from its satchel.

    "Bidoof, Bidoof!" It placed it into Meowth's paws happily. A small grin appeared before turning into a cunning smirk.

    "Problem solved! Sitrus berries are very filling." He said cheekily as both ate their berry happily. He then quickly darted between the twerp's legs.

    "Later Twerp!" It said while continuing on with sits cheeky attitude.

    "Grr…Why You…" He growled as he glared at the escaped scratch cat. Ash suddenly felt a small hand grab his snapping him out of his burning rage and confusion over the small feline.

    "You let it rile you up so easily," Bonnie whispered, reminding him of what she said back at the inn. Ash was still mad but he started to calm down as it was becoming clear that Meowth was indeed trying to stir the pot purposefully. Meowth seems to have the knack for saying the right things to get him boiling mad.

    "Ha, Ha…my that Meowth certainly knows how to make a trip entertaining." Dr. Pan laughed it off.

    "I'm sure when its time to set up camp it will be more willing." He walked up to everyone handing each of them a bag that contained food that was edible while they continued walking.

    "They're just snack mixes, but they are filling enough to hold us till then."

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    The rock walls of the mountains on each side barricaded the forest that they were in. They knew that to be true before they went this way, seeing that the river was flowing through the wide-open gorge. But the walls weren't as apparent traveling through the forest since it was so dense. Bidoof hasn't said a word since its last comment about the sunshine. It just conveniently walked upright with its grey satchel that was filled with mystery. It contained two sitrus berries, but what else was in there? Meowth wondered why it was following him. Did it just dub itself Meowth's newest traveling companion? It was clear by the exchange that it was a Solateer itself, could it be that Bidoof is here in place of Baltoy in case following Team Flare back into town fails?

    "Town…they should be collaborating with each other any minute now." Meowth thought as it looked at the setting sun. "I've been carelessly traveling out in the open thinking our last confrontation was the end of it. Maybe I should travel in the bushes."

    Meowth looked over to the forest edge and saw that it was becoming less dense the further they went. The gorge they were traveling through that contained the dense forest was losing its protection, as the shrubbery on the ground was becoming less. The rock walls themselves seemed to be making their way closer to the center the further they went. Either that or it was just the illusion due to the lack of trees creating a much more open woodsy space verses the dark forest that was becoming miles behind them. The flora was still lush and green, the ground was becoming a mixture of soft grass and rough pebbles as the bank to the river elevated itself slightly. The trail they were following was nice but it was short-lived as they came across three waterways. One of the waterways ended their trail, meaning they would have to cross it; it was low tide so it wasn't too bad. The other two were going straight creating a V-shape as they branched out in different directions. They were at the rim of the gorge, the wall on the other side became a soft hill covered in the grass while the one on their side remained rock solid. It ended abruptly due to the low tide river cutting through with rock walls surrounding that path on both sides. The mountainous trails were ahead of them as they stood in the small meadow that was bordered by the rivers. Taking in their surroundings, it was very open with plenty of space for camp.

    "It's getting late," Clemont stated, "Why don't we set up camp here for the night."

    "Yes! Finally!" "De, De!" Bonnie cheered.

    "Meowth we picked out some fruit for you. You can also have the cookies we made for you too! You'll try them now won't you?" She said as she got up close to the two Pokémon. Bidoof moved away slightly behind Meowth as it felt its space was being invaded but still kept its smile. Meowth didn't respond, he remained quiet as he kept a blank stare. He didn't want to say for his response would be the same and he didn't want to cause another upheaval.

    "Well?" The mini twerp stepped closer, "Will you?" She was cheerfully hopeful as the other twerps observed quietly. Meowth remained silent as it started to clench its fists then looking away towards the river.

    "Bi?" It titled its head.

    "Bonnie," Clemont calmly began.

    "Bidoof, we have plenty for you too!" She continued.

    "Biii" It mumbled as it tilted its head the other way.

    "Oh, you're so cute!" She exclaimed as she reached out to pet it. As her hand got closer Bidoof bit her hard.

    "Owww!" She cried out in pain as Bidoof created more distance between them.

    "Bonnie!" Clemont yelled out as he ran to her side to treat her wound while all the humans gathered around.

    "Bonnie are you ok?" Serena sincerely asked.

    "Bonnie you're too outgoing," Clemont told his weeping sister calmly. "It can make some Pokémon feel uncomfortable."

    "But I'm just trying to be your friend," Bonnie said sympathetically as she looked to the quiet Pokémon. Meowth mumbled a little but it was inaudible to them to understand. It then sighed as it turned around and started to head towards the river's edge that was further down with Bidoof closely following it.

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    Everyone called out their Pokémon and settled themselves on the grassy field that bordered the rivers with dinner being cooked over the fire as Serena began to slice up some fruit that was picked earlier for the Pokémon since there was plenty for everyone. Meowth didn't bother with the twerps' Pokémon as it was standing by the edge of the river that interfered with its path, observing each river's flow.

    "Follow the flow." It felt that it had to go into the mountains and the one blocking their path was heading east and looked like it would dry up further down. Luckily only one of the two rivers that were heading straight was flowing in the right direction. At the corner of its eye, it thought it saw a twinkle in the far distance. It turned to face the low tide river and started to walk down that direction away from camp. Low rock walls bordered the other side while the side Meowth was on was still lush with plant life. In the distance, it saw that the mountain range stretched out for miles in that direction as well, but it would have to continue traveling on the narrow path that was bordered by the remaining forest. There wasn't much of it left except it had its thick canopy at the top and the rock wall that bordered it wasn't too far. Reaching the canyon's wall was the end of the forest and the start of the mountains in this direction. Bidoof rejoined his side to walk beside him since it was clear Bidoof didn't like humans at all, a common opinion among most Pokéteers.

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    Serena just finished prepping and started calling over the Pokémon to hand over their snack.

    "Where are Meowth and Bidoof?" Bonnie sadly asked.

    "Pika Pi." Pikachu pointed towards the path that followed the low tide river.

    "Of course it is," Ash muttered frustratingly. Ash and Bonnie both grabbed a plate to bring to the missing Pokémon as they went down the same path. Turns out, they were just around the corner and they were out of sight due to the trees blocking their view.

    "Bidoof, Bidoof." They heard it say as it pointed up to a tree. Meowth looked up then back at Bidoof.

    "Bidoof, Oof." It rubbed its tummy. Meowth looked at it for a brief second before jumping up onto a branch that was at least over five feet high. It climbed the tree the branch was connected to at a high speed reaching another branch. It jumped up onto a higher branch causing it to disappear from their sights.

    "Meowth?" Ash called out, slightly worried about what may have happened. Meowth suddenly reappeared as it jumped back down landing in front of them and Bidoof. It was carrying a big round green thing in its paws and handed it over to Bidoof who cheered in appreciation.

    "That was amazing!" He exclaimed.

    "Once you're healthy again you can learn a new move. I'm sure with your speed and my skills as a trainer we can come up with some awesome battle moves." He said with vigor as the fire of competition burned strongly within his eyes. Meowth sat down in its place as if it were a human doll with its hind legs stretched out, mostly due to feeling dizzy because of its latest dynamic stunt. It rubbed its head for a minute before looking up at the twerp with a sour expression.

    "How many times do I have to tell you, I can't learn any moves because of my ability to talk." It said frustratingly.

    "What? That's not true!" He said as he bent down next to it with the plate of fruit in hand.

    "If I remember correctly weren't you trying to learn night slash at one point? I can help you with that if you let me."

    "Hmm…maybe I should let you train me before I return to Team Rocket." An evil smirk appeared.

    "Backstabbing you in Unova was fun by letting you train me would make an act of betrayal even better." The sound of a teapot went off somewhere as volcanoes began to erupt, as Ash was ready to let loose on the little Pokémon that irritated him so much. Ash then felt Bonnie grab his shoulder, reminding him of what she said earlier. He quickly cooled off but that didn't stop his hard glare. Meowth seemed quite content with itself for saying that as it had its arms crossed over its chest and a smug grin to complete its satisfied impression.

    Ash squeezed the plate in his hand, "I'm not going to let you win." He declared.

    "I brought you some fruit, it was because of Bonnie and Noivern that we have so much. They did it for you, you should thank them when you're done." He said as calmly as he could with his anger still lingering from Meowth's latest remark. He placed the plate in front of Meowth causing it to glare at him.

    "Your little reign of manipulating me ends now." Ash thought as he contained a playful grin. He reached out to pet it but was batted away by a clearly aggravated Meowth resulting in Ash chuckling at its behavior.

    "Here you go Bidoof, we have plenty for you too," Bonnie said happily, Bidoof was content with chewing at the hard green shell of what Meowth brought down. It got up and moved away from her by sitting behind Meowth.

    "Meowth, tell Bidoof that it's alright. It can have as much as it wants."

    "Uh…I suggest you drop it, mini twerp." Meowth said causally.

    "Bidoof." It concurred as it continued to chew threw the hard shell.

    "But I'm just trying to be its friend." She countered.

    "Not all Pokémon wish to be friends with humans. Let it go." It said uncaringly. It then looked up to see a very sad little girl.

    "It's not you, a lot of Pokémon don't like humans."

    "But you like humans, right?" She asked hopefully. Meowth's hard glance softened slightly as it answered her honestly.

    "I don't mind humans, some are cruel, and some are kind. You twerps tend to be narrow-minded but I will say this, an organization like Team Rocket doesn't exist to separate the cruel from the kind, there are just as many cruel humans who are not associated with any organization." It then turned to face the direction of where it thought it saw a sparkle in the corner of its eye. It was too dark to see anything in that direction, but nonetheless, Meowth was done talking to the twerps.

    "Pika Pi!" Pikachu along with Pancham, Bunnelby and a few other Pokémon joined them. Pikachu jumped on Ash as the other Pokémon surrounded them. Meowth ignored the commotion that was beginning to surround him as Pancham along with Bunnelby, Pikachu and a few other Pokémon started to try to make conversation with Bidoof as well as the scratch cat. Meowth started to feel its eye twitching. It didn't want to be bothered anymore and got up and turned to walk away into the forest.

    "Hey! Where are you going?" Ash asked. "You need to eat something."

    "I'm not hungry!" It growled, with its back turned to them. It then jumped up into the trees and disappeared once again with Bidoof waddling past Ash to hide in the bushes underneath the trees with the treat that Meowth provided in hand.

    "Wait! Come Back! You can talk to me…Meowth…Meowth!"

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    Meowth reappeared in the middle of the night when everyone was asleep. It sat at the edge of the low tide river, which was more like a creek than an actual river. It looked up at the moon that wasn't as full anymore as it listened to the babbling brook and the pitter-patter that came behind it. Bidoof waddled its way out of the bushes and sat right beside him while not saying a word. He had that dream again. The one that showed him the snow-covered mountains that were in the distance as he walked into a cave that led him to the unknown as the sound of the ticking clock echoed throughout the walls of the cave. But that wasn't the only thing that bothered him, agents from other organizations met with Team Flare and they were going to speak on his behalf…wishful thinking at its best. Can Team Solaris be trusted? Their allies own the museum…but who could they be? That Tatsuo had some nerve to say those horrible things about Team Rocket, but Meowth couldn't help but think about the shadow man that appeared in his place.

    "Listen to them!" Baltoy whispered to him when it happened, but to whom? Why would he think of the creature that haunts his nightmares when Team Flare confronted him?

    "Hey," Meowth muttered, "Do you know who will be there when Team Flare gets there?" Bidoof didn't answer as it sat happily next to him, staring at the running water.

    "What's your deal? You've been following me but you haven't said much of anything."

    "Bi, Bidoof, Bidoof, Oof, Bidoof, Doof, Bi, Bi, Bidoof." (You're a Pokéteer like me, it's a joyous role filled with liberties with no chains to bind us down. The work I do for Team Solaris always fills me with pride and joy. I'm sure the work you do for Team Rocket makes you feel the same way. I mean you're the "Top Cat", there's nothing you can't do. Team Rocket is truly blessed to have a Rocketeer like you.) It said filled with sincerity.

    "I'm not the 'Top Cat' you heard about anymore," Meowth muttered quietly as Bidoof continued to stare at the moon with a listening ear.

    "The boss has a new 'Top Cat' now, it's that stupid Persian and it's not even a Rocketeer. I only failed once but once was enough to shove me to the side, dubbing me as weak and unfit. I had the power in my paws with riches and glory at my disposal. Every Team Rocket agent wanted me by his or her side when I was at the top. Everything has its price and being the Top Cat was no exception." Meowth paused. "When you're weak, your not as blind to the ugly truths in this world." Meowth stopped as its emotions started to jumble up.

    "I know my dependency on Jessie and James may anger Pokéteers like you and Baltoy but I can't help it. I like being with Jessie and James, they're all I've got. I know your mission probably has nothing to do with guiding me, but I don't know what I'm doing. I don't even know where I'm going. I'm just following a clue that said 'follow the flow', that's why I'm following the river, but I don't know where it's taking me. Do you know? Do you know what Baltoy meant by 'listening to them'? Do you know what significance these mountains hold?" Meowth asked as it cried out its frustration.

    Bidoof was silent as it listened to Meowth's plight. Meowth was hoping that maybe this time it could get some answers. Or to at least hear from someone else who understands its dilemma and say that everything was going to be okay. Jessie and James were idiots but they were always able to put its fears to rest just by being there. Reassuring it that their team will always pull through no matter what. Meowth turned to look at Bidoof only to stumble onto the fact that Bidoof was fast asleep.

    "SERIOUSLY!?"

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    It was daybreak as Meowth stayed awake, while Bidoof was sound asleep. It sighed, "Another night with no sleep."

    It sighed again, "I'm so bored. If I can't sleep then there's got to be something I can do."

    Meowth looked at its surroundings and saw a few boulders that were above the water's surface. It then jumped onto one of the larger ones that were in the middle of the low-tide river. It smirked at itself for such an easy jump, then it hopped over to one that was close to it. The water was flowing eastward into the sunlight so Meowth figured it might as well playfully hop in that direction. It hopped over to another rock and then another and another. It then landed on a much smaller rock with one foot, with all its might it pushed off of it hard while doing a somersault in the air landing on a large boulder that was close to the bank of the river but was a little further down from where Bidoof was sleeping. Meowth smirked at itself for such an easy feat while a sparkle amidst the sunlight caught its eye.

    "Whoa!" It heard from behind it, the sunlight bounced off of Meowth's koban as it turned to see the twerp who was alone, looking at it with a warm mug in hand.

    "I can't believe you can do that on an empty stomach!" He said enthusiastically. He walked up closer to the boulder that Meowth was standing on, which brought Meowth to waist level.

    With solemn eyes, he extended the warm mug, "This is for you, Saul said that the herbs in it will help you regain your appetite."

    "Saul?" Meowth mumbled as its mind distanced itself from the present, making it think about the facts that Saul was a member of Team Solaris.

    "Could he have met with Team Flare last night?"

    "Meowth…" Meowth snapped its attention back onto the twerp who contained his solemn expression. "There was a note inside the little packet saying 'Healthy by day, calming by night,' so I guess you're supposed to have a cup at night as well. I should have given this to you instead but I forgot about it. When you collapsed like that…I was so worried…I thought…that." He started to choke on a few of his words as the lid of his hat overshadowed his tearful eyes.

    Meowth sat down in a doll-like position, "Stop your crying twerp, I'll try it." It said halfheartedly.

    The twerp lit up to the news as he energetically handed over the mug to a reluctant Meowth. He then had the audacity to hop on to the boulder and sit next to it, blocking its view of the mountains that can be seen stretching for miles.

    "Scoot over, I need more space than you." He said happily, annoying Meowth even further not wanting to look at his overly excited face.

    "Maybe if I…" Ash thought as he reached over with the intention of picking it up since the boulder was rather small and not enough space for him.

    "Don't even think about It," Meowth said darkly in an aggravated tone. Ash's happiness was close to deteriorating but remembered to not let it rile him up so easily, instead, he reached over to pet in on the head.

    "Do it and I throw this mug in your face," Meowth growled. Ash backed off with a small chuckle as he observed it sniffing the contents before taking a sip like a human. He smiled inwardly as he turned to look at the swaying trees, listening to the wind rustle in the leaves and the babbling brook that splashed roughly against the boulders including the one they were sitting on.

    "Maybe Noivern could look for some more fruit for you, Chespin ate it all when we weren't looking."

    "I'm not interested, there are sitrus berries up in the canopy. I will have one of them."

    "Why just one, you need more than that."

    "Sitrus berries are very filling and restore energy, eating too many would make one sick."

    "Huh...you certainly know a lot about berries."

    "It's nature twerp. Pokémon are apart of nature. I am a Pokémon and that makes me apart of nature so of course, I would know a thing or two about my natural surroundings."

    "You're right…you are a Pokémon and I'm a Pokémon trainer. You know you could learn a thing or two from me." He said playfully as he tugged on its ear. He then started to rub its ear, feeling the texture of its fur, allowing himself to let it register on how it feels.

    "Wow…you're really soft." He exclaimed. The half-empty mug's bottom shattered as if the sound of a teapot going off could be heard in the distance.

    "GET OFF OF ME!" It screamed as flames burned in its eyes as if its body was engulfed in flames of hot rage.

    "THAT'S IT, YOU'RE BANNED FROM THE BOULDER NOW GET OFF! GET OFF! GET OFF! GET OFF!" It screamed as it tried to push Ash off, which wasn't very effective since Ash was much bigger than the enflamed scratch cat.

    "Ha, Ha!" Ash laughed at the ridiculous behavior as a wide toothy grin embraced his features as he proceeded to tease it more.

    "You know what, I should start treating you more like a Pokémon, not a criminal." He instigated it by reaching over to pet it on its head, succeeding this time, as it was too preoccupied with pushing him off.

    "Amazing, I always thought you would be mangy but you're softer than Pikachu." He stated. It was as if a volcano erupted as Meowth's enflamed body exploded into a flamethrower. Ash was shocked as he felt the full force of what felt like a hard tackle. Meowth succeded in pushing him off the boulder as he looked up in surprise.

    "JUST YOU WAIT TWERP! TEAM ROCKET IS GOING TO SMITE YOU SO BAD THAT EVERYTHING IN THE PAST WOULD BE NOTHING COMPARED TO THE RATH OF ALL OF TEAM ROCKET! WE WILL DESTROY EVERYTHING YOU HOLD DEAR AND YOUR Pokémon WILL NEVER SEE THE LIGHT OF DAY AGAIN!" It shouted with all the venom it had to muster into its most vile threat.

    The sounds of the thrashing rapids from the rivers that were nearby and Meowth's shouting filled the air waking everyone up. Meowth went too far with its threat this time, setting Ash over the edge with his own rage but quickly tried to calm himself down, reminding himself that its threats were nothing more than attempts to push everyone away. That its behavior right now was nothing more than a tantrum; it's all rather laughable now realizing the hidden agenda behind its antics. Acknowledging Meowth's threats were empty only reaffirmed his new goal. That one day he will catch Meowth.

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    "Pi, Pi, Pi, Pi" Ash heard Pikachu come charging at them with its target in view, it clearly heard what Meowth said as did Greninja who came charging in as well. "Pi-Kachuuu!" It used Thunderbolt aiming it directly towards Meowth.

    "NO WAIT! STOP PIKACHU!" Ash demanded, stepping in to take the attack himself causing Pikachu to stop.

    "Pika Pi!" It shouted worryingly as it rushed over to its friend's side, as did Greninja along with Ash's other Pokémon who just flew in onto the scene to see if their friend was all right.

    "Thank you, Pikachu," Meowth said menacingly, "You just gave me the purr-fect plan on how to annihilate you all." The Pokémon started to growl furiously as Greninja got ready to use cut on the scratch cat Pokémon.

    "STOP! STOP! All Of You Stop!" Ash shouted, trying to calm his anger once again.

    "Team Rocket will never Stop!" Meowth declared. "I will make sure of it! No matter where you go we will find you. We will keep coming after your Pokémon. We will steal every last one!" Ash quickly pacified the enraged Pokémon while trying to maintain his own rage. He maintained his phlegmatic demeanor as he turned to Meowth who seemed rather proud of itself. As it studied his calm expression its smug smile soon disappeared, it glared at Ash as it stomped its paw hard on to the boulder.

    "You're so annoying!" It shouted frustratingly, as it jumped over the crowd and made its way up the trees disappearing into the canopy.

    "As much as you anger me with your threats, I'm not going to let you win!" Ash thought as he glared in the direction that Meowth disappeared in.

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    Meowth came back down as everyone gathered at their campsite. Bidoof asked for it to bring down some of those delectable nuts that were up in the canopy. Meowth brought some down along with some sitrus berries as well.

    "Bidoof, Oof." (Sitrus berries go great with these nuts.) Bidoof said cheerfully as it handed one of the nuts to Meowth to taste the combination for himself. He tried it and his eyes widen in delight at the delicious taste.

    "Yummy." He said with great pleasure.

    "Bidoof, Oof, Bidoof." (Now its time to do what I came here for.) It said as it got up with its grey satchel that was slung over its shoulder. Meowth's curiosity fluttered at that statement.

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    "You're surprisingly calm." Clemont noted, "We were able to hear parts of what Meowth said."

    "It's all thanks to Bonnie that I'm able to not let it bother me so much anymore. Let's just say Meowth will no longer have the power to instigate our fights from now on." He said happily as he patted the little girl's head.

    "I'm so happy for you Ash," Serena stated cheerfully.

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    The river started to run dry much like the first one that Meowth followed. The forest lost its denseness the closer they got to the rock wall that bordered the forest and the elevation in the land started to form small hills on their side. A twinkle appeared up ahead by the snow cover mountaintops that were so far away, causing Meowth's fur to rise slightly as the sensation vibrated its body.

    "Bidoof, Bidoof." (We're here.) It stopped as it turned to face an opening in one of the hills. A Dwebble appeared, giving the indication that they can enter. They followed the Dwebble into the dark bunker that was more like a mineshaft. It was barely lit by the remaining lanterns and there were crystals and quartz the deeper they went into the damp underground of the tunnel. There were many little holes on the sides and on the ground caused by the Diglett and Dugtrio that they saw passing by every so often. They reached the main shaft of the bunker, which was brightly lit and contained crates filled with food supplies and hiking gear for humans. Bidoof then opened up its grey satchel to dump out the contents, revealing it was carrying gems and other rare stones.

    "Dwebble!" It shouted. The ground started to shake as Diglett popped out of the ground taking the gems and rare stones with them.

    "Dwebble, Ebble." (Thank you for your hard work.)

    "Bidoof, Oof, Bidoof." (It was my pleasure.) They said to each other as they both performed the Pokéteer pledge to one another. They then turned to Meowth to explain.

    "Bidoof, Oof, Bi, Bi, Bidoof, Oof." (Team Solaris helps Team Oyama when needed and they do the same. Dwebble is an Oyateer and this bunker belongs to Team Oyama. One of their main operations is to collect gems, artifacts and rare stones for the museums. Oyateers are stationed all around the mountains to make sure no one can get through without a hiker from Team Oyama. Because of this, they are the only ones able to supply the museums. They sell the stones to the museum then steal it back then resell it to the museum that they stole it from. This operation has been successful for many years since the Xenos are to slow to realize anything.)

    "Dwebble!" (That's right!) It said filled with pride for its own team.

    "NO WAY!" Meowth exclaimed in pure astonishment.

    "That's the most amazing SS&S scheme I have ever heard," Meowth exclaimed admiring their work.

    "Sell, Steal, and Sell again: The SS&S is one of the best classics in the world!" He said in total bliss as he continued to let the perfect scheme sink in, absorbing all the badness as stars of complete admiration filled his eyes.

    "The classics will always have a special place in my heart. The SS&S is truly one of my favorites." He sighed blissfully.

    "So this is what you guys usually do, Baltoy told me you do a lot of work for each other. I really envy you, I wish Team Rocket was this open with other teams. We would be more successful if we did." He spoke with a whole lot of sincerity. He then pulled out come quartz and pearls.

    "Here! This is what I took from the Laurel Museum! Considered it my donation for all your help."

    "Bi!" "Dwebble!" They exclaimed happily as they both clapped and gave their praises at a job well done.

    "Dwebble, Dwebble!" (You're a natural!)

    "Meowth, That's Riiight! Ha, Ha!" He laughed with them.

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    Bidoof had more to do with the Oyateer so it wasn't going to travel with Meowth anymore, but that didn't stop it from leading him out of the bunker along with Dwebble. The light shined brightly on them as they exited and saw the dried-up riverbed.

    "Bidoof, Bidoof." (Your eyes are blue like water.) It said happily as it pointed to Meowth's eyes and then to the dried-up river.

    "Bidoof, Oof, Bi, Bi, Bidoof, Bidoof." (The water in the river flows because it always knows where it's going.) A twinkle appeared in the corner of his eye causing him to turn to the mountains covered in snow that were so far away.

    "Bi, Bi, Bidoof, Oof, Bidoof, Oof, Bi, Bidoof, Oof, Oof, Oof!" (A pet wouldn't be out here all on its own, they are weak…they lost their natural instincts to survive on their own. You are a Rocketeer and you are still the "Top Cat". If you weren't you wouldn't be out here. You kept going even when it got tough and will keep going till you find your friends. Your eyes tell me that you know where you're going; they show me the light that is within your heart. Follow the flow with your heart, Rocket. There's nothing that we Pokéteers can't do!)

    Meowth was flabbergasted as Bidoof revealed it was indeed listening to his troubles last night. Its warm peaceful energy was so inviting that it made Meowth really sad to have to see it go. He was going to be on his own for real now, but walking towards the snow-capped mountains would take forever. They were so far away that they might as well be in another region. He started to think about the dreams he's been having and what Baltoy said, that may be going towards them is not the way but to keep them in his sights was. Bidoof reached out and grabbed Meowth's paw to regain his attention.

    "Bidoof, Oof, Oof, Oof." (I wish you the best of luck. May the sunshine bring you warmth as you continue on your journey.) It said with the utmost sincerity that one could muster.

    "Dwebble, Dwe, Dwebble, Ebble." (Good luck, be unwavering like the mountains in the wind.) Dwebble placed its pincher on top of Bidoof's paw while placing the other pincer over its heart as Bidoof did the same. Meowth felt their strong energy warm him up. The sincerity in their eyes sparkled brightly as Meowth couldn't contain his own smile. It's been a while since he felt like this. Meowth returned the favor as he placed a paw over his own heart as well. They parted ways as Meowth waved goodbye, heading back to the fork in the rivers.

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    It was sad about parting ways with such a kindhearted soul that it almost didn't want to leave, but it knew it had a mission of its own that it needed to fulfill. It pondered over the clue in its mind once again:

    Follow the flow and stay close. But beware; the flow of energy can be blocked causing it to scatter. The mountains will be high and the path will take you low, keep the sacred mountains close to your family as you listen to the voices of the stars reveal to you the secret of time.

    Meowth was thinking that maybe there was a different path it should take in order to keep following the flow of the rivers. It got lost in its thoughts as it looked to the other side as the riverbed started to become an actual waterway once more.

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    The gang cleaned up camp and called back all their Pokémon then walked around the corner to where Meowth and Bidoof were.

    "Oh no, where do you think they could have gone?" Dr. Pan asked worryingly.

    "Maybe they are just a little further down," Clemont suggested. They continued to walk this way until a small feline reappeared and it was heading their way.

    "Hey! Wait for us!" Bonnie shouted. It appeared to not have heard her. It then started to hop its way across the river. They speeded up their pace to catch up.

    "Meowth Stop!" Clemont shouted.

    Meowth was zoned in on his new idea. He saw a trail on the other side of the river and it was going upwards. He remembered the one dream he would always have, the one that had a trail that would go up on the side of the mountains then down. This trail, however, didn't feel right, it went up but it bordered the river he was currently following. The river up ahead seemed more promising. He should go back to the fork in the rivers, that sounded like a good plan. He looked back at the mountains that have been on his mind as another twinkle appeared, sending that odd sensation down his spine once again.

    ***Click, Clack, Click, Clack***

    The sound of footsteps running towards him caused Meowth to snap out of his daze as he looked up to see the twerps and Dr. Idiot. They just hopped across themselves, but it looked like it was more difficult for them seeing that some of them were wet. The water level was low here for humans so Meowth assumed that some of them may have given up on hopping across and walked through it instead.

    "We were calling out to you. Didn't you hear us?" Bonnie asked. Meowth shook its head no with a blank expression.

    "Where did that Bidoof go?" Ash asked.

    "I don't have to answer to you." It snapped.

    "It was just a simple question. What's wrong with a little small talk?"

    "I don't care for small talk." Dr. Pan was humming a happy tune as he was drawing out his new map. Making notes of the river, the forest and how the mountains also extended out in ways that no map has recorded.

    "This is the most thrilling adventure I have ever been on. Meowth, why not keep going this way? Is there anything interesting down there?" He kept rambling on with his questions; Meowth rolled its eyes before it continued walking.

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    They returned to the area where they had camp but were now on the other side of the river. Meowth ignored Ash and his friends the whole way. Luckily the river it decided to follow didn't require anymore crossing. They walked alongside the bank, which was high from the water's surface. There were a few trees but the terrain was uneven while the hills were green in color due to the grass. There were some flowers, trees, and shrubs but the further they went the less flora there was as the scenery started to change into rocks, rock walls and very little shrubbery that was dry. One could only imagine that Meowth's attitude was rubbing them the wrong way, meanwhile, Dr. Pan was just as happy-go-lucky as ever drawing up the map of this phenomenon and how endless it seems. When someone would ask Meowth a question it would ignore him or her deliberately. On rare occasions they would get a verbal response, Meowth would say:

    "Huh?" or "What?"

    Most likely because it wasn't paying any attention and was somewhere lost in its own mind. After a one-worded response, Meowth would follow it up with a snide comment.

    Meowth was focused on finding the path that existed in his dreams. Whether it was real or not lingered which each step that he took. While the twerps meant well traveling with them with no end in sight was a nightmare. He didn't want them there and being nice to them backfired. Since no one like Baltoy or Bidoof will be keeping him company anymore he has to up the ante. They are enemies after all and it's going to stay that way.

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    It was barely the afternoon when Ash's stomach began to growl. "He, He," Ash laughed it off bashfully.

    "The scenery is nice why don't we stop for a quick lunch," Serena suggested.

    Meowth was focusing on the mountains ahead and every so often the snow-covered mountains that were east of it. There were hills and trees but every so often they were visible for him to see them. He has to find Jessie and James now more than ever. The idea that they disappeared without a trace was disturbing, to say the least. Suddenly a strong force grabbed him by the arm, he jumped slightly as he snapped out of his daze. Out of fear he turned around and scratch the perpetrator in the face.

    "Ahh!" Ash screamed in pain. "Pika!"

    "It's your fault! You shouldn't have scared me like that!" Meowth countered.

    "Scared you? We've been calling out to you this whole time!" Ash retorted.

    "Oh…well I didn't hear you." It spoke dryly then turned back around to continue but was stopped again.

    "What Now!" Blue irises that were filled with anger, frustration and agony stared back into brown eyes that held a hard glare as the beholder of those eyes had enough of the rude attitude. They softened however as a spark seemed to emanate within the sapphire eyes. A little spark that was covered in all the darkness that was swirling around…it was still fighting. Ash took a deep breath and exhaled to relax his nerves, holding back his response and letting it go in the process. Meowth wasn't entirely sure what the twerp's problem was just now but he didn't really care. He picked up where he left off to continue moving forward.

    "Ash?" Serena questioned.

    "I think it might be best if we keep going for now." He said.

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    Finally, the path that was similar to the one in his dreams appeared as the feeling of déjà vu hit him like a ton of bricks. It was heading upwards away from the river, but that was okay he knew that this has to be the way.

    "Are we seriously going to be climbing that!?" Bonnie whined seeing Meowth wander away from the side of the river who then turned to look at her curiously.

    "I'm so tired…can't we stop for the day?"

    "It is starting to get late." Clemont pointed out since the sun was starting to set. Meowth then turned back around to continue but a strong force grabbed its small shoulder. It was forceful but it held a gentle touch this time as Meowth turned to face the twerp. Meowth was annoyed as it stared up at the twerp who was also annoyed with the feeling of concern circulating with other emotions in his brown eyes. They stood there staring at each other in silence as the sun threatened to end the day.

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    Author notes:

    Out of all the characters from the anime Meowth is obviously the most out of character. The reasons are clear as to why so the reason to the stealing in this chapter and the quick exchange in the last chapter was what I like to call a shout out to the Meowth that we know and love. There was reason why I made a note in the chapter during the scavenger hunt stating that it noticed rare items in the box near the vase. The Meowth we all know and love still exists and will steal when given the opportunity. Its the stressful situation that its in that has caused it to shut down. Meowth was always adaptable in my opinion so the situation its in right now is putting that to the test. It may seem like its failing at adapting but that is up to you for the reader to decide. Adapting to a situation is seen differently to each and every person. Some may think its trying while others say its not. So the real question is do you consider silence as a way to adapt or is it just shutting down?
    Chapter 16
    Author notes:

    Ash maybe out of character here as well, apparently he is smarter in the XYZ series from what I hear. Again I left around advanced generation and I have seen a few recent clips here or there but the Ash I'm writing is the one I remember from advanced generation. He's smart and has become more mature with his experience but still has a hot headed temper and occasional idiot moments.

    Updated note:

    The Amazing Saga will be long and boring...it will be repetitive, you will get frustrated, you will get annoyed...if you make it all the way through kudos to you. This section was going to be longer with more conversations but ended up getting cut short or cut out altogether. The reason being why these chapters shall be repetitive is because that is what the characters are going through every second of every day...they are always feeling annoyed with no breaks in between...the same conversation that leads into the same agrument...groups of people and Pokémon stuck together in mountains for who knows how long...it could be weeks or even months...the fact that no one gets sent to distortion world is a miracle...then again it could be bad writing on my part and I am being biased ;)


    Chapter 16: The Amazing Mountains and their Restless Quarrels!​

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    The Pokémon were out and the camp was set up. The twerps were preparing everyone's meals and Meowth was trying to stay far away from them as possible. The path Meowth wanted to take was going upward and was bordered by the rising rock wall. The river would keep going and it looked like it was heading for another canyon. With the way the land has been that could only mean the river was going to split again. However, he felt that he should let go of the idea of constantly following the river so closely. That maybe the flow could be followed another way. The path in his dreams would take him higher. It felt right to go higher. Meowth was daydreaming as he sat in the short cork oak tree; the semi-dried up green leaves hid him nicely. It was one of the few trees in the area by the edge of the river with a large boulder by its side. Out of all of the trees, this one was the furthest away.

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    "Is that from Saul?" Bonnie asked. Ash nodded as he began to stir the mixture.

    "Let's give it our cookies." She motioned to Serena to bring them out.

    "Bonnie, while your intentions are good I think we should tread carefully. All of us crowding around it might be too much for it." Serena said with a sense of rationality.

    "What do you mean?" Bonnie questioned.

    "It's what Saul said, Pokémon are very sensitive creatures and when unexpected changes occur its often very normal for Pokémon to naturally shut down."

    "So what can we do?"

    "Just by being around, we are letting Meowth know that we are here for it," Serena said passionately as she watched Ash walk away from the group to Meowth's hiding place.

    "Little by little Meowth will revitalize itself. As long as time is on our side we can help it but that all depends on Meowth. We can't do anything if it remains distant but we can't force it either." She said as she watched Ash close in on Meowth who was sitting in a tree that was the furthest away. Majority of the Pokémon glanced over at the scene that was about to unfold as they too kept their distance. Some tried to get closer but seconded guessed their actions thinking that it would be best not to. Others were not so tolerant as they kept their distance. They were waiting for the scratch cat to make a move, for Ash or the others to give the order to send the little nuisance blasting off once again. Clemont was working on his latest gadget while Dr. Pan was looking over his previous notes. Every so often Dr. Pan would glance over in the direction of Meowth as if he were trying to solve the mystery that the scratch cat was engulfed by with the help of his notes and knowledge of the ancient worlds.

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    Ash reached the tree that Meowth was in; looking up he could see the cream-colored fur that was visible between the leaves. It wasn't a very lushes tree but Meowth managed to find the perfect spot that hid it the best.

    "Meowth!" Ash called out only to receive silence. "Meowth, come down here."

    The mug was hot and full for a Meowth who was deliberately ignoring him. Obviously, there was only one other option: climb the tree. Unfortunately, Ash was alone and too stubborn to ask for help at this point. A thick branch was in arms reach and he placed the mug on it so he could climb up. He then picked up the mug and placed it a little above him. He started to climb the trunk of the tree with great difficulty as he reached for the mug and placed it a little higher. He then placed the mug on a higher branch that was just below Meowth and then proceeded to grab the branch himself. His poor judgment of the branch led to his downfall for it couldn't hold his weight and broke with him falling hard to the ground.

    ***Thud***

    The sound of something heavy hitting the ground and the sound of something ceramic breaking caught Meowth's attention. It was dozing off due to how tired it was, not realizing it until the surprise alarm clock. Meowth looked down to see it was the twerp who was on his back knocked unconscious with Pikachu and a few of his other Pokémon surrounding him.

    "What's going on?"

    Ash quickly came too and noticed the broken mug. "It broke." Ash sadly mumbled to himself.

    "What were you doing?" Meowth asked monotonously as it was now on the first branch that Ash started on while looking at him curiously. Ash looked up only to be greeted with emotionless eyes. Ash shook off the fall and got up.

    "That herbal remedy from Saul, I made some for you but yo…"

    "Oh I see, that branch broke off." Meowth interrupted Ash as it pieced together what happened.

    "So that's what I heard." Its voice was as emotionless as its blue eyes as it observed its surroundings.

    "Wait!" Ash exclaimed as Meowth was about to jump back up to its original spot. It turned to look back at him with its hollow expression. "Just come back with me and I will make you another cup."

    "No."

    "Seriously!? Join us, there's no need for you to be so distant." Meowth looked at the few Pokémon, in particular, Pikachu, Greninja and a few others who were still not too thrilled by its presence. It then sighed.

    "I like it here. Dealing with you twerps is a tiresome feat in itself. I just want to be left alone." It spoke calmly but it slowly turned into a whine as it summed up its frustrations.

    Ash sighed, "Fine," he mumbled, "Just stay right there, I'll be right back." He wasn't going to back down just yet as he dashed away with a mission of his own.

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    Pikachu stayed to make sure Meowth didn't return to its higher spot as they watched the twerp return in a short amount of time with a new hot mug in hand. Meowth was dozing off once again but quickly straightened itself out as it heard the twerp's footsteps against the gravel come closer. Pikachu jumped onto the twerp's shoulder as he gave a welcoming smile.

    "Would you at least come down?" He motioned to the boulder that was big enough for both of them. Meowth followed through and reluctantly sat next to him as well as taking the mug that contained the herbs that hopefully will be the answer to its lost appetite. Meowth smelled the cinnamon and ginger that came from the substance among other scents such as lavender before taking a sip like a human. It was thick with a few pieces of dried up vegetables and other ingredients. It was soothing to the pallet with the ability to refresh him. It wasn't the optimum way of refueling one's body but it did the trick as Meowth felt itself revitalize as its starving body was regaining the nutrition it so desperately needed. Ash smiled inwardly as he petted Pikachu in his lap.

    "Dinner will be ready soon and I still have those cookies from Clio. We could finish them together and maybe tomorrow we…"

    "Shut…up," Meowth mumbled frustratingly as it took one last sip from its soup in a cup, then placed the half-empty mug down. Ash took a deep breath to calm himself down before responding.

    "You should finish it, I'm sure it would work better if you drank the whole thing." He spoke calmly. Meowth responded to that notion by throwing the mug across the raging river. It smashed against a rock that was in the middle of it.

    "That was unnecessary!" Ash shouted angrily.

    "PIKA! Pika Pi, Pikachu, Pi, Pikachu!" It yelled, Meowth stood up with its back turned to them ready to go back to its original hiding place for the night but was stopped as the twerp reached out and grabbed it by its small shoulder.

    "No…you're not going anywhere." He said sternly, Meowth turned around and tried to scratch him but the twerp stopped it by grabbing its swiping paw by the arm. Meowth was taken off guard by his action but quickly regained its composer by putting all of its strength into head butting the twerp in the face causing him to let go.

    "Ow!" Ash cried out in pain.

    "PIKA-CHUUUU!" It shouted as it shot out its thunderbolt attack. Meowth dodged it and jumped up onto the lower branch of the tree to make its way up to its original hiding place. But Greninja wasn't going to have it anymore as it jumped up and stretched out its tongue to grab the disobedient Pokémon, bringing it back down to the ground.

    "LET ME GO! I DIDN'T DO ANYTHING!" Meowth shouted as he struggled to break free. Greninja responded by slamming him into the ground with one of its hands on his back to pin him down. The loud commotion gained everyone's attention as they all rushed over to the scene.

    "Pancham, Pancham!" It shouted to Greninja urging him to let Meowth go.

    "Hawlucha!" It said sternly. Greninja eyed Hawlucha harshly as Hawlucha returned the favor with its respectable stance.

    "Stop it Greninja," Ash demanded softly as he winced away the pain causing the two Pokémon to break their concentration from each other. Greninja followed through and releases its grip on the small feline.

    "Wait!" Serena shouted seeing that Meowth was ready to disappear from their sights once again.

    "Let's just have some dinner together." She said in a plea full tone. Despite what Serena told her, Bonnie took a chance a brought out the "truce" cookies that they have made hoping that maybe the power of sweet things could put their tensions to rest.

    "We can enjoy these cookies together. We don't want to keep fighting; we want to be your friends. Would you at least try them?" She said hopefully, Meowth turned to her and reached out for the bag with a blank stare. Bonnie smiled cheerfully as she saw it working. Meowth took the bag, looked at it then crushed it between its paws, shocking everyone with its ruthlessness.

    "GET IT THROUGH YOUR TWERPY HEADS! I…WILL…NEVER…EVER…LEAVE TEAM ROCKET FOR THE LIKES OF YOU…EVER!" It yelled viciously as it threw the crumbled up cookies into the raging rapids of the river. Satisfied it jumped back up into the tree leaving behind a group filled with mixed emotions on the ground.

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    "Sounds of water rippling through my body…"

    **Click, clack, click, clack, click, clack**

    "Where are those footsteps coming from…" Meowth looks to see what it is but gets blinded by the sunlight. Trying to peer through the brightness, the sunlight diminishes into a twinkle of light moving around the highest peaks of the lightly snow-covered, rocky mountains. The sound of the footsteps became louder as they got closer. Meowth ran in the direction that was heading towards the highest mountain peaks.

    **Click, clack, click, clack, click, clack**

    The footsteps picked up their pace too. Soon the path and scenery blackened, nothing could be seen except for the twinkling light in the far distance. Meowth continued to run as the footsteps were still after him. Trying to look for a new path Meowth realized it was running on a big white clock with both hands pointing forward and not moving. To its left it saw another clock, it was moving, but backward and to its right was another clock, but that one was moving forward.

    **Tic-tock, tic-tock, tic-tock, tic-tock**

    **Click, clack, click, clack, click, clack**

    The scenery returns to the mountains and the unbearable sounds ceased. Meowth was surrounded by rock walls and saw a rocky trail that led upwards as the highest mountain peaks with the light twinkling behind him. The orb of light moves in closer at lighting speed passing Meowth overhead. The trail was winding up around and down into a valley in the lowest part of the mountains that was bare of any form of plant life as the limestone rocks and dirt made the ground. The surrounding mountain peaks were jagged, blocking its view of anything that could be near with the exception of a small opening between the rock walls. The opening revealed the snow-covered mountaintops in the far east. Those high mountain peaks were so far away it would be impossible to reach in a short amount of time. The orb of light floating above in front of him started to continue moving forward into a cave. Meowth started to follow but a giant white clock, that sort of resembled the moon, blocked its path.

    **Tic-tock, tic-tock, tic-tock, tic-tock**

    "Timing is everything…" Familiar voices echoed as the sound of ticking clocks filled the air. All around the barren valley multiple compass stars appeared.

    "Voices of the stars..." It heard as the clock with no hands ticked away. The clock then released multiple orbs of light as it dissolved, revealing the cave that it was blocking.

    "Follow me." It heard a voice say as the orbs of light were going inside the cave. Meowth was hesitant to follow but felt a warm light behind it. It turned around to be blinded by the sun that was high in the sky.

    "The sun gives its light from the heart so we can shine on." Saul's voice echoed.

    **Tic-tock, tic-tock, tic-tock, tic-tock**

    "Follow me." It heard again.

    "…The secret of time?" Meowth questioned before moving forward.

    **Tic-tock, tic-tock, tic-tock, tic-tock**

    **Click, clack, click, clack, click, clack**

    It felt a large dark presence behind it. Slowly turning to see none other than the dark shadowy figure standing right behind him as blades of grass flew about. The shadow multiplied itself to surround him; the humans slowly raised their dark hands up towards Meowth, allowing the cold, dark air to emanate from their bodies.

    "GET AWAY FROM ME!" The orbs of light came back out of the cave and quickly engulfed Meowth as he screamed trying to push the shadowy figures away. The bright light shunned the copies away as the shadowy figure stepped back. Meowth was now alone with an orb of light that came from the high mountain peaks in the far off distance.

    "Follow me." It said as the other orbs of light fluttered away towards the cave. It felt a large dark presence behind it once again. Not wanting to turn around to see who it was Meowth ran inside the dark cave following the orb of light.

    **Tic-tock, tic-tock, tic-tock, tic-tock**

    **Click, clack, click, clack, click, clack**

    It felt like the dark presence was following it as it ran.

    "Hurry! You must hurry!" It heard the voice echo. The light was moving fast almost leaving Meowth behind. Meowth picked up the pace, running as fast as it could as the sounds of ticking clocks and footsteps filled its ears.

    "Follow me." The light said. Meowth lost it's footing and tripped. The sounds of the footsteps stopped as the dark presence felt like it was surrounding it. It felt like it was the end; Meowth didn't want to look up as fear engulfed its entire being.

    "Hurry!" It heard, "Follow me…you must follow me." Meowth couldn't move as it felt its body freezing in place due to its fear.

    "Please…you must follow me." The voice sounded urgent as it urged Meowth to continue.

    "Hurry…Follow me...Shine…Shine! Let the light shine!" Meowth heard it say, with all its might it shined the brightest flash it could muster exhausting all of its energy in the process as the dark presence dispersed.

    "Follow me." It heard but Meowth was so tired that it couldn't move anymore as it felt itself slowly passing out. The orb of light reappeared as its eyes slowly closed.

    "Light…the secret of time…shine the light to reveal all." It said, Meowth lost consciousness but still heard the voice say, "Shine…Shine."

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    Waking up violently Meowth realized it was just a dream. It was shaking as its heart was racing. It all felt so real, it was still nightfall and Meowth was still in the tree it retreated to. Thinking that maybe a walk would do it some good got up to climb down. It failed to do so as it started to move, its energy was as drained as if it were still in its dream. It fell out of the tree hitting the ground hard.

    "Ow!" It shouted but quickly covered its mouth hoping that it didn't wake anyone up. It slowly got up but failed again as it fell to its knees.

    "Why can't I move?" It whined as the cold night winds blew against its fur.

    It then started to crawl, dragging its body towards the boulder that was near the tree and closer to the edge of the river. It then used the side of the boulder as a tool to help it up so it could use the little energy it had to jump. Breathing heavily as if it just did an intense workout, placed a paw over its heart as it was still beating fast due to its latest dream. This time not only was it still shaking, but it was also feeling the same weakness in its body as it did in the dream. It was unfortunately used to this by now, it knew it wouldn't be able to sleep anymore. Not to mention whenever it had those weird dreams it always felt like it wasn't sleeping in the first place. The confusion started to cloud Meowth's mind as it stared up at the night sky. The waning moon was taking its beloved moon away signifying that the dreaded new moon was near.

    "I hate change." It whispered to itself as a tear rolled off its cheek. It wiped the dreaded emotion away that appeared uncontrollably. Telling itself to keep it together since the unwanted twerps were nearby and there was no way for it to getaway.

    As it stared at the moon and stars it thought, "Listen to them?"

    Meowth did know what Baltoy meant, it even told him at one point. It was the sun; the stars and the moon, no matter how hard he tried to play his act of not understanding…he knew what it meant. He can't hide from it anymore, he understood what Baltoy was trying to express. However, he couldn't comprehend why it was all happening.

    "Everything happens for a reason?" He thought to himself…well what is "everything?" What is the reason? Is there one? He knew once Anthony said their situation was similar to the one in Kanto that they were apart of Team Oyama, an ally of Team Rocket. Although what Baltoy said was troubling, making him rethink if he can trust Anthony.

    He thought about the former member of Team Solaris and his granddaughter. Saul carried gentle energy that emanated from his being and Clio was an interesting human who had spunk and was hard-headed but every so often was really nice. Thinking about it she sort of reminded him of Jessie in a way. He has heard of Team Solaris but he didn't know much about them, in fact, no one did. They have been under the radar for so long whenever there was word about them, it was like a fleeting whisper. They kept to themselves and would hardly ever travel outside their own region, which if memory serves wasn't far away from Kalos. So seeing them here and a few Solateers can't be too out of the ordinary, right? And from what's known they only steal art, rare items, and other artifacts from museums. Stealing Pokémon from unsuspecting trainers like Team Rocket was not in their forte, however, maybe they do steal Pokémon. They don't know much about them so maybe they do. The fact that Team Solaris members are going out of their way to help him is nice and all but it leaves an unsettling feeling. What if the head of Team Solaris finds out about him being separated? What if the head already knows and their help is nothing but a cover for their real goals? They did meet with Team Flare and their allies who own that museum. Baltoy said not to worry but it's a Solateer, it works for them. If he were in Baltoy's position he would have said the same thing. Then again all that time that they traveled together it didn't feel like Baltoy was going to turn on him. Deep down he felt that he can trust all of them despite the mystery that surrounds Team Solaris, as well as Team Oyama.

    Meowth took a deep breath and exhaled it, releasing his stresses over the matter. He observed the flow of the river while the night sky reflected on the water's surface. Thinking about the dream it just had, it knew it was on the right track. Once the first rays of sunlight appear, it will take the path that heads upwards and away from the river.

    "I can do this…I'm the," He stopped himself.

    Looking up at the night sky that held the half visible moon, "I was strong in the past, but I was living a lie. When I saw that Persian by the boss's side I knew I was out. It was the favorite...not me…not anymore. I actually cried that night…I think I cried for the whole week. I didn't want to accept it, but it was true, the happiness, the love and the acceptance I felt during those days were all a lie. I was never truly the boss's favorite; it was only because I was able to prove that I was worthy. But once I was unable to succeed in doing that…well…it was a harder fall than falling from a tree." Meowth shook away the dark thought.

    "At first, I hated being with Jessie and James; I hated them to the core. They were stupid and weak when it came to the general basics of Pokémon. But one day after we failed to get Pikachu from the twerps…again. We just looked at each other and started laughing, for no reason. We failed again but we were laughing, we were stupid and weak but we were laughing. It was at that moment when I truly saw them. They both had a warm light that I couldn't ignore. It was also the first time I felt true happiness. Time started to move forward again. I started to smile and laugh. I never had to prove myself to them. They never really cared that I was weak or not being useful in the way that other Pokémon were. I was once at the top and everyone wanted me at his or her side but when I failed…no one wants a weak Pokémon. But to Jessie and James, I was their teammate. They accepted my imperfections as I did theirs. I gained nothing from being the Top Cat. The satisfaction of proving myself or training day in and day out all so I could be the very best was meaningless. It's better this way, I'm considered to be weak and no one expects anything from me."

    (I hope that the Rocketeer I saw that day in Kanto remembers the ambition it once had in time to ride the waves of change before it's too late and drowns.) Baltoy's childlike voice echoed as it interrupted his own set of thoughts. He shuddered at the idea of change. His encounter with Baltoy was no accident, Meowth thought as an image of a mask appeared…a mask he grew accustomed to wearing…it started to crack. They have parted ways but Baltoy's presence held a certain power over him that didn't fade away.

    "But I like the way things are." He whined, "I like the life I have with Jessie and James. I don't want to go back to being blind to how ugly our world truly is. I'm okay with how I am now. If I have to stay weak to be with them, then I will stay weak. No matter the sacrifice, I will do whatever it takes to stay with them, to stay free…forever!" He declared as he stared up at the night sky.

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    It was the middle of the night and Ash couldn't sleep. A certain scratch cat kept his mind racing. He tried earlier by bringing it some food but it refused to come down. The other Pokémon weren't much help either since some of them still held their own grudges against it. That was a problem that he could no longer ignore. There must be a way to bring them all together or to at least mend their hard feelings for one another so they can get through their journey together in one piece. However, Meowth burned all the bridges that were there. After its latest interaction made Bonnie cry, most of the Pokémon acted as if it was unforgivable. Ash reached for the backpack that was next to him, carefully enough to not wake up anyone. He reached in and took out the cookies that held the power to remind him of the possibilities. That maybe there is a nicer side to Meowth. That maybe they can become a team. Sure Meowth has been resistant and he agreed with Serena's idea of giving it some space so that way it will come to them. But he couldn't help think that it won't. It's always spacing out probably thinking about…well, maybe everything.

    "If I didn't know where Pikachu or any of my friends were I think I would lose it…I would probably feel…" Ash acknowledged in himself that if he were in a similar situation he would definitely be upset. Maybe he would also feel scared and alone. But Meowth hasn't really shown that it was scared or anything like that.

    "You don't have to hide it, I would understand." He thought as multiple visions of Meowth lost in thought came to the surface. So he doesn't disturb Pikachu he quietly got up so he could get out of the tent for some fresh air. Thinking that maybe a walk would do him some good. Unconsciously he walked over to the tree that Meowth was hiding in with Clio's cookies in hand. It probably wasn't up but to his surprise, Meowth was up and was sitting on the boulder looking up at the night sky.

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    ***Click, Clack, Click, Clack***

    Meowth heard the footsteps against the gravel that were coming from behind and turned to see it was the twerp with a familiar bag in his hands.

    "Can't sleep?" He asked in a friendly tone. Meowth didn't respond, as it didn't want to deal with him. It turned back around hoping its cold shoulder would suffice.

    "I couldn't so I figured a little walk would help." He continued.

    "You know you should apologize for what you did to Bonnie." Ash's friendly tone quickly changed as he started to scold it uncontrollably. While that was not his original intention he couldn't help it. The feeling to correct any bad behavior forced its way out. Under the right guidance, there is a decent Pokémon underneath its hard exterior. He took a deep breath and exhaled reminding himself that was not the reason why he was awake and out here in the first place. He looked at the bag of cookies in his hands and proceeded in a much calmer voice to continue his one-sided conversation.

    "I brought these thinking that maybe when you wake up you can have them. Would you like one now?" Meowth still didn't respond to him, it frustrated Ash but he remembered to keep his cool. It was late and this wasn't the time to get into a heated argument over nothing. He moved in closer and sat down on the boulder. Meowth scooted away from him, clearly trying to make plenty of distance between them. Ash opened the bag to get a cookie.

    "Here," The twerp said as he presented it with a big cookie. Meowth wasn't in the mood but it recalled its lack of energy. It accepted the cookie thinking that maybe it would be enough to give it the energy it needs to keep going and to get rid of the twerp. It took small nibbles as it slowly ate the chocolate cookie. It still tasted really good with its caramel center and crunchy nuts.

    "Maybe after I give it another serving its appetite will be back." Ash thought as he took a bite out of his own cookie. The herbal substance must be working. It was a relief to see it eat something. Luckily Meowth finished its whole cookie. There were only four left so Ash figured that splitting them together would be something nice to do as they sat out here. He reached in for the last cookie and handed it over.

    "Here." Meowth side glanced him; it reached out for the cookie but instead pushed Ash's hand away gently.

    "You can have it." It spoke quietly while looking at the river. Ash started to feel his hopes being crushed. He wanted to say something but stopped himself. Meowth doesn't really respond well if he tries to force it. Instead, he broke the cookie in half.

    "Then let's share it." Meowth looked over to see the split cookie only to have a few memories flood its mind. Memories of how it would always split something with Jessie and James and then always end up fighting who had the bigger piece. A small smile inadvertently appeared as its happy memories came to the surface. It erased its smile quickly by returning to its blank expression and accepted its half of the cookie.

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    It was quiet and Ash was happy to see it actually eat something. It even accommodated to his comprise of splitting a cookie together. It actually felt normal to be sitting here together as if he were sitting with Pikachu or any other of his Pokémon. It was quiet between them, Meowth didn't talk, it was spacing out like usual. It was somewhat disappointing, to have a Pokémon that speaks but hardly says anything. Nevertheless, it was understandable as to why Meowth was aimlessly looking at the river. Ash wanted to ask but the little voice of reason said not to while another little voice that was louder screamed at him. The screaming voice was more convincing telling him that he should tell Meowth to talk to him. That it doesn't need to keep its emotions locked away. He was awake because of it so he might as well try one more time.

    "It's a clear sky tonight, it's not as cold as one would think when traveling in the mountains." He treaded softly but Meowth didn't respond to his attempt at small talk.

    "What do you expect to find following the river?" He dived right into it. He didn't have the patience for trending softly. It wasn't working since Meowth wouldn't give any simple acknowledgment to an easy conversation.

    Meowth did his best to ignore the twerp by looking at the night sky and feeling the calming breeze dance against his whiskers. Then the twerp had to ask about the river. Meowth became fidgety, tapping his hind paw against the rock it was sitting on. He didn't want to answer any questions and being asked about the river brought in the overwhelming doubt that he thought he had relinquished himself. It was a simple question, but how can he tell the twerp? There was no simple answer and the twerp wouldn't believe him. Meowth was going to start moving away from the river anyway. That was the right thing to do, right?

    (Yes.) A soft voice spoke up, Meowth looked around to see who it was. Was it Baltoy? It sounded familiar. It sounded like Baltoy but it was a little different. It sounded like the voice he heard the first night he started this crazy adventure.

    "Is something wrong?" Ash asked as he observed the scratch cat look around as if it were searching for something.

    "I…uh…thought I heard something." A warm sensation tingled throughout Meowth's body as he felt his head move on its own so he could see the stars in the night sky.

    (Yes.) He heard again, like magic his doubts cleared up. He started to breathed calmly welcoming the odd warm sensation as if it were an old friend. He was relaxed; he felt calm about it all. That it was all meant to be, that everything will work out in the end.

    "Uh…the river?" Ash asked again, confused by its actions. Meowth seemed to have snapped out of it as it turned to him with an odd smile as the stars twinkled in its eyes.

    "Everything happens for a reason." It spoke eerily as if it wasn't the one talking. Ash dismissed the odd feeling he got as he listened to Meowth, its answer was vague but at least it was talking to him, he can build from that.

    He smiled, "I agree with you but that doesn't really answer my question. Where are you trying to go?" Meowth became quiet then looked away as it stared aimlessly at the river.

    "You don't have to space out, you can talk to me."

    "It's not like I do it on purpose, there's just a lot on my mind that's all."

    "But you don't have to keep it all to yourself…I will listen to you if you want to talk about it."

    "Well, I Don't!" Meowth snapped signaling that he had pushed it too far.

    "I feel like I need to tell you this, so please listen to what I have to say," Ash spoke calmly as he needed to get it off of his chest. "I find it amazing how you kept yourself together through it all. You are going through a lot but you don't have to go through it alone. You can talk to me about anything you want like when you laughed randomly that one time. You can tell me what was so funny or what is bothering you. Really it can be about anything."

    "Anything?" Meowth emotionlessly repeated.

    "Yes, anything you want," Ash happily confirmed. It was working, he was getting through.

    "Okay, I like stealing. I like how we are always able to trick you. You're so easy that when we are feeling lazy we will just reuse an old trick and that will still get you." It stated casually as it continued its focus on the river while Ash started to feel his blood boil.

    "You said anything. Were you lying about that?" It then turned to him, it was unmoved by what he had to say as its cold glare said it all. It then turned its attention back onto the river. "I get it," it mumbled. "You want me to talk about what you want to hear."

    "You're wrong." Ash quietly snapped. "I want to be friends. If you actually tried we can all be good friends."

    "If I tried? You're the ones who are always waiting for the ball to drop." Meowth countered as it continued to look at the river. Ash looked away as he gripped his knees. He slid off the boulder then started to walk away but stopped himself as he looked back at the scratch cat who remained fixated on the river.

    "I'm getting tired." He stated nonchalantly before heading back to camp.

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    "I hate this!" Meowth thought as he watched the twerps do their morning routine. He knew it by heart from watching them at a distance with Team Rocket and from experiencing it. They all wake up, eat breakfast in their hunky dory twerpy world. Some will train a little while others will play or frolic about because life is so peachy perfect. Then they all finish up by cleaning up camp together because doing things with friends is fun and full of sunshine. Meowth was disgusted by their unnatural cheerfulness as he was forced to join them for breakfast. Everything went back to the way it was when they first started out. They practically dragged him over to sit with them.

    Ash wanted to try again so letting Meowth hide wasn't an option this morning. He gave Meowth a new mug that was smaller than the rest so that way it would finish what was given. Small steps were better than having no progress at all and the Pokémon should at least try to be on good terms with each other. Battling Pokémon was much easier compared to this task. It was clear that Meowth wanted nothing to do with them and a majority of the Pokeémon felt the same way. Ash was disappointed in his Pokeémon for not doing their part and that Meowth wasn't even trying. He signed inwardly to himself. He had his work cut out for him especially when it came to Pikachu and Greninja. Some of the Pokémon seemed to have made their peace with Meowth while others remained distant. It wasn't good as he started to see that Meowth was being treated as an outsider. However, Meowth seemed to embrace its role as the outcast of the group.

    "We have a lot of work to do." If they are to become a team one day, he has to keep trying.

    When they started to pack up Meowth saw his chance to move on without them but was stopped by Hawlucha who expanded its wingspan. It then proceeded to push him back to the others telling him to help out. Greninja took the opportunity to jump in literally, it then shoved a pile of dishes into Meowth's paws with an order to go clean them up. Taken back with a dumbfounded expression, Meowth looks at the dishes then raises them above his head to throw them into the oversized frog's face causing the plates to break and gathering everyone's attention in the process. Greninja was just about to attack as the twerp intervened.

    "If you want us to move faster then you should help out." Ash assessed the situation as he stated calmly.

    "Or you could just leave." Meowth heatedly stated. "You go that way and I will go this way. The next time we see each other will be when you fall into a great big hole." It gave a devilish smirk as Ash felt his temper rising.

    "Ash, let's continue without it." Serena places a hand on his shoulder. "We are almost done Meowth, please wait just a little longer." She spoke calmly as she tried to pull Ash away.

    "Fine." He looked down as he muttered bitterly then looked to his Pokémon. "You guys too." They obliged and left the scratch cat alone.

    Bonnie started to groom some of the Pokémon as an idea popped into her head. She looked over to Meowth and walked over to it. She was still upset and wanted an apology, but maybe after experiencing her grooming skills it will have a change of heart.

    "Meowth how about you let me brush you? All the Pokémon love it when I do it for them, I'm sure you will too." She said cheerfully.

    "There's no way I'm letting that happen!" It snapped at her causing some of the Pokémon to growl.

    "But I'm really good, I know you will like it." She said as she reached out with the brush. Meowth slapped her hand away knocking the brush out of her hand. It didn't leave a mark of any kind but its action was deplorable in the eyes of everyone that was there.

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    Meowth was walking fast ahead of the group with each step filled with a purpose. He was on a mission…he was going to find his friends…he was going to find out what it all means, the dreams, the disappearance and why it all happened. The rocky path that had tiny pebbles rolling against the ground filled the air as they walked up the steep hill away from camp. It took them higher than the canopy of the trees in the forest that was now far behind them. It soon leveled out and bended its way eastward, away from the rivers and into a dark narrow path that was surrounded by rock walls with only the skylight above them. He couldn't see what was ahead of them for that was blocked by other formations in the land, but he knew that those mountains that were covered in snow were up ahead.

    His ears twitched to the sounds around him, listening to the Pokémon that reside in the area. He was on his guard, to say the least; if he dreamt of the trail then maybe the danger will follow as well. Meowth took a deep breath to let it out slowly as the fear of what awaited him started to sneak into his psyche. They came to a fork in the narrow canyon, one way kept going straight and it was more open with a friendlier vibe while the other way was parallel to the river that he would have followed if he didn't change his plans.

    "What a pretty view," The twerpete said admiringly as they saw the pretty blue sky and the long mountain range that stretched for miles.

    "This journey just keeps getting better and better." Dr. Idiot stated as he continued drawing out his new map.

    Meowth took a deep breath to let it out slowly, shaking away any bad thoughts that threatened to fill his mind; he proceeded by taking the less attractive path. He overheard some opposition but he tuned them out as he kept his above-average pace. He started to slow down to a normal pace as his thoughts started to take over. He started thinking that a shadow man appearing in real life was impractical. But then he remembered those three men dressed in black riding on Tropius, they might appear again. From what Anthony told him those people have been a real nuisance for Team Oyama here in the mountains. They had to up the security so the areas that are most important are not exposed. For a small group, they certainly have Team Oyama in a hot mess. Team Oyama is a docile group, they're friendly and don't really do much compared to other teams, but mess with them and one will find out the hard way when dealing with the Oyamas. Pun strongly intended. From that interaction with Bidoof and Dwebble, it seems that Team Solaris is helping out in more ways than one when it comes to those attackers. If anything the likely hood of running into other Oyateers was more likely than some threatening human.

    "That may make things difficult." Meowth thought knowing that Dr. Idiot plus the hot-headed twerps were not going to make things easy for him.

    "Well no matter the challenges that await me, I will keep going." He thought as he returned to his slightly faster pace.

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    "Can we please take a break?" The mini twerp whined, "I'm tired and my feet hurt."

    "Geez…I'm doing this on 2 hours of sleep and they're the ones who need a break."

    "A break does sound like a good idea." The four-eyed twerp said as he patted his sister's head, "I mean how much further do we have to go?" He looked straight at Meowth.

    "Do you even know where you are going?" He asked point blank as everyone eyed the scratch cat Pokémon. It was the question that Meowth dreaded, he didn't know how to answer it…heck he didn't have an answer, he just knows he must go this way and that's it.

    "Well I know one thing for sure," Dr. Idiot spoke up. "I'm not stopping till I find the Statue of Rina. She is near, I can feel it in my bones that it's only a matter of time that we stumble upon the cave that she calls home."

    "Cave?" Meowth thought out loud.

    "Oh, yes most of my research has led me to believe that the real Statue of Rina has been stored away in a cave somewhere here in Montes Jura. The one I found in the bay of Strasboro City was a replica of the real one and it proved my theory that I was indeed on the right track and that the real one is here."

    Meowth heard enough; his mind has met its capacity of endless speculations. He didn't want to add another one. He turned around to keep going only to be stopped by the stupid twerp who ran in front of him to block him from going any further.

    "Ugh…I don't need a break." Meowth whined, "And I don't want to sit around and do nothing while I wait for you twerps to get your act together. If you're so keen on following me then just catch up to me when you're all done. It's not like there is any other path I will be on, it just goes around the bend and then straight up on a narrow path."

    "How do you know that?"

    "Uh..." Meowth paused realizing it revealed a little too much detail that couldn't be explained. No rational thinking person would believe him; it's all a little hard for him to believe himself.

    "It's mountainous terrain, of course, the paths will be narrow." It said quickly to cover its mistake. The twerp eyed it for a minute then bent forward to push it back towards the group who were all starting to settle themselves for a quick break.

    "No…stop…I don't want to…" Meowth whined as it tried to squirm out of the twerp's reach.

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    Meowth sat itself down angrily on one of the few boulders that were sticking out of the rock walls that bordered their narrow path as everyone else did the same. It watched them get out snacks, "So much for a quick break."

    It sighed out its frustration and turned its attention to the very un-scenic route it was taking. It was dark due to the lack of light that only came from above as their surroundings were blocked off. A tall figure overshadowed him causing him to snap out of it to see it was Dr. Idiot with his ever so bright smile. His familiar presence annoyed Meowth as the archeologist's whole being reminded it of a certain young blue-haired man.

    "I heard you like sweets." He said cheerfully as he pulled out a red carton box. "I have kettle corn, it's not very sweet like cookies but it definitely will satisfy a sweet tooth."

    "Ket-tle corn?" Meowth repeated curiously as if the word "kettle" was new to it.

    "Ke-t-tle…k, e, t, t, l, e…kettle." It spelled it out slowly as it got the feel for the word.

    "What's a kettle?" It asked innocently enough, reminding them of the fact that it is a Pokémon. That its intelligence is an extraordinary thing, it can talk, read and even write beautifully. To see it in this new light of learning a new human thing was fascinating, to say the least.

    "You know, it's what they use for tea." Bonnie chimed in.

    "But those are called teapots. So the corn is cooked in teapots?"

    "No, no teapots can be called kettles too." Serena added, "It's cooked in a cast iron pan you know like a cauldron."

    "Hmm…Cauldron corn…kettle corn." It thought out loud.

    "Kettle corn feels like it rolls off the tongue and I guess it's sort of fun to say but Cauldron corn sounds dark and mysterious, which makes it more interesting." It was as if its fur was lighter somehow as if learning something new made it happier. It was fascinating to watch; it didn't learn a new move it learned a new word and it calculated it to understand how it works with what it already knew. Meowth was indeed an amazing Pokémon in its own right the kids thought as they observed the phenomenon while some couldn't help but giggle at the cuteness while others simply couldn't contain their smile.

    "Ha, Ha." Dr. Pan laughed, "Well here try some."

    "No way." Its response was fast without missing a beat. It ended the moment as everyone anime fell to the ground.

    "But why?" Dr. Pan sadly asked.

    "How stupid do you think I am? I can see the strings that are attached to that red box." It responded casually.

    "I wonder if I were to accept your offer, what would your next move be? Hmmm…could it be something round?" Meowth eyed him suspiciously who squirmed under pressure as if an arrow shot straight through his friendly offer. "I thought so. Just hurry it up with your stupid break."

    Ash wanted to say something but felt a slight tug on the shoulder. He looked back to see Serena who looked at him with a wearily stare, telling him not to push it any further. Ash swallowed what he wanted to say; frustrated with the constant defiance and refusal to even try to be a nice traveling companion. It was getting on his nerves. He watched Meowth turn its back towards them, facing the direction they were heading in with its arms folded. Signaling it was done with them and wanted nothing to do with them. Meowth didn't want to be found by them. That in itself bothered Ash the most. Why not be found? Why do it all alone? Ash observed the scratch cat's sturdy posture soften as its arms released themselves. Ash sat across from it as he viewed it from its side. He watched as its facial expression softened, its hard glare was replaced with darkened eyes that appeared distant. It was gone...somewhere lost in its own mind once again. As much as Meowth annoyed him with its attitude, it was saddening to watch it disappear from them so quickly.

    "Where do you go when you're not here?"

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    Author notes:

    Top cat:

    I talked about this a little bit before but will say it again. I'm going by the very first season...the very first episode it was introduced. It kept reminding them it was top cat and when it saw the Persian it was shocked. I am well aware of a certain awful episode that recants all of that but I'm going to ignore it...I hate that episode in more ways than one. I was originally going to put in flashbacks of what it was like being top cat but what I have written about its past was too long and I felt it would be better to make a prequel of its time as top cat...so yes sometime in the near future there will be a prequel.

    The word kettle and kettle corn

    I don't remember seeing or hearing Meowth use this word or the treat itself. If it did...sorry. I said this before and I will say it again, Meowth is a Pokémon and I want to treat it that way...meaning its not going to know or understand everything that a growing human would...just because it can talk doesn't make it human. It has the intelligence that separates it from other Pokémon but its still a Pokémon. A cat can talk but it will always have the knowledge of a cat with the capacity to learn more then its non-talking feline friends...that's what I'm emphasizing here.

    A lesson in cat behavior

    When a cat turns its back to you, its literally giving you the cold shoulder...sort of...when they do that they are in other words taking themselves out of the situation meaning if they can't see it, its not there. My cat would do this when she was mad or feeling neglected because I didn't feed her because you know the bottom of the bowl started to show but once I called out to her all was good again. Meowth is very much a cat and I said this before as well that I will be bringing in some cat like behaviors into the fold. So whenever Meowth turns its back to the group it is very much indeed done with the situation.
    Chapter 17
    Author notes:

    I think this is the best time to say that the "Amazing" saga has been divided up multiple times in fact chapters 10-till now all have been divided up due to so much was going on that the chapters had to be divided. This was going to be a much longer chapter but I had to cut end it early for reasons. Originally I was going to have the travel time in the mountains condensed into about 3-4 chapters but it just couldn't be done. Having to deal with dreams, a Team Flare or any other team interaction was just to much and had to be split up. So while this chapter is a short one the next one will be much longer. Looking on the bright side of this, you get a chapter now rather than later. ;)

    Magically appearing tables and medallions...As I explained the medallions, the same basic principle applies with the tables or chairs. The infamous scene that many critics like to make fun of is the 1st movie when we see the heroes sitting at a table in the middle of nowhere. How did it get there...we don't know...do they ever explain that...no...so where it comes from, your answer is as good as mine.

    The sun and moon...I said this in the beginning, one of the major reasons I started writing this online was because of the titles of the new games. One of my main themes dealt with the relationship between the sun and the moon. I always had it in my head that there could be a connection between the sun and moon and that could be worked into the world of Pokémon so once I heard that was going to be the new game titles, I had to write this. I had this story in my head for years and it always consisted with Meowth and its koban. As I matured (hopefully) the fate of the characters have changed, I won't go into detail in what changed right now for that would be spoiling things but I will explain it down the road. But I will say this, the story involves mythologies around the world, most specifically ancient Greece, ancient Egypt and others involving cats. Cats have a very interesting history throughout the world, they were worshiped, feared and have interesting legends like the maneki neko which is what Meowth is based on.


    Chapter 17: Following the Flow leads to Amazing Secrets

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    "I feel like I'm being watched." Meowth thought.

    A few days have passed. Meowth led the way traveling through narrow crevices. Right, left or forward it didn't matter nor did he care to explain why he chose a certain way. It was a new day and the tensions from the night before were as high as ever.

    It was the same routine as always and the stupid twerp tried to bring the Pokémon together by getting them to find something in common with one another. Meowth couldn't take it anymore as he shouted his usual insults and then throwing its half-empty mug in the twerp's direction. That action led to an even bigger fight between the two as the remaining Pokémon continued to growl. Meowth went out of his way to literally draw a line in the gravel and dirt to have their camp divided.

    Meowth was getting angry just thinking about last night. He had to ditch them but he was also tired. Meowth tried to sleep during the night but woke up due to the dreams that have been haunting him. Meowth couldn't move again so he had to stay in his place while hoping the numb feeling will wear off. Once the first few rays of sunlight appeared, the feeling started to go away. As if the rays of sunlight cleared away all of his problems, he regained control over his body.

    Everyone was still asleep, now was his chance to ditch them. Meowth started to head out but suddenly the stupid twerp ran in front of him.

    "I had a feeling you would be up early again, good thing I had Noivern to stay alert so I would know the minute you try to make your move." He said proudly of his bright decision-making as Noivern landed right behind him.

    "Noivern!"

    "Pika-chu." It yawned tiredly as it was perched comfortably on the twerp's shoulder.

    "Let's go!" He said as he started to push it back towards camp.

    "Not everyone is up yet, we will go after we have some breakfast." It was as if last night's argument didn't even happen, Meowth was floored by the twerp's positive attitude.

    "No…stop…I don't want to wait for everyone." Meowth whined as it squirmed out of Ash's reach. Ash proceeded at an attempt to pick it up and carry it but Meowth was having none of that as it swatted him away, scratching one of his hands in the process.

    "Ow!" Ash winced at the slight pain, Meowth didn't scratch that hard but its claws were still painfully sharp.

    "Don't you dare try to pick me up!" Meowth warned, "I can walk just fine on my own."

    "Than walk yourself back to camp," Ash ordered.

    "Pikaa…chu." It said warningly in a groggy tone since it was still in the process of waking up and had very little patience at the moment.

    "But I don't want to sit around and do nothing while I wait for your twerpy friends to get their act together." It whined.

    "We are traveling together and when you travel with others,"

    "Don't you dare try to reprimand me on something that I didn't want to do in the first place," Meowth yelled.

    "Traveling together was and still is a mistake. I only agreed to it because ditching you at the train station wasn't enough." Meowth's ears started to twitch breaking his attention from the conversation.

    "I feel like…" Meowth tilted his head to the side to look behind him. They exited the narrow canyon last night and were now out in the open. Standing on a small mesa as the rock walls bordering the narrow canyon bordered one side and on the other side was a long fall into anther canyon filled with sharp rocks. If one squinted a river could be seen, luckily for Meowth his hearing was strong enough to hear its soothing sound.

    "I feel like I'm being watch." He thought as he looked up at the ledge of the rock wall that borders the path. It shook the feeling off and turned back around only to come face to face with the twerp who bent down to its level. Meowth stepped back due to the surprise close up. The twerp held a melancholy expression but Meowth didn't care. He was ready to reiterate their fight from last night. The twerp reached out to pet him but Meowth didn't hold back as it scratched his hand away.

    "Ow!" Ash winced as he felt the sting from his new small scratch. He looked at it briefly then sighed as he calmly turned his attention onto Meowth.

    "For a minute or two you're here but then you suddenly drift away to a place where no one can reach you. When you come back you're distant and bitter with a short temper. You've been reluctant to do anything together." Ash spoke softly as his voice started to crack while his hat overshadowed his eyes. "I don't care what you say, we are traveling together so get over it."

    He looked at it with strict brown eyes. He wasn't crying or anything of that sort, he was upset and Meowth's attitude was wearing his patience down. It bothered him how it would always space out, he understood why and what it was probably thinking about but seeing how fast it disappears was disturbing. No matter how much he told Meowth it could talk to him, it refused as if it were hiding behind a concrete wall. But there was something else about Meowth that bothered him. He couldn't put his finger on it but it felt like there was so much more to the scratch cat Pokémon than it was willing to let on. He wants to get to know that Meowth…the real Meowth…the one that likes to hide deep within its own heart. His hard eyes softened as he stared into its blue eyes that were hallow and dark. Again? Even when he is talking directly to Meowth it spaces out. It was looking through him, not aware of what was around it as it maintained an empty expression. What was it thinking about? Was it something sad or scary? Suddenly its expression changed, it came back as its eyes became radiant sapphires. It was that look again. In a fleeting moment, a light flickered within its eyes, was he seeing things? What was that? What is that look? Was it confidence or willpower? What is it?

    "What are you thinking about?"

    "I don't want to stick around any longer than I have too." It said snapping Ash out of his daze. "It's not like I'll be on any other path, it just goes straight up on a narrow path then around the bend."

    "How do you know that?"

    "Uh..." Meowth paused. "It's mountainous terrain, of course, the paths will be narrow." It quickly said.

    "Whatever, you're not traveling alone," Ash said sternly, he observed the scratch cat before him as it was looking around with its ears twitching. It's keeping everything bottled up, how much more can Meowth take before it implodes? It wasn't healthy on top of it being skinnier than normal. Giving Meowth its space wasn't going to work in the long run in his opinion. If he did, Meowth most likely would never come to them for anything at the rate it was going. It can shout all the empty threats it wants. It can push him away when he tries to pet it all it wants. It can scratch him and argue with him all it wants but no matter what it does if he has to take a sledgehammer to break down its barrier he will. He will reach it.

    "We're traveling through the mountains again." He started softly, "We're pretty far away from Alemaca Valley but it doesn't change the fact that we are still traveling through Montes Jura."

    "Where's he going with this?"

    "Are they on your mind?" He asked point-blank. He spoke calmly as he was still bent down to meet it at its level. His voice was sincere as well as his smile, Meowth must give the twerp some credit he is not as stupid as it made him out to be. They most certainly did cross its mind, but it can't dwindle on something that may or may not happen. It's finally confident enough to follow the flow in its own way but its doubts always threaten to resurface replacing its confidence with fear and uncertainties. Meowth couldn't answer; it looked at the twerp but quickly looked away not wanting to admit what possible truths awaited it. If its dreams were coming to life then this path will indeed lead it to a cave that will be in the lowest part of the mountains and there it might run into…that thing. Sadness, anxiety and the uncertainty jumbled together behind its blank expression that has become its worn-out mask of deception. It kept its straight face intact but its body language gave it away. Its ears continued to twitch as its arms were crossed in front of its chest, not making eye contact as it sucked on the inner parts of its cheeks giving itself an adorable pouty face as if it were stump with a really hard trivia question.

    "Everything happens for a reason." The twerp stated, "I really do believe that too. It's a good thing we found you in Strasboro City. Who knows what would have happened if we didn't."

    "I probably would have found Jessie and James already and you would be none the wiser." It said coldly, the mentioning of Strasboro City really rubbed it the wrong way.

    "Speaking of Alemaca Valley, I think it's safe to assume that was when you stopped thinking that I was trying to fool you…No wait…that's not it…it was after those men came. You also started pushing the idea of wanting to train me after that. Tell me if that incident never happened would you still have the same feelings you have now?" The twerp was about to respond but Meowth wasn't going to let him.

    "Don't answer that! I know what you would say and I know it would be a lie and don't you dare tell me otherwise. Wasn't you who said that I was just as bad as the rest of Team Rocket?"

    "You heard that?" The twerp spoke softly.

    "You're so typical for a human. You think you are some kind of high and mighty hero when in reality you're just a conceited twerp!" Meowth stopped its banter to take a deep breath as it looked down.

    "I had enough…I can handle a little separation or attacks from other teams but spending every waking second with you and your friends is suffocating me." It softly spoke out its frustration. Showing that it has reached it's limit days ago as Ash heard its mental exhaustion, letting it sink in. It didn't yell nor did it cry. It held a poor posture as it looked at the ground as if it has been defeated. Ash got up and quietly walked back to camp.

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    Meowth was walking alone…sort of…Noivern followed him probably because of the twerp. It was circulating him from above, which was getting on Meowth's nerves.

    "Would You Quit It!?" Meowth shouted upwards,

    "If you're going to follow me then walk, don't fly." Noivern flew off leaving him alone.

    "Really? That was easy." Meowth thought happily. Noivern then came back and landed in front of him with a peach it wished to give to Meowth.

    "Noivern." (For you.) It said.

    "Noivern, No, Noivern, Vern." (It's a really good piece. I always find the best.) Meowth observed the fruit in its clawed hand.

    "Noivern? Noivern, No, Noivern." (Do you not like peaches? I can look for something else; it's just that the canopy in the forest is hard to get into for someone big like me.) It said in a sorrowful tone.

    Noivern may have evolved from the crybaby it once was but it still had a childish outlook on life. Evolution changes a lot of things in a Pokémon, its appearance, its strength and sometimes personality. Not every evolution was the same but it was a change that Meowth despised. If other Pokémon did it that's fine, it's their decision but Meowth will never do it. It scared him; he wasn't sure which he hated most, the idea of being captured or the idea of evolving. He would lose his ability to talk, which has become very precious to him. All that hard work learning to talk like a human would be gone just like that. Not to mention he would lose apart of himself, sure he would still be Meowth but he would also not be Meowth, he would be a Persian and being a Meowth wouldn't just be a memory but an old life. Meowth stopped thinking about something that made him so sad as he looked at Noivern who was looking at him curiously with hope in its eyes that maybe this time Meowth will accept its offer.

    "Thank you," Meowth said sheepishly. He accepted it and sliced it in half.

    "Here, I won't be able to finish it all." He said offering Noivern the other half who happily accepted.

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    "Why do I keep getting the feeling like I'm being watched."

    Noivern prepared to fly again to give the others their location, but Meowth stopped it by saying its best to keep a low profile and that the other flyers will be able to find them. Noivern was confused as to why Meowth was so adamant on it not flying but Meowth wasn't in the mood to explain his strange feeling of being watched. At the request of Noivern, they walked slowly together so the others can catch up. It was unspoken but he agreed to do that. Meowth knew that they will rejoin them eventually. It was unavoidable, but to be given a chance to be humanless for a few minutes was refreshing. He would like another chance like this again. Meowth's ears began to twitch as Noivern lifted its head up.

    "What's that sound?"

    It sounded like music, echoing within the mountains as the sound bounced off its surroundings. It sounded eerily peaceful…it gave Meowth chills. They were little ways down around the bend from where the camp was located. The path they were on was starting to go up towards where he believes the music is coming from. Reaching the top, they were now the highest they have ever been. The mountain range stretched out for miles in all directions. It was a breathtaking view, unfortunately, this wasn't the time to site see for the source of music was right in front of Meowth.

    A young brown-haired man, probably around the same age as James was sitting sophisticatedly on a boulder playing his instrument. His Flygon was curled up behind the boulder he was sitting on as it listened to its trainer play his peaceful melody. He kept on playing as if Meowth wasn't there.

    "There you are." He said as he stopped briefly to look at it with his vibrant violet eyes that adorned his fair-skinned face.

    He was a member of Team Oyama no doubt; Meowth focused itself to catch the individual's scent. Amongst all the Pokémon scents that were on him, this human's unique scent was similar to Anthony's. Humans probably don't know this but family members share a component in their scent. It took a while for Meowth to be able to separate a human's scent to detect their relations to other humans. It wasn't something he intended to perfect but after he learned how to talk, it was a useful ability. He was no Slurpuff, his hearing was his best sense but his ability to smell was definitely helpful when it came to the human aspect of this world.

    The man was slender with an artistic demeanor as he side glanced Meowth while continuing to play his instrument. His outfit was clean-cut compared to other Team Oyama agents. Most of them wear baggy clothes and are rough looking since they deal with rock and ground types as well as rough terrains such as the one they are currently in. His khaki-colored cargo pants were tightly fitted which were held by a belt buckle that had an interesting stone. He wore a short-sleeved cargo jacket that was light army green. Underneath was a black t-shirt that had the Team Oyama insignia, which was a circle with a cross inside. Most of the symbol was covered due to his light cargo jacket being halfway zipped up, but the symbol was clearly there in its off white color.

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    Someone was clearly missing as everyone woke up back at camp. Ash was sitting at the table with a melancholy expression with Pikachu looking at him worryingly. He just wasn't as upbeat and full of confidence as he once was. It was a quiet breakfast until Dr. Pan started rummaging through his notes and breaking their silence.

    "How did Meowth learn how to talk? Do you kids know?" They looked at each other and shook their heads no.

    "That's too bad but have you ever seen a light come from its koban in any way?"

    "It knows flash," Ash answered forlornly.

    "There was also that one time when Saul touched its koban directly, it was a spark of light," Clemont added.

    "But that light looked sort of different, right?" He asked his friends who all nodded in agreement. It's been in the back of their minds, that light appeared quickly if they had blinked they would have missed it. They didn't know what it was or what it could be; they didn't even know it could do that. Heck, they didn't even know Meowth could use flash. It always claimed that it couldn't learn any moves and that statement has been proven to be a lie. Why it would lie about something like that was confusing to them, to say the least.

    "Flash you say? Interesting, well according to research some ancients believed that Meowth were the first ones to light up dark places. The koban is said to be a gift from the sun."

    "Hey, Saul said something about it being a gift," Serena recalled out loud.

    "I always thought it was just a gold coin," Bonnie said.

    "Meowth were the first to use flash?" Clemont asked.

    "Yes, it was believed that it was light from the sun and they were the first ones to harness it. They are considered to be the creatures of the night, children of the moon and the koban represents the strong ties between the moon and the sun." Dr. Pan answered.

    "Most of my research has been focused on finding the Statue of Rina but when I was interning for Professor Hale's team, I helped some of his colleagues. They were doing research that dealt with the history of Pokémon. One peculiar find was about Meowth, but the sites were so old and worn down that the information was limited." He showed them some pictures with ancient walls decorated with drawings of Meowth with light coming out of the koban.

    "We couldn't find anything else since everything was destroyed due to weather and age. However, during a few more expeditions we found a few more details here or there such as Meowth and Baltoy working together and among other things."

    "Like what?" Ash finally spoke up.

    Dr. Pan was just about to answer but they were all distracted as they heard music being played. It sounded like a violin as the sounds bounced off the mountainous surroundings. Hawlucha was the first to react as it flew up and headed into the direction that Meowth went.

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    "Hawlucha!" Meowth heard from above. Talk about bad timing. "Hawlucha!" It cried as it made its landing next to Meowth and Noivern.

    "Were you expecting me?" Meowth asked skeptically as he took in the man's features.

    "My father did promise you after you helped them out. The name's Mamoru. You have created quite the disturbance here in Kalos." He said as he continued to play his musical instrument. The notes that he played were like sharp daggers as they vibrated right through Meowth's body.

    "Really?" Meowth said as calmly as it could although its nerves were getting the best of it.

    "The Laurel Museum belongs to us. I figured you would like to know the details of our little talk with Team Flare." He said as he continued playing. Of course, it wanted to know, it's been bothering it this whole time. So the allies were Team Oyama, that's good, right? Saul did say that they were allies as well as Baltoy and it witnessed that exchange between Bidoof and Dwebble, so it's all good, right?

    "Your museum?" Mamoru stopped playing and looked at Meowth sharply.

    "Team Rocket has quite the reputation, if it were to crumble then the rest would succumb to a similar fate. Destroying weaker organizations is a meaningless effort; hunting for a larger prize has better rewards. What if I told you there was a group out there with that goal in mind? That one of their tactics is to infiltrate organizations and destroy them from the inside out."

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    "Oh, little Meowth!" Dr. Idiot shouted as the others followed him.

    "I know I'm short, but does he really have to say that!" Meowth thought as the man's statement irked it. Mamoru placed his instrument down and stood up. He was clearly ready to leave.

    "Wait! Please tell me what happened!" Meowth expressed despairingly.

    "What did they say? What do they want? That Tatsuo guy, he had something to do with their disappearance, didn't he?" Mamoru eyed it suspiciously due to its last question.

    "Huh…you are to smart for your own good," Mamoru said callously.

    "Our museum is used as a training facility for new recruits. Your little escapade in the crypt was flawless, making my training programs look inept." He glared at Meowth menacingly.

    "Luckily for you, I'm willing to let that slide due to our circumstances. Your little stunt helped us gain more knowledge then we could ever hope for, but it's not enough to repay us for the Team Rocket doppelganger." Meowth's fur tingled at the thought; two teams helped it so payment was going to cost double.

    "Meowth doesn't owe you anything!" Ash snapped, "Just you do you work for?"

    "That's classified information," The strange man answered coolly. Ash turned to Meowth for answers.

    "Don't expect the Rocketeer to answer for you, Xenos."

    "Xenos?" Ash thought as he recalled the term being used before.

    "Our team likes our privacy and we don't desire recognition from the likes of you. The Rocketeer knows this, everyone that's associated with an organization knows this." Mamoru than focused his sole attention on Meowth who was growing uncomfortable due to the situation it was in.

    "Timing is everything." He said, sending chills down Meowth's back.

    "Just keep going down this path and cross the bridge. You're smart enough to figure it out from there." He then hopped on the back of his Flygon before giving his final statements.

    "Your talents are being wasted in Team Rocket. I suggest you consider your options before drowning with a sinking ship so willingly." With that said he flew off.

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    "A bridge?" Meowth thought as a dream it had resurfaced.

    Ash stopped Meowth from moving forward as he placed a hand over its small shoulder. His grip tightened against its soft fur, he was still upset over their latest argument. How can he reach it? He's running out of options. He lets it go for a few minutes and already someone from another team appeared. So there are more teams out there? It didn't matter, they were all the same in his book; evil and exploiting Pokémon for their own evil deeds. Jessie and James maybe apart of Team Rocket but the fact that they disappeared was a frightening thought. They had their past but he wouldn't wish them a horrible fate. He wants to find them too but this whole ordeal has opened his eyes in regards to Meowth. It's true, he never gave a second thought about Meowth before, it was on the same level with Jessie and James. They were the Team Rocket Trio always harassing him whenever they got the chance. Not once did he ever think of Meowth as a Pokémon, especially after Unova. But everything is changing. He wants to help find Jessie and James but to let it return to Team Rocket left a sick feeling in his stomach.

    "I had enough of all the secrets. What were you two talking about before we got here? What makes you think that it's Tatsuo and not Team Flare? I want to help you but I can't do that if you don't talk to me." Meowth scratched his hand forcing him to let go. It scratched him hard, as its glare was sharp, filled with anger and frustration of its own.

    "OW!" Ash cried as he held his hand then looked at Meowth's sharp blue eyes.

    "PIKA!" It jumped off of his shoulder preparing to attack.

    "Pikachu!" Ash warned, looking down at it shaking his head no, before returning his attention onto the scratch cat Pokémon.

    "I didn't follow you here out of pity. What happened to you was awful but you shouldn't have to face it alone, we will work together and find Team Rocket. If Team Flare or anyone else shows up, we will work together. I understand that you're feeling overwhelmed but if you would just," he reached out to try to pet it but was scratched once again as Meowth slapped his hand away, hissing at him in the process.

    "You will never understand!" It hissed, showing that talking the same language didn't change the fact that it was still just a Pokémon.

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    Meowth was walking ahead on the path that was suggested to them in a much faster pace than normal. It was livid, no matter what Ash tries to do Meowth heads in the opposite direction. He never saw it hiss before, he doesn't want to cause it any more distress but Meowth was leaving him with little to no options. Giving Meowth its space isn't going to work. It would never talk to them if he didn't probe it a little. It can't keep it all to itself, it has to open up at some point, otherwise, it will just breakdown.

    "How dare he say he understands!"

    Meowth was fuming as it walked on ahead. Everything about the twerps angered Meowth. He couldn't take it anymore. He wasn't sure which was worse, dealing with the twerps or the threat of other teams. Unova was a cakewalk compared to this nightmare. That's what this was, a nightmare and Meowth was desperate to wake up. The path went down away from the plateau and then around the corner to the other side. He saw the bridge and it was going across the gorge that was filled with sharp rocks, not to mention they were very high up from the bottom. The bridge looked sort of safe, some of the wood planks were missing and a tethered rope held it together. It was the only way across and Mamoru did say to cross it, but he also remembered what might happen if he did. Meowth took a deep breath, he came this far and he wasn't turning back now.

    "Wait!" The four-eyed twerp shouted, "That doesn't look safe at all. We should look for another way to cross."

    "I don't think there is another way," Dr. Idiot said.

    "Well, I guess we can finally end this charade once in for all," Meowth stated snidely. "Later!"

    He proceeded to cross as he darted away before anyone could grab him. Meowth was a third way in as he felt the bridge wobble due to the others; he ignored their cries and warnings not to go any further. He came across holes in the bridge but was able to cross without falling through. It then heard fast pace running coming from behind it and turned to see the stupid twerp running towards it but he slipped through one of the planks that were rotted and couldn't hold a human's weight.

    "AHH!" "PIKA PI!" He screamed as he held onto the rope railing tightly so he didn't fall.

    "ASH!" The twerps and Dr. Idiot screamed in fear for their friend. They were all halfway in the middle of the bridge. It was a long way down and the unsteady bridge was uncomfortably swaying. Dr. Idiot was an even bigger wuss than James; it was almost laughable how similar they were as he held onto the rope with dear life. Ash pulled himself up to safety as everyone reached his side. He ignored their concerns as he had his sights set on the scratch cat itself. It had a smirk that came off as if it was satisfied to see him in such a state. It was almost as if it were displeased he didn't fall, but at the moment he fell he could have sworn that he saw a hint of concern. Meowth's smirk disappeared as it focused its attention behind him. Ash turned to see what was behind him but didn't see anything and turned back to Meowth whose ears were twitching frantically, it turned and started to run.

    "MEOWTH! STOP!"

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    Author notes:

    If you Google earth symbol a circle with a cross would be the first image you see and that would be the Oyama symbol. There are some ancient notes about this symbol one, in particular, dealing with Norse mythology. It was considered Odin's cross or Solar cross and because of that it was very close to being used as Team Solaris's symbol. But for some reason it just didn't feel right for Team Solaris. If you Google electrical earth symbol you will see a rod with three lines on the bottom. Originally, this was going to be Oyama's symbol due to the fact that this team is more like a social network that works underground hence the symbol, but I changed my mind at the last minute. I still like the idea and in theory it sounded great but as the final draft it just felt wrong sort of.

    The inspiration for Mamoru is in fact Rui from Hana yori Dango/Boys over flowers. If you go to youtube and type in valley of the flowers with Rui or the title of the anime with it, you should get the violin piece. The music is just so hauntingly beautiful, whenever I was having writer's block and trying to figure out how to word the information/hints of what's going on I would have this piece playing. It really has that tone for when secrets are being revealed.

    Evolving...hopefully my writing is sort of good enough to make you feel guilty about evolving your Pokémon...don't worry I still do it without batting an eye but since this is being done in the anime realm I'm trying to show it in different light. That evolving is viewed differently to a Pokémon and Meowth is a Pokémon so I wanted to express how its viewed through a Pokémon's eyes verses a human's.

    Knowing how Meowth learned to talk...again I haven't seen the show and I'm not sure if Ash or the original cast ever learned that. I know its been brought up by a character but then say they don't care so its never brought up again. I've never seen any of the Black and White series...yes I bring it up but I've never seen it just going by what I've read so whether or not it was explained to Ash during that time, I'm not aware of it...maybe it did but I'm going out on a limb here and saying that they never got that close. Meowth was on a mission so revealing something personal like that seems like crossing boundaries in my opinion.

    Scents...okay when you have a pet what do they do. They rub their scent on you claiming you as their own. Pokémon (most of them anyways) are animals so that's the logic behind it being able to smell Pokémon on a human. Now when it comes to the whole family members, I'm no scientist so I'm not sure if its true...it could be...we receive our genetic code from our parents and pheromones do play a part when it comes to attraction so maybe there is...there's a reason why I brought this little detail up now but all in good time. I looked up to see which Pokémon has the best sense of smell and Slurpuff came up as well as the new dog Pokémon but I decided to use Slurpuff since we still don't know much about the new Pokémon and the dog Pokémon entry was very Lassie-ish so it didn't feel right.

    Professor Hale is from the 3rd movie in case some don't know. There's nothing major about him except that he is voiced by Dan Green.

    Flash and the light within the koban...I think its safe to say I have officially sailed in to the deep waters of fanfic territories with this one but as I explained in the above notes I always felt that there should be more to the koban than just being a coin on its head. I mean its on its forehead...the third eye so why can't it be something more. All the other Pokémon that have something on their forehead have something unique about them so what can't Meowth in general have something unique about them.

    I'm not spoiling anything here but I must say this...don't worry this is not leading into one of those stories where Meowth is the ultimate hero or is really strong or whatever trope that you can place here. I hate those cliches, this is more of an expansion I guess you could say...more so trying to develop a character that wasn't given the chance to develop more and was just casted aside as one of the dumb villains.
    Chapter 18
    Author notes:

    Well it looks like I lied about having the next chapter being longer, in hindsight I probably could have ended the last chapter where I ended it here but once I officially place a chapter on here I'm done with it. This was going to be a much longer chapter but it felt better to cut it in half. Chapter 12: Prepare for Flare is my longest chapter and was even hard for me to keep it together. I can't tell you how many times I went back and forth on how I wanted to go about it, the end result was putting both stories the twerp's and Meowth's together in one chapter. The "amazing" saga chapters would have been much longer and probably much more confusing with all that has been going on if I kept it at its original length.

    Fair warning Ash and all his friends maybe out of character again in this chapter, you will probably see why once the situation comes up which I will explain my reasons at the end of this chapter. I've heard that the main cast is much more mature in their desicion making including Ash when it comes to battles and that he has become...dare I say it smarter? Well he did make it to the finals but I would be shocked if they actually let him win.

    While Ash's end goal is to reach Snowbelle City in this story and the show itself has past that stage. This story can fit pretty much anywhere, I only started it like that because the series was still in the master class whatever thing when I first posted it online. In hindsight I probably should have made the story more open ended on when it actually takes place for future readers but I figured it was best to give some actual placement, in any case if the Snowbelle City thing bothers you because it already happened just imagine a different gym or city, at the end of the day Ash's end goal doesn't effect the story in anyway.


    Chapter 18: The Amazing Mask of Secrets​

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    Meowth was certain he saw something; it looked like a razor leaf. He heard something fly as he saw something graze the rope that held the bridge together. He stopped running and looked back just in time to see what looked like another razor leaf slicing through one of the ropes.

    "HOLD ON TIGHT!" They were confused as to why and almost didn't follow through in time as the bridge dropped sideways.

    "AHHH!" They all screamed. Soon after that, Meowth heard another razor leaf slicing through the remaining rope.

    "AHHH!" They screamed as the bridge swung across to the side they were aiming for. Meowth was slammed into the wall of the canyon so hard as the pain shot through its shoulder causing it to slowly blackout. Meowth acted fast and bit itself so it wouldn't. If it did blackout it would fall, it repeated that notion to itself over and over again. It was so tired, but it gathered all the strength it needed to push itself. It grabbed onto the wood plank above and climbed the broken bridge like it was a ladder. Its shoulder was in excruciating pain with each move. As it made it to the top; it wanted to pass out but knew this was not the time or place to do so.

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    "Thanks for your help Noivern," Ash said as he called it back. Meowth moved towards the edge to look down. It was rubbing its aching shoulder as it tried to catch any sounds, any smells or any indication of who possibly did it. At the corner of its eye, it thought it saw a shadow move swiftly between the sharp rocks at the bottom of the gorge.

    ***Click, clack, click, clack***

    Footsteps that came from behind filled its ears as it turned around. Meowth quickly equipped itself with its poker face, pretending everything was normal. The stupid twerp along with his friends walked up to it. The question that was on their minds was obvious.

    "I heard someone use razor leaf, someone broke the bridge," Meowth answered before they could even ask. It stopped rubbing its shoulder so it wouldn't bring attention to itself.

    "So that's why you were…" Ash thought.

    "Who do you think could have done it?" Serena asked.

    "Well the bigger the user the louder it is, maybe it's those men from before." Meowth contemplated out loud.

    "Those men?" Dr. Pan inquired.

    "We traveled through here before but it was in a different part of the mountains. Three men on Tropius attacked us." Clemont explained.

    "Do you think they could be behind Team Rocket's disappearance?" He questioned as they all focused their attention onto the scratch cat Pokémon. Meowth avoided eye contact, flustered with the question. It has crossed his mind, the possibilities started to race through his mind as he became visibly melancholy as a tired expression decorated his features. A fingerless gloved hand appeared in the corner of his eye reaching out to pet him; Meowth quickly scratched the twerp as it batted him away.

    "Ow!" Ash winched eyeing his newly acquired scratch.

    "Quit Treating Me Like I'm Some Pet!" It snapped.

    The way Meowth handled itself was amazing. It just took charge and climbed up itself without waiting for any assistance. Ash just couldn't understand why it felt that he was the one suffocating it. That's the last thing he would ever want any Pokémon to feel around him. Meowth is away from Team Rocket and its flourishing before their eyes because of it and yet it feels he is suffocating it? That's at least one thing he can agree on with that man and Team Flare. Meowth would only waste away if it stayed with Jessie and James. It's intelligent and has so much untapped potential, it's the ideal Pokémon to train!

    "I just wanted to say thank you for warning us back there." He spoke softly as he rubbed his newly acquired scratch. Everyone nodded in agreement that if it wasn't for Meowth they wouldn't have made it.

    "Hey, that wound on your arm." The four-eyed twerp pointed towards Meowth's self-inflicted bite mark. Its shoulder was the real issue but the bruising wasn't showing just yet thanks to its fur.

    "It's nothing, really." Meowth brushed it off and started to walk away.

    "Wait, let us bandage it up for you." The twerp unknowingly grabbed it by its bad shoulder; Meowth swallowed its yelp as it winced at the pain. It turned around to bat him away. Ash instinctively rubbed his hand but saw that it was unscratched.

    "I don't want to stay here." It mumbled softly. It was brief but its moment of honesty was so timid as if it was just peeking over the wall it had built. Oh, how Ash would just love to take a sledgehammer and bash his way through. Taking into account of what just happened and who the culprits might be, its only natural that it doesn't want to stay here for too long.

    Ash thought back to his Infernape when it was a Chimchar. It was so timid in the beginning because of the way Paul treated it but after showing it kindness and letting it show its true feelings it was able to grow into a strong and powerful Pokémon. The only difference is, is that Meowth gets mad every time he tries to show some form of affection. So hugging it as he did with Chimchar and letting it cry it out wasn't going to happen anytime soon since Meowth would just blow a fuse as it did before, probably even worse. He looked at his hand that had some old scratches. Some were deep and some were small, sometimes Meowth didn't scratch him at all...maybe there is still a chance to reach it.

    The twerps have a knack of making Meowth regret doing good deeds. Their praises annoyed him. He only did what anyone else would have done. Just because they are enemies doesn't mean he is going to be heartless. Meowth took a deep breath to release its stresses over the fact; it had other things to worry about. Now he owed Team Oyama or to be technical he owed Mamoru. The guy didn't have to say it, Meowth was smart enough to understand that since the museum was under Mamoru's leadership, it wasn't Team Oyama that he made a fool of it was Mamoru himself. That's the thing with humans like him, their egos bruise easily, but unlike the twerps, agents don't hide it. It's one of the many reasons why Meowth prefers humans that work for teams. The twerps hide their selfish goals or try to glorify it because they did something good in order to gain what they got, but agents are not ashamed at all. They know what they want and will do whatever it takes to get it.

    "Shu, Shu," Its ears twitched as it heard a whisper.

    "Pika?" "De?" The electric rodents chimed in as they too heard it, gathering the humans' attention.

    "Shu, Shu." They heard it again; Meowth was the first one to walk towards the sound. It was a Pokémon, it knew this much and it was coming from a path that was going through another narrow canyon. There wasn't much of a choice of where to go and Meowth wasn't sure where to go from there so hearing a Pokémon's voice leading them into another narrow canyon was better than nothing. Meowth made its way to the entrance of the new path and saw it was a Shuckle.

    "Shu, Shu." It said. It was slightly larger than most Shuckle, with its yellow body being slightly fatter than most.

    "Uh…yes," Meowth shyly answered.

    "It's a Shuckle!" The mini twerp exclaimed causing the Shuckle to move backward ducking its head low. It then saw the rest of the humans with their Pokémon, which clearly made it nervous.

    "Shu, Shu."

    "What did it say?" Bonnie asked happily moving in to close for comfort for the Shuckle.

    "Bonnie you're making the Shuckle feel uncomfortable," Clemont told her. "It's wild, it's probably not familiar with humans."

    "Oh, but I'm no threat, I want to be its friend, right Dedenne." "De, De." It concurred.

    "Meowth, tell it that I want to be its friend."

    "Not all Pokémon wish to be friends with humans," Meowth stated nonchalantly as it stepped in between Bonnie and Shuckle.

    "But if you explained,"

    "No!" Meowth cuts her off.

    "I'm not here to help you spread your twerpy views onto other Pokémon. Seriously, it's not even five minutes and you're already making me regret helping you back there." Meowth had a talent to hit where it hurts the most. Bonnie's reaction was a tearful one as expected from a little girl, while the others looked on with disapproval.

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    They quietly followed the slow Pokémon. Luckily for them, Meowth was walking at Shuckle's pace and not high tailing it away in anger this time. Meowth observed Shuckle keeping its distance away from the humans, more so than Bidoof. This Shuckle was wearier of the humans as it always glanced over its shoulder, keeping a steady eye on their movements as they walked behind the Pokémon. He felt his aggravation rising as the anticipation of hurdles that he will have to jump over were coming his way.

    "Shu, Shu." It stopped as it turned to face an opening to a cave. The ground started to vibrate as heavy footsteps were heard. A Golett emerged from the cave giving an indication that they can enter. The humans followed the Pokémon but were stopped as Golett used rockslide by slamming its fist into the wall causing rocks to fall onto them.

    "AHH!" They screamed as they backed off avoiding the attack as much as they could.

    "Please tell it we mean no harm." Dr. Pan spoke franticly as he hid behind Serena. "I really want to see what's inside the cave."

    "Ugh…he's worse than James." Meowth thought annoyingly as it observed the archeologist's cowardly behavior that was way too similar to James.

    "Golett, Golett, Go, Go, Golett, Lett!" It growled.

    "Pika!" "De, De!" They threatened as sparks of electricity started coming out of their cheeks.

    "You two are no help," Meowth mumbled uncaringly. "It won't allow humans to enter."

    "But I mean no harm. I really would like to see if there are any new discoveries inside. Can't you work something out like you did with the Bouffalant?"

    "That was different, it was just you and you're an idiot. Now there are more idiots and they're Pokémon trainers."

    "Hey, there's no need to be mean, I'm not an idiot!" He whined defensively.

    "Says The Idiot Who Travels Through Mountains Without Pokémon!" Meowth shot back.

    "Now you just sound like my boss!" Dr. Pan blubbered idiotically as he cried wiping away his tears with his white handkerchief.

    "You know what," Bonnie whispered slyly to her brother and friends "Meowth does have a point, he is an idiot."

    "Now that you mention it, doesn't Dr. Pan remind you of anyone?" Clemont asked as they all pondered over the question.

    "Come on Meowth, we promise we won't do anything." Serena pleaded on behalf of everyone. Meowth sighed as it turned to the growling Golett.

    "How about a compromise? If you let them all in they will leave every item and Pokémon that they have out here or you could allow up to two of the humans to go in while the others stay out here." Golett looked at the humans and back at Meowth as it pondered over the suggestion.

    "Golett, Golett?"

    "Uh…yes, I am." Meowth answered as he avoided eye contact. "I work for Team Rocket. I've helped your team before."

    "Golett, Golett, Go, Go, Let, Golett, Gol, Golett."

    "It says it will allow one of you to come in but you still have to leave all of your items and Pokémon out here."

    "Why do we need to leave all of our stuff behind? Just who is this team and since when did you help them?" Ash questioned as he felt the hot rage and feelings of resentment threatening to resurface.

    "Look, I don't make the rules around here. This is how it's going to be. You can refuse. You can go and resume your quest to get gym badges." Meowth calmly suggested as Ash tightly clenched his fists while Dr. Pan happily dropped all of his belongings.

    Meowth sighed, "I'm not trying to trick you. Every day you twerps make me regret trying to work together since the beginning of this ordeal. I should have just stolen a Pokémon or anything, really anything. That's really all I had to do and you know it!" Meowth's calm voice rose in volume as it snapped at them. Meowth then covered its eyes as it pressed its paws against them briefly as it shook its head. It took a deep breath then exhaled as it looked back at them.

    "Golett is a Pokéteer and a majority of Pokéteers don't trust humans." It said as it returned to its calm voice. "The only humans they trust are the agents that they were assigned to. Pokéteers are just different from your average wild Pokémon. One human with no Pokémon of his own in an open space is one thing but when you have five and three of them are trainers in a tight space like a cave creates unwanted anxiety. Seriously, for a couple of Pokémon trainers, you're really dense." Meowth explained the situation calmly and simplified it as best as he could, but couldn't hold back on his insult. They looked to Golett as it was swaying its body left to right agitatedly as it kept a watchful eye on them. Shuckle was the closest to the entrance of the cave observing the situation, it too seems nervous as it kept its head lowered. The only one that wasn't fearful of them was Meowth. If Meowth didn't know them would it have been fearful as well? What do these organizations do to these Pokémon to make them feel this way?

    "You twerps are really getting on my last nerve. I didn't explain it to you so you can somehow fix a problem that isn't there. If you're not going to comply then leave." It said distastefully as it witnessed the twerps' emotions rise to the surface.

    "You're unbelievable, how can you not see that this is a problem!?" Ash demanded.

    "SHUT UP!" Meowth shouted frustratingly. "I'm in no mood to argue the differences in our values and I'm most definitely not in the mood to be preached to by some condescending twerp either! This is how things are and this is how things are going to stay. If you're not going to comply with the compromise then leave."

    "Go!" "Shu!" They chimed in unison.

    Ash's hard glare was fixated on the blue-eyed feline. Ash was furious to its claims and its stubbornness made things even worse. But it wasn't the only one since the other two Pokémon weren't going to budge either. He couldn't tell if this was just one of Meowth's latest attempts to get under his skin…it was working but was it on purpose this time? Either way, he wasn't going to let it have its way. He took off his backpack, took off his belt that contained his Pokémon and set Pikachu on the ground. Petting it on the head with a smirk, letting it know everything was all right. He turned to face Meowth who was clearly still aggravated.

    "I'm not going anywhere! I'll go inside the cave with you." He declared, not realizing he took away Dr. Pan's glory of exploring the cave. The Pokémon led the way as Ash followed them in, leaving Pikachu and his friends behind.

    ***Sob, Sob***

    "But I wanted to go in!" Dr. Pan cried into his white handkerchief.

    "You guys see it right?" Clemont whispered to the girls as they nodded.

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    The ordinary cave had crystals and quartz the deeper they went in. It was a lot like the bunker that Meowth was in with Bidoof and Dwebble. There were many little holes on the sides and on the ground caused by the Diglett and Dugtrio that they saw passing them by every so often. Thankfully this cave had old lights that were spread out by humans for humans to see where they were going. They reached the main shaft of the cave, which contained crates, food supplies and hiking gear for humans. Shuckle disappeared into its red shell to take out gems and other rare stones that it was carrying inside its shell.

    "Golett!" It shouted and the ground started to shake as Diglett popped out of the ground taking the gems and rare stones with them. Ash was puzzled to what he was seeing unfold as Meowth watched glamorously as he knew it was the most glorious scheme ever.

    "Shu, Shu."

    "Golett." They said to each other as they both formed the Pokéteer pledge to one another. They then turned to Meowth ready to explain but Meowth stopped them as he raised a paw.

    "You don't have to explain anything, Bidoof and Dwebble told me all about it and I must say you guys rock!" Giving them the thumbs up.

    "What's going on? Since when did you meet a Dwebble?" Ash asked since he was clearly out of the loop.

    "It's so Amazing!" It clearly didn't hear him.

    "The SS&S is truly one of my favorites, nothing beats an old classic scheme," Meowth exclaimed admiring their work.

    "SCHEME!?" Ash exclaimed.

    "What Scheme? Explain Yourself! What is the SS&S?" Ash demanded. Meowth was taken out of its blissful state too soon as it turned to the twerp unhappily.

    "Relax twerp, it's on a need to know basis. You're only here out of the kindness of Golett so keep your high and mighty opinions to yourself!" It snapped at him quickly so it could return to its delighted state, absorbing all the badness of a perfectly executed scheme as stars of complete admiration filled its eyes. It was so full in its own daze not realizing the danger it was in as Ash's anger levels were rising.

    "So let me guess, is that code for all of this stuff was stolen?"

    "Oh, will you just SHUT UP Already!"

    Golett disappeared only to reappear with a thin limestone mask that was very old looking.

    "Golett, Go, Let, Golett." It explained as it handed the mask to Meowth.

    "Shu, Shu."

    "What's it saying?" Ash asked while trying to calm himself down.

    "It's what Mamoru wanted in return for the Team Rocket doppelganger."

    "We're not helping you commit a crime!" Ash stated heatedly. "So his name is Mamoru."

    "Shu!" It hit Ash in the face with a rock.

    "Ah…Why you…Pikachu use…oh, that's right."

    "Well what do you know, Golett's reason of caution was proven to be correct," Meowth said in a criticizing tone as Ash glared at it while not willing to let go of the new development at hand.

    "It wasn't stolen," Meowth spoke casually.

    "Golett, Go, Go, Golett." "Shu, Shu."

    "They're saying that this needs to be returned to one of their clients, who lives in a village that's going to be hard to get to." Meowth translated.

    "Huh…I haven't done a mission like this in a long time." It spoke softly to itself.

    "But you shouldn't have to repay someone just because they helped you."

    "Tch…I told you twerps before, nothing in life is free. They are risking a lot by helping me. I know you don't care about the well being of the teams in general but the world of Team Rocket works differently than your world. The fact that they are interfering with Team Flare on my behalf is a far greater deal than you realize. It is only fair that I do something for them in return." Meowth explained.

    "You shouldn't have to repay people by stealing. If people are helping you just to get something in return than they're not really helping you in the first place." Ash spoke calmly trying to explain the errors of the ways of the organizations, hoping that his voice of reason will somehow break through its stubbornness.

    "That kind of thinking is illogical, in fact, it's hypocritical. No one helps anyone just for the heck of it. They do it with the hopes of something to gain. It doesn't have to be tangible, it can be as simple as getting recognition. It's only natural that one wants a reward for what they do. You say you wish to help me but you twerps have a price of your own when it comes down to it. You're not doing it out of the kindness of your own heart, you were even under the false impression when we made our deal that I would act like one of your loyal pets. You even forced me into doing plays and sporting events that I wanted nothing to do with."

    "I didn't make you do those things because I felt that you owed me. What the organizations do is wrong, why can't you understand that? Lying, Cheating, Stealing and giving others the means to pull off a crime is wrong. Hurting Pokémon to the point where they are terrified of humans is also wrong! And what's even worse they force you to do all of these crimes, can't you see your nothing but tools to them. They don't care about your well being at all, they just want you to do the work for them and you do it to gain their protection."

    "How is that any different from what you do!? You capture Pokémon and then they battle for you. They save you from falling off a cliff, they transport you from island to island, they'll do anything for you and what do you do for them in return? You feed them, care for them, and you protect them from danger. So what if we lie, cheat or steal, we do it because we want to. We are not pets…we belong to no one! And there is no way we are ever going to change that for the likes of you!" Meowth shouted viciously as the other Pokémon nodded in agreement.

    They gained an audience over time as a few Diglett, Dugtrio, and Aron heard their fight echo through the halls of the Team Oyama owned cave. They watched intensely along with Shuckle and Golett. Some of the spectators studied the familiar Rocketeer before them. Listening to it talk like a human to a human who was an outsider. It was a rare sighting to see such an anomaly to occur. The spectators felt the anger that was laced within their words as they absorbed the toxic energy. Some started to growl towards the strange human that smelled of multiple Pokémon. He was a trainer and he was in their home preaching to them. Some of the Pokémon started to stomp their feet, ready to charge. This trainer needs to leave their home. No human should be here.

    Ash looked around and finally took notice of all the eavesdroppers and their agitated expressions. They were unhappy with him as some of them began to growl. Meowth took notice as well and decided to stop its banter. It was way past its limit, the twerp infuriated it so much it was almost unbearable.

    "I can't wait to be back with Jessie and James!" It thought, "Anymore of this and I think I might explode."

    "I want to help you," Ash whispered before looking straight into fierce blue eyes with brown eyes stirred with mixed emotions of his own.

    "If Team Flare or anyone else tries to come and take you away, you know I will protect you. We'll find Team Rocket, we'll find them together but I can't ignore all the bad things they do. Even so, it won't change the fact that I do want to help you." He spoke with sincerity. He stared at it for a moment then looked away as he stared at his shoes. He clenched his shaking fists a few times as his despair ate away his optimism. He squeezed his eyes shut as he pushed the dark feelings away then looked back up at the scratch cat Pokémon.

    "You're stuck with me from here on out and nothing you can do will change that." He spoke confidently as Meowth felt a burning itch to scratch his face as it squeezed the mask between its paws.

    "I understand you're going through a lot right now, what happened to you was awful and the fact that those men may be behind it is a scary thought that I'm sure is going through your mind. I understand that you're frustrated right now, I've always felt that way when you stole Pikachu from me so I understand…"

    "You will never understand what I'm going through!" Meowth screamed as it cuts him off.

    "You will never understand the dynamics of the organizations that exist throughout our world. The battles, the challenges it's all different. But why would a self-righteous twerp like you want to understand the ways of the big bad organizations like Team Rocket? You want me to tell you how I'm feeling? How dare you! You act as if you're doing me a big favor by being here. I know you have this weird tendency of wanting to be a hero all the time but are you really that desperate in wanting to be everyone's hero?" It inquired viciously.

    "It's not that I want to be a hero, it's about doing the right thing and helping those who are in need."

    "Then Go Where Your Help Is Needed!" Meowth snapped.

    "I Already Am!" Ash snapped back.

    "How Dare You!" Meowth was beyond furious.

    "Since when did you ever care about my wellbeing? You never took an interest in me before, how Dare You act like you Care!" It shouted, stomping its foot hard at the word 'care'. The ground shook a little, probably due to the movement from the other Diglett and Dugtrio. "You would have never searched for me if it weren't for Hawlucha and Pancham disappearing on you that day."

    "That's not true! I wanted to search for you." Ash countered.

    "Liar!" Meowth exclaimed accusingly. "Says the twerp who believed some kid was a messenger for Team Rocket!"

    Ash couldn't respond as he was trying to find the right words, it seemed like he was running out of options. His body was trembling with anguish as his own set of rage battled it out within him. It's true he believed that but he also believed what it said before their fight that night.

    "I want to understand…" its voice echoed through his head.

    "I believed that too…that was the real you." He looked down as the lid of his hat covered his eyes.

    "I wanted to search for you." He whispered to himself. Meowth squeezed the mask between its paws, it was so angry that it wanted to scream. It couldn't take it anymore, it was all too overwhelming to bear. It looked up to see the concern expressions of the other Pokémon as Shuckle came up to it.

    "Shu, Shu." It said.

    There was so much to be done, it can't stop now and whine about its problems. It looked at the twerp who had his head down with the lid of his hat covering his eyes. The twerp wasn't crying but he was visibly shaking, probably because Mr. Goodie Tushu's hates anything and everything dealing with Team Rocket. It is safe now but once they leave the cave the twerp will call on his Pokémon to provide Meowth with even more obstacles. Meowth took a deep breath then exhaled slowly. It has to calm down and let go of the heavy burden of stress over the matter. In order to succeed in this new mission, it needs to make peace with the annoying twerp. Meowth tightened its grip onto the mask at the idea. The twerp means well but to be with him this long is infuriating. It observed the limestone mask in its paws. It had the north star carved on its forehead, not wanting to overthink it Meowth took another deep breath to calm itself down. Meowth bit its lip at the idea of what must be done as it swallowed the lump in its throat.

    "The mask wasn't stolen twerp, they really do just need it to be returned to its owner." It started to explain softly.

    "Mamoru is a jerk, I'm not doing this for him." Meowth paused for a moment. "Well I guess technically I am but I'm doing it for them too." He looked to Golett and Shuckle.

    "I want to help them. We work for different teams but our struggles and desires are the same…I think…I'm starting to understand." It spoke with a whole lot of sincerity.

    Ash looked up and saw the warmth that existed in its heart as well as the other Pokémon. The heated battle within himself melted away as he felt calmer. While he didn't approve of their actions, the kind nature that exists within each and every Pokémon here was clear to see. That good nature within these Pokémon was being abused by the likes of Team Rocket. That didn't sit well with him, but it seemed that there was more going on here than meets the eye. He wants to know, but getting any kind of information has been difficult with an uncooperative Meowth.

    "I think I'm beginning to understand." Meowth thought happily as it looked at the mask that had small holes for the eyes. Curious to see the world through the tiny slits for human eyes, it then lifted the mask up to place it on its face playfully. As if his body had a mind of its own, Ash ran up to it and smacked the mask away as he placed his arms around it. He shocked everyone including himself as he felt Meowth's body tense up so quickly that it was stiff to his touch.

    Meowth held its breath as its muscles tightened. It was confused by what just happened. Strong human arms were wrapped around its abdomen as the twerp leaned his head against its own. It felt so small as its back was against the twerp's chest, feeling the texture of his hair and skin rubbing against its soft fur. He held it tightly without petting it but this sensation that humans give when touching it was unpleasant. To be held by something large was odd, it felt like Meowth was going to be engulfed by a heavyweight. A human's way of showing their affection is to pet a Pokémon, Meowth can do without the demeaning practice...at least from most humans. Meowth felt the immediate urge to bite the twerp's arm for doing such a daring act but refrained itself. It didn't like this but to waste energy on something trivial was not a luxury Meowth has at the moment.

    "Get off of me." It whispered a half-baked warning. The twerp remained on the ground sitting on his knees as he followed through. Meowth released the air that was held within its lungs as its muscles relaxed. It turned around and slapped him in the face, leaving a small scratch behind. Ash winced at the pain but it wasn't as bad as he thought it would be. He placed a hand over his scratched cheek as he watched Meowth who in return glared at him before going to pick up the mask that was discarded onto the ground. It seemed that Meowth was willing to go easy on him but not so much since it was in front of Pokémon that probably had the same disapprovals of human contact like Baltoy had.

    The scratch stung a little but it didn't stop a small smile that began to take form. He thought it would have exploded into a screaming frenzy but it didn't. A small light of hope glimmered at the idea that they can somehow come together as friends. That one day the idea of catching it under good terms wasn't so farfetched after all. Meowth isn't like the others, maybe it's due to its ability to talk. It seemed to be more open-minded about humans in general compared to Baltoy and the other Pokémon they have met. Or maybe it was just because of their past together that Meowth wasn't as nervous like the other Pokémon. That was a saddening thought. What if Meowth didn't know him? Ash pushed the idea aside as he watched the other Pokeémon disappear. To be so uncomfortable around humans bothered him as Ash wondered about the possible atrocities that organizations like Team Rocket do to make Pokémon act this way. Baltoy thought Meowth's speed and abilities were awful. How so? It was incredible! It said that Meowth would have failed if it were being tested. Tested for what? What kind of tests do they take? Whenever Ash felt like he was finally starting to understand, it felt like there were more secrets being added on to make it even more confusing. He hated the organizations and all the evil things they have done but he had to admit there might be more to Team Rocket than meets the eye.

    "It's cracked." Meowth mumbled sadly as he picked it up. Golett and Shuckle looked over his shoulder to see the damage.

    "Shuuu, Shu, Shu."

    "Golett."

    "Oh good, I'm glad it's not a big deal," Meowth answered.

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    Ash was greeted by Pikachu who jumped into his arms the minute he came out of the cave.

    "Pika Pi!" It cried, it then noticed the tiny scratch on his cheek and knew immediately who the culprit was. "PIKA!" It growled.

    "Don't worry Pikachu its not as bad as it looks," Ash said to calm his friend down.

    "Pikachu." It said sadly as it started to lick his wound.

    "Ha, Ha Pikachu!" Ash giggled at the warm affection he received from his friend as he stroked its back gently in a warm hug.

    "Yuck! I think I'm going to be sick." Meowth watched in disgust.

    "How can Pokémon degrade themselves like that?" Meowth turned to the Oyateers and the scene disturbed them too. They told him that the town was only reachable through a cave, but there were tricks to it. They told him that it will be challenging to get through but as a Pokéteer he should be able to get through it just fine.

    "Golett, Golett, Go, Go, Let, Gol, Golett, Go." "Shu, Shu." Meowth gasped slightly to himself as they repeated what so many have said before them.

    "What did they say?" The twerp asked.

    "Timing is everything." Meowth translated unintentionally. "What is today will become yesterday tomorrow."

    "Isn't that what Anthony said before we parted ways?" The twerpette questioned.

    "What does that even mean?" Clemont inquired.

    "It sounds like it could be a riddle." Dr. Idiot answered. Meowth's mind started to fill itself with doubts once again, not sure if he was up to the task to perform at the level that is expected of Pokéteers. He is not strong enough. He was confident before because he always saw the path in his dreams, a strange phenomenon in itself. There was a cave in the dreams too but how he ended up at the cave was always a blur. He can't do this on his own. Who will guide him now?

    "Golett, Golett." It said as it placed a finger onto his koban, snapping Meowth out of his daze.

    "Huh?" He said as a spark of light flickered at its touch.

    "Whoa!" The bystanders exclaimed. Dr. Pan quickly took out his notepad to write down the experience as he continued to watch in awe as if artifacts he studied before were coming to life before his very eyes. Golett removed itself from Meowth's koban and began to tap the yellow swirl on its body, which flickered a light as well.

    "Golett, Go, Golett, Golett, Let." It said reassuringly as it pointed to the sky.

    "Golett, Golett, Go, Golett." It said as it placed its finger on the koban once more to let it spark its light once again.

    "Golett!" It declared, pounding its fist against its chest.

    "Pika?" "De, De?" They questioned as Meowth listened intently as Golett explained the sun's light is within everyone and that the sun, the stars, and the moon all work together to guide them. True Pokéteers are capable of overcoming anything because they are as steady as the mountains that the sun shines its light on. Meowth was touched by Golett's words of encouragement. Like magic he felt like the light that sparked from his koban cleared his doubts away.

    "I can do this...I can do this." He chanted to himself, it was quiet but Meowth could have sworn he heard a voice say:

    (Yes you can!)

    "What's it saying?" Someone asked but Meowth didn't pay attention to who it was as Golett and Shuckle both preformed the Pokéteer pledge. Meowth followed through and gave his pledge to them as well as a paw, a rock fist, and a yellow limb came together forming a little pact.

    "Interesting, I saw it preform that gesture with the Bouffalant." Dr. Pan whispered to himself as he excitedly wrote down everything.

    "The Bouffalant?" Ash overheard him, he decided to let it go but kept it in mind seeing that there was so much more to these mountains than he realized.

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    "Go, Go!" "Shuuu!"

    "And that's it?" Meowth asked as both Pokémon nodded happily. "Well okay then, that sounds simple enough."

    "Golett, Go?"

    "Oh, okay."

    "Shuu." "Golett, Let." Meowth nodded to their back and forth conversation as Ash and his friends watched confusingly since they only understood what Meowth was saying who was not doing a very good job interpreting for them.

    "GOLETT!" "SHU!" They cheered.

    "I think I got it," Meowth said nervously as he was overloaded with too much information. He wasn't sure if he can remember it all but he reminded himself that he used to do missions like this all the time before he became partners with Jessie and James. He almost felt nostalgic.

    "What's this feeling?" He asked himself, it felt warm like an ember that was once burnt out but was now regrowing inside him.

    "This feeling…" It felt so familiar as he remembered the nights when he was once "Top Cat" roaming the city.

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    Author notes:

    Ash and his friends were probably out of character for a lot of you here since we all know when it comes to stealing, the organizations etc. Ash is no pushover and most likely would not have given the benefit of the doubt in that kind of situation. He would have been the hot-headed tempered twerp that he is and not give it a second thought. But hopefully I written it well enough to show why he is letting some of it slide. He doesn't know who Mamoru works for, he didn't even know the guy's name because it was said before they got there. All the secrecy is happing right in front of them and its overwhelming to them in their own right. So in a way they have their own curiosities about what is really going on. In a lot of ways this could be considered out of character for the main cast and I get that but hopefully they don't come off too occ.

    Meowth hiding its wounds maybe considered to be out of character, from what I remember I don't think I ever saw it wanting to be taken care of when it was vulnerable. I know it was wounded in the beginning of Unova and when the first encounter of Malmar happened but nothing said anything about it willing to be cared for. Again I haven't watched the recent seasons but my reasonings behind it is in fact because it doesn't what to seem vulnerable. Its a wild Pokémon and its a cat, cats are naturally both prey and predator so showing weaknesses like limping etc. is not wise. Now add the Pokémon factor into the mix, being injured or tired would just give a trainer the incentive to capture it and it knows this. So again I haven't seen the recent episodes and am only going by from what I remember and the only time I remember it being injured was during a episode when a Miltank took care of Pokémon and even in front of Pokémon it wasn't willing to accept help right away. The other time was when its koban was stuck in its head, but it wasn't injured if memory serves it was just upset that its "charm" was gone. Its been awhile since I've seen an episode so I could be remembering it wrong.
    Chapter 19
    Author notes:

    Pippin pouch: I made this up obviously, and yes its slightly inspired by Mary Poppins with her bag but that's not want I'm trying to do with this little thing. This is just an introduction of how I intend to expand the evil organizations in the the Pokémon world. I thought there was always a lot of room to expand on them in general on how they function, how they came to be and what tools they use that are different from your average Pokémon trainer. Much like the parchment paper I introduced earlier...its all about being secretive, cunning etc. with them. Maybe its the sadistic side of me but the evil organizations always intrigued me and I've always wished they dived into it more in the anime.


    Chapter 19: The Amazing Caves and their Secrets​

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    It was a little difficult to pry Dr. Pan away from the cave but Ash convinced him there was nothing of interest for him inside. They passed a few other caves along the way and Dr. Pan wanted to explore them all. He was like a kid in a candy store, but Meowth ignored the man's pleas of wanting to explore at random.

    "I don't care!" It would say.

    "I'm not helping you on your stupid expedition. If you want to explore the caves so badly then go do it yourself!" It would shout viciously. It was safe to say that its attitude was not received well as Ash would feed into the banter as the gang nervously watched another fight break out.

    Meowth was on a mission. He didn't care if the twerps got angry or that Dr. Idiot wanted to explore the area. He can go right ahead but Meowth wasn't going to participate or wait for him. The sooner he delivers the mask the better. A village meant human civilization and where there are humans there are maps. After this mission, he can return to finding his friends. They are in Anbero City waiting for him, he has to hurry. Meowth concentrated on the sounds that surrounded him. He can hear it, the sounds of water moving within fast rapids or slow currents. Golett and Shuckle said that a river can be heard but not seen. To get to the town, he must follow the sound of the river for it will lead him into the lowest parts of the mountains.

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    A few days have past and the routine was the same. Each time Meowth was forced to stop for a break and each time during the morning or evening Ash tried to bring the Pokémon together only to have them drift apart even further. Ash would give it the soup-like mixture and to his surprise, the small pouch contained a lot. Since there was no place for Meowth to run and hide it saw the little tea bag was what agents tend to use. It was a pippin pouch, a bag that's small but can contain more than its size. Meowth started to wonder if Saul really was retired, but then also remembered Clio has a brother and that maybe he is an agent for Team Solaris. It wasn't uncommon, most families connected to an organization would have more than one family member involved. Meowth stopped itself from overthinking it too much, its mind was at its capacity filled with the "what ifs" and "maybes" adding any more would just make it go nuts. Nevertheless, Meowth figured it would be best to keep the identity of the pippin pouch to himself.

    Since it was drinking the herbal remedy that contained vegetables and other nutrients, the gang was willing to back off a little. They would try to offer it something more but Meowth would still decline. However, their worries of it exhausting itself like it did before lessened. For a remedy that Meowth only had to take in the morning and at night did show improvements. Meowth was moving at a faster pace then it did before and to see such a difference led to them feeling guilty. If only they realized it sooner. Now they can see that the energy that Meowth has lost is slowly returning a bounce in its step once more.

    Meowth still wasn't as talkative but it's all a work in progress. Who knows how much longer they must travel through these mountains. Cularo Town was miles behind them now so turning back was pointless. Not to mention difficult. It seemed like time may be on his side. Temporary can always change to permanent. Everything does happen for a reason so Ash believed he must make the most of it. To have everything go back to the way they were wasn't an ideal concept. He would prefer that they stop pestering him all the time. How long has it been anyway? He can't remember a time where Team Rocket didn't get in his way. As each day passed Meowth remained aloof, trying to start any form of conversation ended in similar results of short responses or none at all. Ash felt his patience being tested as his friends urged him to remain calm.

    "Don't push it." Serena would whisper to him as he would grit his teeth, holding in the retort he wishes to say. Meowth certainly did have a knack to push the right buttons once in a while. She was right, to push it any further will lead him nowhere. He needs to build slowly but the process feels like he is going at a Slowpoke's pace. Nevertheless, he will keep trying and soon it will pay off, soon he will be able to train it. His blood boiled with excitement at the thought of what kind of strategies they could come up with.

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    With more and more days passing by the repetitive nature within the group was wearing everyone down. However, the idea of returning a Pokémon to Team Rocket so it can steal from them again continued to loom over their heads. Meowth wants to return to Team Rocket and if that is what it wants then they should respect its wishes. It's a simple notion to follow if one can ignore the crimes of Team Rocket. Meowth is still a wild Pokémon anyone of them can catch it. It's a simple notion to follow as well, however, wouldn't that make them just as bad as Team Rocket if they ignored Meowth's wishes? They have been traveling together for a while and despite Meowth's cold demeanor, it has peaked their curiosities. There was an air of impenetrable mystery surrounding the scratch cat Pokémon. Why did it join Team Rocket? Why so loyal to a group that gains nothing but defeat? Wouldn't catching it be better in the long run?

    All it takes is one. Anyone of them can do it. Bonnie can picture it as Meowth would be able to translate what any Pokeémon was saying. It could even teach her how to speak Pokémon. Together they can talk to any pretty girl's Pokémon to help play matchmaker for her nerdy brother. All the possibilities circulated throughout her mind. Whether it was her brother, Serena or Ash it was like Meowth could fit anywhere. It was like the missing piece to the puzzle of their small group. Even Dr. Pan made it into a few ideas.

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    Each and every night Meowth would be haunted by the same dreams of him lost in a cave. A new one came one night, a sad woman was overlooking a town as she basked in the moonlight. Meowth couldn't move as he watched the shadows of the townspeople carrying lanterns pass him by.

    "Shine the light" It heard a voice say, was it the woman?

    "I'll be waiting for you." Meowth would then wake up and ever since that one night, whatever he felt in the dream came with him into reality. The dreams felt real, the feeling in his body or lack thereof felt real. Was he awake? The twerps being around seemed to answer that question. Or could it be just another nightmare and he hasn't woken up? Meowth would pinch himself just to see. He would feel the small sting but also the sharp pain from his aching shoulder.

    "At least it's not one of my hind legs." He thought as he counted his lucky stars as he felt the numbness in his legs disappear as the sunlight grew stronger. Its self-inflicted bite mark healed rather quickly, it wasn't big or anything but the twerps insisted on wasting bandages. They weren't sure how it got a wound like that from a crash into the rock wall but Meowth quickly reassured them that it was from rubbing against something sharp when he started to climb up. Once they were satisfied with their twerpy deed of the day and were sound asleep, Meowth quickly removed the unnecessary first aid treatment.

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    It was a new day as everyone woke up refreshed. Meowth growled inwardly as he saw all their relaxed faces. If it weren't for those annoying dreams he would have high tailed it while they were asleep. Maybe he shouldn't go to sleep at all, he pondered over the idea even though the last time he tried he failed.

    "I'm so tired." He closed his eyes, feeling as if weights were placed over them. It would be nice if he could just sleep there for a few hours. To have a few minutes to himself would be even better. Even one minute of being humanless would suffice.

    Rock walls that were jagged bordered their surroundings but it was much more open compared to the narrow crevices from before. Everyone was working together to clean up camp as Meowth sat on one of the many boulders to watch. The twerps have given up on trying to get him to help out since it would only lead to another fight and more broken dinnerware. Meowth felt his patience draining as frustration took its place. Meowth took a deep breath to relax. It felt like he was doing that a lot these days. Breaking into a meaningless fight was exhausting and not something Meowth wanted to endure every day. Although fights were inevitable with the twerp's friendships goals. The twerp means well but to give him false hope would be cruel.

    The boulder Meowth was sitting on brought it to waist level as it watched the annoying man close in on it. His plea full stare said it all, Meowth knew what he wanted, he's been asking for the medallion and now the mask every day. The only reason why no one has forced it yet was because of Dr. Idiot. He preferred to have Meowth hand it over on its own terms. In that respect, Meowth didn't find the man too annoying, it was just uncomfortable to be around him. He was quiet and a bit smarter than James, but his corky characteristics and flamboyant nature were too unsettlingly similar. Even in his moments of being reserved, he was a lot like James. Out of the three of them, James was the quiet one, he did whatever the team wanted without complaints…most of the time. James was also easier to get along with in the beginning. Meowth got along with them both equally but it was James that Meowth was able to bond with first. Thinking about the rich boy who always looked for bargains sparked an idea as Meowth mentally prepared itself.

    "Would you please let me see that mask and medallion today? I promise I will be careful with them and to return them." He begged plea fully. Meowth took another deep breath and exhaled to relax, the man was never going to let up so it might as well get something out of the deal.

    "Fine." It mumbled in defeat.

    "Really?" Dr. Pan exclaimed gaining everyone's attention.

    "I'll let you study them for as long as you want, that is until we reach the town. However, I won't give them to you for free. For the medallion no more breaks until nightfall. For the mask, every morning I get a head start to walk on my own. I shouldn't have to be forced to be bored out of my mind waiting for you all to get your act together."

    "That sounds like a great plan." Dr. Pan exclaimed.

    "We're not doing that," Ash interjected. "I told you before that I'm not letting you out of my sight and after that run-in with that Mamoru character you can forget it."

    "Well if that's how you're going to be then you can forget it."

    "Wait what?" Dr. Pan's excitement levels dropped significantly. "But I'm okay with the deal, please Ash I think it's fair."

    "No, I'm the trainer and I'm the one that makes the rules."

    "I DON'T BELONG TO YOU!" Meowth shouted.

    "I really do need some time to myself if I'm going to be traveling with you twerps. Do you have any idea how suffocating it is to be with you all day? I can handle being separated or being targeted by every team out there but spending every waking second with you twerps is unbearable." He can't take it anymore! Always rolling with the punches has exceeded its limits. Meowth needed to get away from them. To be surrounded by hateful eyes every waking second was more painful than the pain in its shoulder. It's all exhausting!

    "I think it would be better if you talked to us," Ash spoke softly, trying to reach out in a comforting tone.

    "What good will it do you if you just keep it all inside? I will listen to you. I won't ignore what you have to say, no matter how long of a story it is, I won't get bored. I want to know, I want to understand. Instead of contemplating all the possibilities by yourself, you can talk to us. Maybe it's Team Flare or maybe it's those guys from before but whomever it is we will find Jessie and James together. You are not facing this alone, you have us." He spoke clearly with the utmost sincerity that he can muster as walked closer. "You don't have to be distant." He muttered as a small grin began to take form.

    With each step that the twerp took, Meowth clenched his paws tightly as he felt his claws pierce his own flesh. The wholehearted smile that decorated the twerp's features sent hot-blooded shivers down his spine. As the sun shined brightly in the sky he felt cold as if dark clouds overshadowed him. He can't take this anymore! Meowth maintained his complacent expression as he felt himself screaming inside as all the judging eyes surrounded him. They don't care, why would they? He can't take this anymore!

    "I'm here for you." Ash thought as he bent down slightly and started to reach out with a gentle hand to place on top of its head. "Just talk to me, we can work this out together." As he reached out to pet it Meowth hissed venomously as it slapped his hand away harder than it has ever done before.

    "OOOOWWWW!" Ash screamed in pain while Meowth winced slightly due to the pain in his shoulder. Ash teared up as he felt a strong sensation of a burning sting. He never thought that a scratch could be this painful. He held his arm tightly as everyone rushed to his aide while Meowth jumped off the boulder and proceeded to move on without them.

    "PIKA-CHUUU!" Pikachu shot a thunderbolt attack as a warning to stop Meowth in his tracks as every Pokémon surrounded him.

    "GET OUT OF MY WAY!" Meowth shouted.

    "I'm not staying here and you can't make me! None of you wanted me around to begin with!" He shouted angrily at the growling Pokémon. They shouted their insults, threating him if he takes another step it's over. Most of them had more than enough of the scratch cat Pokémon and they wanted it gone as Pikachu, Greninja and a few others prepared themselves for an easy battle. Meowth crushed his ears into his head, trying to squeeze his head as if the stress was about to make him explode. He didn't want to hear them anymore! He didn't want to see them anymore! He didn't want to smell them anymore!

    "I CAN'T TAKE THIS ANYMORE!" He screamed.

    "I HATE YOU! I HATE YOU ALL! I Rather Be Carried Off By Team Flare Than To Stay Another Minute With You!" It spun itself around in place so the dirt from the ground would pick up, making it hard to see. It then used its flash as brightly as it can, blinding everyone. It almost seemed like the light multiplied but they couldn't tell, after the dust cleared up Meowth was gone.

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    Meowth ran fast following the trail that was told to him by Golett and Shuckle. He didn't stop, he wanted to get as much distance between them as possible. He knew that the twerp had three flyers but Meowth didn't care he just needed to get away. Meowth stopped suddenly, he was picking up strange sounds, his ears twitched.

    **Click-clack, click-clack**

    Those were footsteps. Meowth's body froze at the thought of who it might be. He scurried behind a large pointed boulder as a pile of large rocks surrounded him. Between the cracks he watched a large boulder move to the side, revealing it was blocking a cave as a man covered in all black from head to toe exited out of the cave.

    "It's one of them!" Meowth thought, his body began to tremble as the fear took hold of his being. Meowth crouched down as low as he could, hoping that he won't be seen. He then heard the sound of a Poké Ball releasing a large Pokémon. Meowth caught the scent and it wasn't a grass type. Meowth wasn't sure what it was but it heard the wings flap and the man and Pokémon flew away quickly. Meowth opened his eyes only to catch something green flying away. Meowth tried to focus himself to catch the scent but the man's scent was covered and Meowth's sense of smell wasn't that good to pick up the individual's scent that is no longer present. The scent of the Pokémon was familiar but he wasn't able to place it. Meowth's sense of smell was limited, he had the ability to pick up scents just like any other Pokémon but he didn't have the ability to remember everything he smelled, he was no Rockruff. Nevertheless, this wasn't a safe place to stick around so Meowth continued to run.

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    The sound of the hidden river started to grow louder just like the Oyateers said it would. The loud thrashing became calmer as Meowth felt that the distance was good enough. If the twerp sent out his flying Pokémon to look for it, which he most likely will then they will most likely find it in a few minutes. However, the distance should take the twerps about a good hour if they ran or maybe more since they need a break every five seconds. Meowth felt a twinge of envy of how luxurious the twerps have it. The soothing sound of the water in the river made was calming as Meowth listened to it. The sunlight was warm as it shined on his back as if it was trying to hug him. Despite the little scare he had back there and his recent outburst Meowth truly felt peaceful.

    "This is what I needed." He thought as he felt his breathing become more relaxed as a tear escaped, which surprised him. Meowth didn't think this needed to be a tearful moment, but his soul apparently did.

    As he walked further ahead he soon came across some drawings on the rock walls. They were old drawings and looked like people playing with Pokémon in the sunlight. Meowth studied it for a bit but didn't stick around for long. He then came across another drawing and this time the people were hugging their Pokémon in the moonlight. It was odd but the picture of the moon gave Meowth a warm fuzzy feeling as he observed the humans hugging the Pokémon in a loving way. Even in old drawings, the moon had a strange power over him. He jumped up on one of the rocks to get closer to the picture of the moon. He touched it with his paw and unconsciously leaned in to kiss it like a human. He then laid his cheek against it as he closed his eyes.

    "Please protect me." He thought as if this was as close to a hug from the moon he can get. He took a deep breath, breathing in the clean air of the mountains and feeling the warm light of the sun against his soft fur. He felt his eyelids grow heavy, he could sleep like this but he sighed before removing himself. He wished he could stay longer but the sound of footsteps echoed, signaling him to leave.

    He looked at the moon one last time thinking, "I can do this!" He declared, as if he was promising the moon he will not fail his mission.

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    It wasn't long after his peaceful moment with the moon that he made it to the location that was always in his dreams. He was in the lowest part of the mountains, surrounded by rock walls blocking his view of everything around him with the exception of the opening that showed him the mountains that also haunted his dreams in the east. There wasn't one cave that was in front of him but three caves in the barren valley that he stood in. Meowth took a deep breath and exhaled, looking at his surroundings he saw another old drawing but this time it was of the north star. It was the same design as the medallion it was holding. Other stars surrounded it as there were mountains drawn below the night sky. The north star had lines near it indicating that it was on the move, which was odd since the north star is not supposed to move. It was moving to the right according to the picture, so Meowth followed it. It led him to another picture that had three mountain peaks at the bottom with the north star in the center of the sky. Meowth thought that maybe these drawings were clues that maybe since it got the medallion through solving clues that maybe finding the hidden village through these caves were also apart of the scavenger hunt. Meowth turned to look at the caves that haunted his dreams, they all had the north star above each entrance so that wasn't any help. Meowth took out the mask he was supposed to deliver, it too had the north star on the forehead, and it was where it was cracked. Meowth touched it gently, reminding himself he used to do missions like this all the time. Memories of him jumping across the rooftops in the city as the moonlight guided his way flooded his mind.

    "But that's not me anymore." He thought but he felt nostalgic as he remembered the days of him being the "Top Cat" for Team Rocket. This mission felt nostalgic, he would be lying if he said he didn't feel a little excitement from doing it.

    "This feeling…" He said to himself, it felt warm like an ember that was once burnt out but was now regrowing inside him.

    "This feeling…" It felt so familiar, was this what it felt like when he was "Top Cat" roaming the city? Meowth wasn't sure if he liked this feeling as he looked at the mask that caused his memories to resurface.

    Meowth smiled at himself, he was overthinking everything again. The mask was kind of cool looking. The world must look different with it on and he was curious to see this new world. He playfully placed the mask over his face as he saw the caves through the little slits for the eyes.

    **Click-clack, click-clack**

    His smile faded as he heard footsteps heading towards him. Meowth stiffened, his dream was coming true! He forgot about the man covered in black. Meowth gulped as his fear took control of his body. Slowly, Meowth removed the mask from his face to see who it was. The footsteps stopped as he turned around to come face to face with the twerp whose facial expression was unreadable. Meowth was surprisingly relieved that it was the twerp and not some man covered in black. He turned back around as he felt his eyes gloss over as he was overwhelmed with relief that he almost lost his balance. He placed the mask over his face once again so that the tears that threatened to come down were easier to push back as he blinked them away. The sound of footsteps echoed again as the twerp closed their distance, he placed a gentle hand on its shoulder as he reached over to grab the mask.

    "Don't" He said shakily in a melancholy voice that was tainted with anger as he pushed the mask away from its face. Unfortunately, he was unaware that he touched its injured shoulder. Meowth winced slightly before batting his hand away while not scratching him this time. They stared at each other for what seemed like forever, Meowth was staring blankly as it was still just counting its blessings that it wasn't some shadow or man covered in black.

    Ash's hand and arm were bandaged up, Meowth really got him good that time. He placed a hand over his wounded arm as he stared at it, he was furious, upset and above all filled with uncertainties. He had ideas on what he wanted to do once he caught up with it but once he did his mind went blank. Dr. Pan and the others were still behind for they too saw the drawings on the walls and of course, Dr. Pan wanted to study them. He was taking to long for Ash to patiently wait. Talonflame found Meowth and showed them the way, but Dr. Pan's constant stopping to see the drawings and all the other archeological discoveries that were on this path was making Ash agitated. He wanted to find Meowth as quickly as possible. It was weird it felt like he was searching for Pikachu even though they are far from that kind of friendship.

    "Pika Pi, Pikachu, Pika, Pikachu, Chu, Chu!" Pikachu broke their silence as it jumped off of Ash's shoulder. Meowth's blank expression quickly turned into a dark one as its anger from before resurfaced in full bloom. Whatever Pikachu was saying was not making things any better.

    "Stop it!" Ash ordered as he prevented Meowth from retaliating with whatever it wanted to say.

    "Just stop." He repeated himself as he collapsed to his knees in front of it. He pulled Pikachu close to him, wrapping his arms around it as he set it in his lap and started to pet it gently on the head.

    "Pika Pi." Ash continued to pet Pikachu as he stared at it blankly. He was thinking of what to say as Pikachu sadly stared up at Ash.

    "Talo!" Talonflame said as it landed behind Meowth, blocking him from escaping. It wasn't like Meowth was going anywhere, he still had to figure out which cave to go through. Meowth crossed his arms in front of his chest and turned his body to the side to stare at the mountains that were so far away. If he couldn't leave he might as well look at something nicer than the twerp or his Pokémon.

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    It was nothing but silence between them until Dr. Pan and the others caught up to them.

    "There you are!" Dr. Pan exclaimed who obviously couldn't read the situation.

    "Oh my there are three caves, I can't believe my eyes, this has been the most fulfilling expedition I have ever been on. We found great discoveries on the way here, the Statue of Rina must be inside." There was no response, but that didn't stop Dr. Pan's excitement. He then noticed the other drawings and the north stars on top of the caves and started to take pictures and notes.

    "Meowth," Serena was the first to walk up to them as she spoke softly. Meowth refused to make eye contact.

    "Tch!" It huffed under its breath, brushing her concern to the side.

    "We just want to be your friend," Bonnie added softly.

    "Was that before or after Alemaca Valley?" It spoke steadily but its anger was clearly still lingering within its voice. It then looked straight at them with its strictly vivid blue eyes.

    "It was after Saul that you believed me, wasn't it?" It spoke in a venomously low voice.

    "You all think that you're the best thing for me, that I should be grateful that you're willing to help me. According to you, I should be grateful for being interrogated all the time and to be stuck on your most wanted list until you deem otherwise because the truth just doesn't fit your persona of me. Your way is the right way. It's the only way and if others don't comply with your way then they are evil. You all refuse to open your eyes to look beyond what's in front of you!" It stopped for a second to take a deep breath.

    "When I find Team Rocket, I'm going to make you wish you hadn't missed that train." It said in a serious tone, it didn't sound like its usual slander of just trying to get a reaction, it was for real this time. Meowth had enough, it didn't want to talk or listen to them anymore. It had to find Jessie and James and it needed to figure out which cave it needed to take in order to deliver the mask. It walked away so it could look at some of the inscriptions and drawings so it could figure out the next step.

    "When we get to that town, we'll go our separate ways," Ash spoke up in a dark tone. He squeezed Pikachu in his arms protectively at Meowth's latest threat. He had enough as well, as much as Meowth sparked his interest, as much as he wanted to train and to capture it, the possibility of there being a positive future for them was growing dimmer as his feelings of resentment that he thought he was rid of, revealed that they were only being suppressed as they resurfaced quickly. It was as if they never truly went away. He was still angry about everything that has happened in the past and Meowth not once tried to make it up to him or apologized. While there still was a slight glimmer of hope that it could all be different, his feelings of resentment were slowly regaining full control.

    Meowth observed the last picture but was distracted by another one. This one had the mountains continuing but the north star stayed put, making it off-centered to the left as the mountains kept going right. It followed the drawing of the mountains and it lead it to another one with three rivers going into the three mountain peaks, and the north star was inside the moon centered above the mountains. This time the north star's four major points made it look like a clock rather than a compass rose. Underneath was an inscription written in the waves of the water.

    "Oooo, another drawing and look an inscription is written here in the waves." Dr. Pan exclaimed the obvious from behind Meowth, who in turn just ignored him as the annoying human that he was. Dr. Pan started to read it but couldn't help but notice that Meowth was too.

    "Can you read?" He pondered.

    "Yes it can, it can write too," Clemont answered, trying to sound chirper about it but sadly failed. Meowth may be becoming a lost cause at this point, but that didn't mean they shouldn't acknowledge the amazing talents that the little scratch cat had.

    "That's incredible!" Dr. Pan exclaimed.

    "But I meant this inscription, it's not in the common tongue." Meowth walked away not willing to answer any questions, he felt certain enough which cave he had to go through and proceeded to take the middle one.

    "Oh, please wait I haven't gotten all of my notes yet." Dr. Pan pleaded, "If you don't mind I would like to look through all of them."

    "There's nothing in the others," Meowth spoke softly snapping everyone out of his or her daze.

    "How do you know that?" Clemont asked.

    "It's what Golett, Shuckle and even Anthony said, 'What is today will become yesterday tomorrow.'" It answered.

    "It's all about time, the left cave represents the past, the middle is the present and the right is the future. The north star never moves, it's always in the present it is always living in the moment. In the one picture it did move but that's only because it was the past and living in the past gets you nowhere so it moved itself to be in the present. It stopped moving because the future is what one makes of it, the future is unwritten. That's the secret of time: Live in the moment, the future is what you make of it." It was as if its fur somehow became lighter as the sunlight shined against its white fur. It was as if the sunlight had the power to clear all of Meowth's anxieties and anger away.

    "I think I'm beginning to understand!"

    Ash was still too angry that it almost fell onto deaf ears, he stared at the Pokémon that invoked such negative feelings who in turn had its back facing them as it stared into the dark cave. Its energy was different all of a sudden, he couldn't see it but it felt like that mysterious look in its eyes was present. He was so angry with it and yet he couldn't help but feel its energy screaming at him that it was still fighting. That it was still going despite everything. He couldn't deny it, he was impressed by Meowth's determination.

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    The cave was very dark for the humans to see, the twerp did the annoying human habit of thinking anything with fur will follow a human's demand. Meowth ignored the request for using flash and kept walking at a faster pace. Its cat-like eyes were stronger than human eyes in the dark. In fact, humans have weak senses all around and yet they are in charge of everything. Meowth growled inwardly at the injustice as he unconsciously walked faster. Dr. Idiot happily supplied everyone with flashlights as Meowth listened to the thrashing flow of the river. It felt like the river was next to them, he wasn't sure how that was possible but he did hear it all the way here and the sound did get louder so it must be somewhere. It was confusing to the rest of the group as they shouted for him to slow down or to stop so they could figure the labyrinth out together but Meowth continued to give them the silent treatment. Throughout the cave, there were spikes of crystals that were scattered everywhere from the walls to the ceilings and to the floors of the cave. It was an elaborate maze, there were twists and turns but Meowth knew he had to listen to the flow of the water, wherever it was the loudest he knew that was the way. Along the way the closed space that the cave provided soon grew wider the further they went. As they kept going they entered a hall that was surrounded by multiple tunnels to choose from.

    "We're lost aren't we?" Clemont asked nervously.

    "I can't believe it!" Dr. Pan exclaimed taking in all the sites. In the center of this great big hall was a limestone flooring that was elevated from the ground by a few stairs. In the very center of the limestone flooring seemed to be a large pedestal of some sort.

    "Look at all these markings," he pointed to some drawings that were on the walls surrounding the latest discovery.

    "Statue of Rina was here." He stated happily.

    "But where could she be now? You said she would be in a cave." Clemont stated. As they continued rambling on their theories Meowth walked up to the pedestal and jumped up to get a good view of what little there was around them.

    "I wonder why they had her placed here." Dr. Pan questioned.

    "Probably because of the sun," Meowth unintentionally answered as it was looking up at a skylight. They all looked up as they turned towards its direction, witnessing the sunlight shine brightly onto Meowth's koban. It stood proudly on the pedestal while looking up and stretching its front paws behind it carefully so it wouldn't strain its sore shoulder. The sunlight felt so warm against its soft fur as a spark of light suddenly caught its eye.

    "Oh, you shouldn't be playing around with that." Dr. Pan said frantically.

    "This is an archeological discovery, everything here should be treated delicately and with the utmost respect." He reprimanded calmly but Meowth ignored him as it inspected the tunnels that surrounded them. It was small so being at a higher height made things much easier. The sounds of water were hard to figure out here since the acoustics were all over the place in a much wider space. Stumped with what to do next Meowth saw in the corner of its eye another flicker of light. It turned to see that out of all the tunnels only one seemed to be filled with a hue of light. Meowth hopped off and started to walk towards that tunnel.

    "Wait, at least tell us your process of elimination. Why that tunnel?" Ash couldn't hide the anger in his voice as he asked the scratch cat.

    "The sunlight is brighter down this way," Meowth answered eerily as it continued walking.

    "Sunlight?" They all thought for the tunnel Meowth was going towards was just like the rest of them…dark.

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    The twists and turns continued as Meowth listened to the flow of water. Everything was going great until they walked into a dead end. To Dr. Pan's delight, there was another drawing, it was of a town surrounded by the mountains with a waterfall in the center as the moon lit the night sky. Meowth wished to touch it but stopped himself since he wasn't alone. The cave was dark but Meowth thought he saw a twinkle of light in the corner of his eye. He turned to see what it was and saw a rock that looked out of place. He inspected it closely but the rock looked normal until he touched it. It was fake and there was a little button on it. Meowth pressed it and a note flew out. It was a note just like all the other clues he found on the scavenger hunt. It was another riddle but at least it was a sign that he was on the right track.

    If you choose brains your smart, if you choose brawn your strong, but which is better? Who would lose?

    The riddle said, confusing everyone while Meowth pondered over it for a while. It looked at the drawing and as if a light bulb went off.

    "Oh." It said out loud by accident, it then started to look around to see if it could find what it's looking for.

    "What is it? Did you figure it out?" Dr. Pan asked excitedly.

    "We have to climb up."

    "How did you come up with that? The riddle said to choose between brains or brawn." Clemont said as the scratch cat started to pique his curiosity.

    "That's because it's talking about the story about the rivalry between Magikarp and Carvanha."

    "Story?"

    "Pika?" "De?" They all questioned.

    "Seriously, you don't know? For a bunch of Pokémon trainers you're really dense." It said dryly earning it a few glares.

    "Anyways, it means we need to climb up." It repeated itself.

    "Hold on, what's the story about?" Dr. Pan intriguingly asked.

    "It's about a Magikarp and a Carvanha." Meowth stated. They sighed at its uncooperative answer.

    "Could you tell us the story?" Bonnie asked with hope in her eyes.

    "I can." It answered dryly as it continued to look around.

    "As in right now?" She added. Meowth eyed her for second and then took a deep breath.

    "Fine," It mumbled aggressively. "Since we'll be parting ways very soon, you can consider this story as my way of saying: Good Riddance!" It said happily, with a slightly harsh tone that didn't go unnoticed.

    "The story goes like this," Meowth started calmly as they listened intently.

    "The two were very good friends until one day the sun himself came to greet them. The sun then asked for them to choose if they would want to become stronger or smarter than they already are. The Carvanha quickly answered it wished to be stronger but the Magickarp took a little longer to answer but eventually said it wished to be smarter. Carvanha was surprised by Magickarp's answer and laughed at its choice. The sun smiled towards each of them and said he would help them both achieve their dreams. The sun spent his days training Carvanha while teaching Magikarp all his wisdom. As Carvanha got stronger their friendship weakened for Carvanha would tell Magickarp that it has no interest in weak friends. Eventually, Carvanha evolved into a Sharkpedo which ended what little of their friendship they had left. However, Magikarp didn't lose hope. It remained wise and enjoyed its life to the fullest as the stars guided it to a waterfall one day. There it practiced swimming up the waterfall each day under the guidance of the sun and moon until it eventually evolved into a Gyarados. As time passed the two ran into each other and ended up fighting with Gyarados coming out on top. The story then ends with them becoming each other's rival once again. But the moral of the story shows that being smart is actually more effective in the long run. If you just depend on brute strength that's all you will ever be but if you are smart then the possibilities are endless…you can become limitless." Meowth spoke clearly as it told its tale.

    "We must climb up like the Magikarp swam up the waterfall." It said confidently, they were impressed by the story but they couldn't see how they could get anywhere since the way was blocked and there was no way up.

    "But there's no way up," Ash stated the obvious.

    "Seeing isn't just for the eyes," Meowth spoke eerily as if it weren't the one talking, they dismissed the odd sensation as they recalled Saul saying something similar.

    (Shine the light.) Meowth heard a voice say, Meowth looked around to see who it was but saw no one, its nose and ears started to twitch but picked up nothing.

    "Shine the light?" Meowth looked at the drawing in front of it, determined to get through this maze it flicked its koban playfully to activated its flash. Shining it on the drawing, which revealed the shape of the north star in the center of the town. Meowth took out the medallion and placed it onto the wall, causing a hidden door to slide open revealing stairs that would lead them up. Meowth turned off its flash and started to run up the stairs in a hurry as everyone followed.

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    In a matter of minutes, they were out on a ledge as a waterfall and a town were below them. Meowth continued moving along the pathway that would eventually lead them to the ground.

    "Wait!" Ash cried out.

    "How did you know that? How did you know that's what you had to do?" Meowth looked at him annoyingly.

    "Golett and Shuckle told me I would need the medallion they just didn't tell me how. They said that I could figure that part out myself." It lied, they didn't tell it that but saying that it was a strange voice in its head and a bunch of dreams would be an answer that no one in their right mind would believe. Heck, Meowth wouldn't believe it if someone told him that. It continued walking down but was stopped as Ash ran in front of it. He couldn't help but smile at it.

    "You can't deny it now, you do know flash. So that must mean you can learn other moves." Meowth glared at him.

    "You're so typical for a human!" It said coldly as it walked past him. Ash stopped it by running in front of it again.

    "What's that supposed to mean?"

    "Don't you have some gym battle to get to? We made it to the town, now go and do what you said you would do. We are parting ways here so good riddance!" It darted between the twerp's legs and started to run off, leaving behind a group filled with mixed feelings. Ash and his friends looked at each other and agreed silently, that maybe it would be best to leave.

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    Updated Note:

    In the first draft, I wrote a few points for each member of Ash's group thinking about how Meowth could fit as being their Pokémon. I took it out because I wasn't good at writing long explanations and the fact that it was kind of boring for me to read. If it's boring for the writer then that's not good. Also, it was explaining, not showing. Also, I didn't know the characters...I didn't watch them, only read about them.

    Basically I had written out that Clemont was thinking about having a partner for building his gadget stuff and Serena was thinking about shows, contests or whatever she does. I left Bonnie in because she has an immature/childish/somewhat innocent view on the matter and from what I read and the few clips I have seen of her...she comes of rambunctious...I don't know, I don't watch the show anymore I just read Pokeémon websites to get their character bio.

    For this edit, I was super close to bringing it all back because I did clean it up. However, it was still exposition and not showing...I'm still not very good with dialogue obviously and as I mentioned this part of the story is repetitive. All original dialogue that was cut out for the final draft would have been the same dialogue with maybe some different lines. So I tried my best to embellish the exposition, to get the feeling of frustration from both parties across.

    However, in the second story, some of the missing dialogue from this story has made it in as flashbacks.

    Author notes:

    Rockruff: Is a new Pokémon from the sun and moon games and was the other Pokémon that had the best sense of smell. Its story is very lassie like and I decided to use it as an example here this time because like I explained in the story itself, Meowth's sense of smell is not the greatest and has many weaknesses.

    The story about the magikarp and carnava is something I made up. When I was writing this mini story I wanted it to be about how one of the weakest Pokémon can become the strongest. Carnava just seemed like the best rival out of all the water types (that we know of) due to a few reasons. Clearly its sort of a rendition of the tortious and the hare preaching slow and steady wins the race or in this case battle. Meowth learned how to talk and I wanted to create a story that it could emotionally resonate with. I believe that its ability to talk has created a lot of hardships but it also opened many new doors, but at what cost? If in fact that learning how to talk did cause it problems and it couldn't learn anything, what kept it going? What made it so sure of itself? I've said this before but I believe that when Meowize said Meowth was a talking freak that this was sort of a hint that most Pokémon probably think that. I can't tell you which episodes I've seen it but I do remember times when Pokémon acted indifferent towards Meowth and they didn't even know who he was a affiliated with. So despite being outcasted and being incapable of learning moves (supposedly) its still upbeat and tries to make the best of what he's got. I think that in itself is a great character trait that I wish the animators took time to dive into.

    Okay so I'm sort of aware that there is a shipping involving Meowth and James, I don't remember the name, was it blue something? Whatever...anyways that's not where I'm going with this. If anything even when I was a kid I did think that Meowth seemed a bit closer to James in that they got along better. Not saying they don't all get along because lets face it the trio are super tight best friends and I would even say tighter than Ash and his friends. Since James always has a weird closeness with his Pokémon I figured that may have rubbed off onto Meowth a little.
    Chapter 20
    Author notes:

    A parter? What gives? I know, I know it wasn't my intention...this was originally going to be one very long chapter but I decided against it at the last minute and decided to split it up.

    Once again Ash maybe out of character especially during a dialogue scene with Serena. As I was rereading it and editing it he came off too spiteful in my opinion and in my fanfic world its fine but when it comes to the anime itself I don't recall him going this dark...I could be wrong...I do remember seeing clips about there being a dark Ash but I don't know any of the details but I figured if he was able to have a dark side like that then maybe I could bring it out a little more. So hopefully his out of characterness isn't too bad.

    I don't know if other writers for anime do this but when I write the dialogue I tend to imagine the lines spoken in Japanese. So whenever you see random lines like "yes, yes" I'm imagining "hai, hai." Same thing goes for the lines like "don't worry" "Sorry" "Thank you." I always think it in Japanese...I don't know why but whenever I hear it in that langue it sounds more heartfelt to me...idk...maybe I'm just weird that way.

    Helmos Inn: Based off of Aroania Mountain, which is sort of near Arcadia, Greece. Helmos is just another name for it.

    Vosche Town: is a combination of Vosges and Bruche. Vosges is a mountain range that borders France and Germany. Bruche is the name of a river in that area and is apart of the Rhine. While the journey to this town was a rocky one and this mountain range in real life is not, I chose this area as my inspiration because of the waterfalls and overall beauty of the river and mountains in this area. Its so rich and had a very mystical sense to me and that was what I was looking for when I was creating this town. I wanted it to be as mysterious as the journey searching for the unknown.


    Chapter 20: It's Amazing Meowth! Part I

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    Meowth ran down the trail as fast as he could and into town to find the place he was looking for before the twerps can catch up to him. He was told that the client was running an inn and it was the only one in town. Meowth found it quickly and the doors were wide open as he ran inside. Wind chimes rung to its presence as the man behind the counter looked up to greet his visitor.

    "Welcome to Helmos Inn." Meowth couldn't believe it, the man behind the counter was Milo. The young man with long black hair smiled warmly at Meowth as his vibrant violet eyes adorned his dark olive skin. Meowth didn't know what to say but quickly regained its composer as it brought out the mask.

    "Oh so you brought it over, thank you very much." He said kindly as he walked over to receive it.

    "I'm so glad you found your way here, I hope my riddles weren't too much for you. If you don't mind I will need the medallion back too." He said.

    "Unbelievable, then that means you're Clio's brother," Meowth said astoundingly.

    "That's right." He smiled happily.

    "Then I must ask, are you an agent for Team Solaris?"

    "Yes, I am but don't worry, I have no interest in forcing a Pokéteer to join our team. If you wish to join us then we want you to do it willingly. The loyalty of a Pokéteer is a precious thing that shouldn't be tainted. Anthony asked me for my help since Kalos is indeed a very dangerous place. But I guess I don't need to tell you that, I'm sure you already ran into some problems on your way here."

    "You can say that again. Do you know anything about those men?"

    "Hmm, well they've…" Milo stopped as he saw Meowth tense up with its ears twitching. Milo quickly put the mask and medallion away as Ash and the gang walked in.

    "Milo!" They all exclaimed.

    "Welcome to Helmos Inn. So you all decided to visit Vosche Town as well, that's just wonderful." He greeted them kindly. "How has the winner of the Pokéathlon been doing?"

    "I've been doing great!"

    "Tch." Meowth's remark to his response caused Ash to glare at it, but then he remembered it was because of Meowth that he won as his scowl started to relax.

    "I don't believe it!" Dr. Pan gasped. "Is that what I think it is?"

    He pointed to the small white statue of a woman in a long heavy dress with her head down and a veil that was draped over her hair. One hand was over her heart while the other was carrying a bundle of wheat. The statue was just sitting there on the counter of the front desk but it was no mistake in Dr. Pan's mind, a replica of what he has been searching for but in far better condition compared to the one he found.

    "That's a Statue of Rina, how did you come across that?"

    "Oh, you mean this? It's considered to bring protection to the home. Most of the people in town have one." Milo answered casually.

    "Really? Then do you happen to know where the real one is? I'm an archeologist searching for her and all my research has led me to Montes Jura. We were just on the most incredible journey and we came across what I believe was once her home. Do you or anyone here happen to know where she could be now?"

    "Hmm…I'm sorry but I don't have any recollection. There were artifacts like that in the mountains at one point but they were destroyed."

    "What?" Dr. Pan gasped, "Who would want to do that?"

    "Let's just say there are people who wish to impose their own beliefs onto others. Don't get discouraged, I can see the light in your heart and I'm sure you'll find what you're looking for one day."

    "Speaking of incredible journeys, do you have any rooms available?" Serena asked.

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    They received their room keys and were told dinner would be ready shortly. Milo told them that the inn was Pokémon friendly and that there was a play area for them. As they left to put their things away, Milo told Meowth that this inn also had a tearoom. Meowth quickly jumped at the chance of getting away as it scurried off to hide from the annoying twerps and their Pokémon. The tearoom was just like the one in Nomia Inn with a chabudai and zabuton in the middle of the tatami floor accompanied by a beautiful garden outside. Meowth closed the sliding shoji behind him so he can curl up on one of the comfy zabuton in peace. It was so tired but was also relieved that this will be the last day it travels with the twerps. The twerp even said it himself that he wanted to part ways. Meowth sighed happily to itself, it was like a weight was lifted off of its shoulders. It wasn't long till someone slid the shoji open and turned on the lights. Milo closed the door behind him before sitting himself on a zabuton that was across from Meowth.

    "It appears that your traveling companions won't be your companions for much longer." He said cheerfully.

    "Is Team Solaris like Team Oyama? Do you guys prefer not to be recognized by outsiders?"

    "Sort of, we don't get involved in the quarrels of other teams but that doesn't mean we don't have our own. While Team Oyama is more of an underground network we do interact with unsuspecting individuals. But unlike Team Rocket we are not interested in expanding ourselves. We are more interested in preserving what has already been established. If you don't mind I would like to wait once your traveling companions leave. It would be much easier to talk freely about our roles." He placed a hand to the side of his mouth to whisper playfully.

    "Between you and me I think it would be best that we keep Team Solaris a secret from Ash."

    "You have no idea how right you are. Ha, Ha!" They both laughed in the comfort of the tearoom. Meowth felt the gentle spirit within Milo, he felt relaxed and welcomed when he walked into the inn. Even if it was a little bit of a shock at first, Milo was truly kind. His gentle aura gave Meowth a sense of peace of mind, causing Meowth to feel bold enough to acknowledge that Milo can be its ally.

    "It's been a while since I laughed like this."

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    Meowth refused to be present for dinner. To deal with any of the twerps or their Pokémon was out of the question. It confined in Milo not to reveal that it was hiding out in the tearoom. Milo was kind enough to follow through; when no one was looking he gave his yellow-tailed Smeargle a plate of dumplings to bring to Meowth in the tearoom. Smeargle happens to be Milo's little helper when it comes to running the inn and was assigned to look after all the Pokémon's needs with Meowth being its number one priority under the direction of Milo. As the delicious smell wafted its way into Meowth's nose he sat up and saw the dumplings placed in front of him as Smeargle joined him for dinner. They were the same dumplings that Clio gave him. A smile crept onto his face as he thought about his adventure with her. Meowth didn't hesitate as it took a bite of one of the delicious dumplings.

    "Yummy!" It exclaimed but quickly covered its mouth forgetting it was trying to hide. Smeargle walked out of the room and came back with more food while still remaining discreet about it. It was a small culinary feast on one little plate and it all smelled amazing. Meowth's mouth started to water as the smells drifted into its nose as its tummy started to growl. Relief couldn't begin to describe the feeling as it heard that most beautiful sound.

    "I feel hungry." It whispered.

    "I'm hungry…I'm hungry!" It cheered happily as it felt a tear of joy escape.

    "I'm becoming normal again."

    "Smear?" (You okay?)

    "Don't worry, I'm not eating my feelings or anything, I'm just so happy." It said as it wiped away its tears frantically.

    "For the longest time, I didn't have a normal appetite. I didn't feel hungry at all and would go for days without eating something. I felt like there was something wrong with me. I felt so out of place but now I'm starting to feel for the first time in a long time that everything is going to be okay." It continued talking as it frantically wiped away its tears that kept coming down.

    "I'm sorry, I don't know what's coming over me, I'm not sad really I'm not. Sorry…I'm sorry." Meowth was so full in itself that it failed to hear the sniffles of someone. Bonnie and Dedenne watched through the tiny crack in the doorway as they listened to Meowth's tearful admittance of relief. They teared up themselves as they listened and were just about to walk in but heard their names being called preventing them from doing so.

    Smeargle heard their footsteps walk away as it got up to close the door fully while Meowth was still clearing itself up. They finished their meal while every so often Meowth couldn't hold back its emotions. Smeargle then motioned him to follow it out to the garden that was connected to the tearoom. As the night breezes blew against their furs Smeargle started to paint using its yellow-tipped tail against the stone paths that maneuvered their way around the plants. It made happy drawings of the sun and stars and brought out a bucket of red paint for Meowth to use so it can join in. They painted till their heart's content, laughing at their silliness. After they were finished Smeargle started to wash the mess they created and Meowth was more than happy to help. As if each stroke of paint was a piece of his stress, the water washed it all away to never be felt again. They walked back into the tearoom and Smeargle disappeared only to reappear with dessert. Meowth squealed as it saw the sweat treat before it. It was a lemon cheesecake; Meowth didn't hesitate as it dug into the sweet tartness of the scrumptious dessert.

    "Hmm-mmm! This is so good! I just love anything with lemons. Ooo, let's not forget chocolate, if this thing had chocolate." Meowth dreamed out loud causing Smeargle to leave the room only to return with a cup filled with hot fudge to pour over its cheesecake, Meowth bounced up and down as it clapped in delight.

    "Oh thank you, thank you, thank you!" Meowth was in sweet tooth heaven as the hot fudge mixed with the sweetness of the lemon danced with its taste buds.

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    "I'm telling you we mustn't leave Meowth behind!" Bonnie broke their silence while they all unpacked what they needed for the night in a calm fashion while Ash who was still visibly angry was getting out what he needed for the night roughly.

    "It needs us, it really does. It acts tough and says all those mean things but it's hurting inside. You should have heard it, it was so sad. We just can't leave it!" "De, De." She explained what she saw sorrowfully, begging them especially Ash to rethink things through.

    "I'm glad to hear its appetite is back but that doesn't excuse its threats and bad behavior. We've done nothing wrong and yet Meowth refused to be open with us or to at least try to be a decent traveling companion." "Pikachu!" Ash said heatedly, he was truly happy to hear its appetite was back and all but Meowth's attitude throughout this whole ordeal has worn out his patience. He tried everything to show Meowth that it can express itself freely but Meowth violently pushed him away.

    "It was a reasonable deal," Serena spoke up causing Ash to look straight at her.

    "Are you kidding me?" He said, "If we didn't interrupt it when we did during its confrontation with Mamoru do you honestly think it would have told us about it? It's hiding something, it refuses to talk to us about anything and yet it's so clearly obvious that it's worried. If I had let it go to be on its own, what good would that do? What if someone else came by when it was alone?"

    "Pancham could have gone with it or any other Pokeémon. Everyone handles their problems differently but you took things into your own hands and pushed it further away."

    "What do you mean by that?"

    "Seriously Ash? Meowth may not show it but we all know it's distraught by what is happening. We can all see that it is hiding something from us but you had to go and push it because you were too impatient to wait for it to open up on its own. Instead of it opening up it closed itself off completely and once it felt like there was no way out it snapped." She stated calmly as she eyed his wounded arm.

    "That wasn't my fault, that's what happens when you keep everything to yourself. If I hadn't pushed it we would have never made any progress. I was trying to get it to feel comfortable, to feel apart of the group. I told it that it didn't have to talk about its problems that it could have talked about anything. I tried to create small talk with it so that I could build from there but no matter what I did it refused."

    "Sometimes just being there for someone without saying anything is all a person or in this case a Pokémon needs." She spoke calmly, "I think Meowth doesn't want to talk to us because it probably thinks it has an idea on what we might say. All it was asking was to have a break that was its way of opening up. It may have asked for it rudely but it was asking nonetheless. Sometimes having a moment to yourself is all one really needs."

    "Well, now it can have all the time to itself it wants! I'm done trying to help it!"

    "Pikachu!" It chimed in happy to hear that their previous traveling arrangements were indeed coming to an end.

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    Ash was still angry as his heart was filled with resentment. However, after he talked to Serena and his friends he was in bed thinking about that scratch cat. He thought about why he was so angry at it, was it really just because of what it said? It shouted threats before and he was willing to let it slide due to knowing it was Meowth's way of trying to push him away but that time it sounded for real. He thought that he was able to forgive Meowth for all the trouble it caused in the past but as it turned out that was never really the case.

    "I CAN'T TAKE THIS ANYMORE…I HATE YOU! I HATE YOU ALL!" The image of Meowth trembling in angst as it screamed its banter before it disappeared on them was etched into his memory. It finally snapped. His feelings of resentment were still there but his feelings of wanting to help it were there too. He wants to protect it but he also…can't stand the sight of it.

    "If anyone should be hating anyone, it's me who should be hating you!" Deep within the darkest part of his heart, he couldn't help but feel that he was a bit glad to see Meowth feeling the same way he always felt when Team Rocket stole Pikachu.

    "You deserve it!" He gasped quietly at the dark thought that escaped his subconsciousness.

    "How could I?" He thought slightly disgusted with himself, how could he ever wish that onto anyone?

    "Seeing isn't just for the eyes." Meowth's voice echoed as he thought about that moment in the cave.

    "Didn't Saul say something like that?" He thought as the old man in his grey yukata clouded his mind.

    "If you do find Meowth, try to listen and it will do the same for you. With an open mind, you will find your answer." Saul told him. "Like you, it is also confused, it has questions of its own that it's desperate to find the answers to."

    "Everything happens for a reason, it's been something I could never understand." Meowth's voice soon followed.

    "I think I'm starting to understand." He then remembered their time in the cave; he remembered how content it was with itself as he started to feel his eyelids grow heavy. Maybe…just maybe…

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    It was the middle of the night and as tired as Meowth was it just couldn't fall asleep. It was sitting on the rooftop of the inn looking over the rustic Asian style town. Vosche Town is a quiet little town that is snuggled in the valley surrounded by mountains with its own little forest. The waterfall could be seen in the far off distance, it was long since it was falling from a very high location but somehow the maze led them above it and from there was a path that snaked its way down to the ground. The waterfall fell into a basin that was surrounded by dark lushes trees and bushes and the water from the basin started to flow away bordering the town on one side. It's so peaceful here as Meowth looked up at the stars and the disappearing moon thinking about everything. In a few hours, it was going to be twerp free, its heart jumped with excitement at the thought. It also sounded like Milo knew more about those men so it was going to learn more about them as well. Finally, it was going to get some answers, it was so happy as its mind raced with anticipation for tomorrow.

    A cold gust of wind started to blow hard against its fur, sending it chills. The wind felt odd, some of the lights that lit the sidewalks in town started to flicker as a thick fog started to blanket the town and an odd-looking woman appeared. She was young in a long plain off white dress with long white-blonde hair that seemed whiter than normal. She was looking at a house with a sad expression and then turned her attention up to Meowth who was watching her from the inn's rooftop. She looked at him sadly with big ghostly bluish-grey eyes as she placed a hand over her heart and reached out with her other hand. Meowth's body was shot with a strong vibration that was intoxicating as it watched. For whatever reason Meowth jumped down to run up to her, as he reached where he saw her, she was gone but in the distance amongst the fog, it saw her figure walking away and decided to follow her.

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    It was morning and Ash and the gang along with a reluctant Dr. Pan were ready to go. Dr. Pan was disheartened that they didn't want to stay and explore more but understood their reasons. He wanted to stay there a little longer but Milo insisted that he would be better off going with the gang. Milo told them there was a ferry that would take them to Anbero City and that Snowbelle City was only a day's walk away. Ash and Pikachu were hyped to hear some good news and were ready to put this mess behind them. Dr. Pan and Bonnie wanted to at least say goodbye to Meowth but it was nowhere to be found. They were saddened by this but Milo told them that it might be wandering around town and that maybe they'll run into it.

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    Milo had some errands to run and was kind enough to lead them to the pier. On the way they overheard some people claiming their Pokémon went missing the night before. Others claimed the same thing just happened to them while others said their child went missing.

    "Milo! Milo!" They heard someone cry out. They turned to see another familiar face and due to their past, they weren't too pleased to see the likes of him.

    "I came as soon I as I heard." A young man with dark spiky amber blonde hair came running up to them.

    "Hey! What are these brats doing here?" He demanded.

    "Brats!?" "Pika!" Ash exclaimed.

    "Calm down Diggory, they were just leaving," Milo spoke calmly.

    "Why are you letting them leave? They're probably in on it!"

    "We didn't do anything!" Ash shouted defensively earning themselves a crowd of people who gave them accusing looks.

    "I assure everyone that Ash and his friends have nothing to do with the recent disappearances," Milo spoke calmly as he informed the concerned citizens. "Ash here was the winner of the last Pokéathlon and was a humble guest just for one night at Helmos Inn."

    "Where is that Meowth?" Diggory asked as he looked around.

    "My Zangoose and I have been waiting for a rematch. I thought it was here too, what gives?" The sound of a challenge struck a chord in Ash's competitive nature, pushing aside any intertwining feelings to the back of his mind.

    "It was missing since this morning," Milo interjected as Ash was forced to swallow his eagerness of accepting the challenge.

    "Do you think Meowth disappeared too?" Bonnie asked worryingly. "I told you guys it needed us!"

    "Calm down, Bonnie I'm sure Meowth is here somewhere," Clemont said comfortingly, even though he was growing concerned himself. "Do you think we will have enough time to look for it?" He asked.

    "I assure you, kids, that Meowth is fine," Milo said reassuringly.

    "If you don't hurry you'll miss the ferry and it won't return till tomorrow." They all then turned to Ash for he was the driving force on leaving Meowth behind. Ash examined everyone's concern expressions as well as the growing agitated crowd. His narrowed eyes widen briefly as something in the distance caught his attention. He left his friends confused by the sudden change as he stormed off.

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    It was almost noon as Meowth was on its way back to the inn. Last night it followed the woman and she led it to the basin, which was where the waterfall thrashed into. The basin was surrounded by plant life and the ground was covered with soft grass. It was very calming, it felt very relaxed as it listened to the sounds of the waterfall and breathed in all the fresh air that only nature can provide. The valley that the town was nestled in had an unnecessary fog problem as it tried to find her but failed. It then tried to get some sleep but it failed at that too as its mind continued to race with excitement over tomorrow's awaited answers to all of his questions. As the morning sun approached over the surrounding mountain peaks, Meowth walked back to the inn so it could hide it out in the tearoom but something caught its eye. It thought it was imagining things but could have sworn that it saw white fur dashing into the bushes. Without hesitation, Meowth followed it and spent a good amount of time searching for who he thought it might be. Meowth came out empty-handed and decided that it was best to forget about it. He saw a crowd of people near the pier and as much as he was interested to see what was going on his need to want to learn more from Milo was stronger.

    "I hope I'm not missing out on anything over there." As it was heading for the inn, Meowth was suddenly ambushed by an angry twerp who came running towards it out of nowhere it seemed.

    "Where have you been?!" Ash demanded surprising Pikachu by his sudden change of impulse.

    "Pika Pi?" Taken back by the sudden outburst Meowth was then bull-rushed by Bonnie catching it off guard as she embraced it in a big hug.

    "You're okay! You're okay!" She exclaimed as she hugged it tightly.

    "Uh…why wouldn't I be?" Meowth questioned as it was dumbfounded by the sudden interactions.

    "We thought you were missing." Dr. Pan informed it.

    "Missing?"

    "Whoa! You're so soft!" Bonnie exclaimed as she and Dedenne started to feel up its fur, pulling at its ears as she scratched it and stroked its back.

    "You're as soft as wool from a Mareep."

    "Really?" Serena and Clemont asked. It finally registered as to what was happening as Meowth shoved her and Dedenne off of him with enough force to push her to the ground.

    "Quit Treating Me Like I'm Your Pet!" It shouted before proceeding to brush itself off. "Don't you twerps have somewhere to go!? What's taking you so long? Hurry it up and leave!"

    "There you are!" An arrogant voice spoke up.

    "I've been waiting to bat," Diggory stopped himself as he eyed Meowth.

    "Tch…forget it, Yo Milo I'll return later. I have a few more things to take care of." Milo nodded politely and waved his friend goodbye. The kids found it strange that a calm and collected person can be friends with a loud-mouth jerk. For that to be possible was beyond them.

    "That was odd." Meowth thought as it watched the young man strut away.

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    The commotion in town attracted unwanted attention while at the same time Ash and his friends were curious as to what was going on that was making everyone so worked up. Milo acknowledged their eagerness to stay and kindly suggested that they return to the inn. Meowth quickly escaped to hide in the tearoom. The garden outside seemed extra inviting today so Meowth went outside and sat at the edge of the patio. It was so peaceful as it smelled the flowers and listened to babbling fountain. There was something about this place that felt familiar.

    "That woman…" Meowth thought as it remembered her preforming the pledge.

    "There you are." Bonnie appeared with Dedenne as they both sat next to it. Dedenne was still a little bitter about being pushed away but Bonnie was more forgiving.

    "What are you doing? I thought you twerps were going to leave."

    "We were but after hearing about the disappearances we decided to stay and help."

    "Of course you are, you twerps are so desperate to be heroes…it's sickening! But you guys will leave after you're done, right? We really are going to be going our separate ways this time right?" Meowth almost sounded plea full, it was somewhat hurtful the way it asked.

    "Would it be bad if we didn't?" She treaded carefully.

    "Yes, it would." Meowth clarified.

    "What if we stopped asking you all sorts of questions? What if we just didn't talk to each other at all and only enjoyed each other's company, would that be better?" Meowth side glanced her for she was trying very hard to create a compromise on behalf of the group.

    "I'll be honest with you mini twerp, traveling with you and your friends has been a never-ending nightmare. I don't blame you twerps for being skeptical all the time, but being surrounded by people and Pokémon that look down on you all the time gets…it gets…it gets lonely." It mumbled its last statement softly.

    "I told you that I want to stay with Team Rocket. I don't care if you don't understand. It's what I want and I will do whatever it takes to be with them. At the end of the day, you are only wasting your time if you think we will have a happy ending." Meowth returned to ignoring her existence as it stared off into space. Bonnie wished to respond but as a little girl wasn't sure what to say since her friends have their own opinions on the matter. She observed it from the side as it was still annoyed that she was still there but slowly its features soften as its gaze glossed overlooking aimlessly at the stone path. Bonnie was smart for her age to realize it was spacing out; she took the opportunity to poke its cheek. Meowth flinched at the sudden touch as its eyes widened while its posture tensed up. It quickly looked at Bonnie who was a little to close for comfort. She smiled widely as she succeeded in getting its attention.

    "He, He. It's like I found your start button." She giggled as she got up ready to return to her friends.

    "I'm sorry that we made you feel lonely but I still believe that it would be better for you to travel with us. You don't have to talk to us and you don't have to do anything with us. You can take care of yourself; I just think even though we crashed into some really rough patches before, at least you won't be truly alone. We will just be there for you when you really do need us if the time ever calls for it." With that said she happily left it alone to be with her friends. Meowth was impressed by her caring thoughts. She was the youngest and yet she carried a very warm light in her heart that Meowth couldn't deny. What she said was touching and Meowth sort of wished it was said earlier.

    "If only it were like that in the beginning."

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    It wasn't long till Meowth heard Milo closing the sliding door behind him as he joined Meowth outside.

    "I apologize, I have come to inform you that your traveling companions won't be leaving anytime soon." He chuckled slightly as Meowth smiled.

    "Is that idiot your partner?"

    "Ha, Ha, you must mean Diggory, he works for Team Solaris but we're not exactly partners, Team Solaris works a little bit differently. We don't pair up permanently we switch it up on a regular basis. If anything we're more like rivals." He walked over to get a closer look at one of the plants in the garden before he continued talking.

    "We've been having some problems here as you may have heard. Pokémon and some children have gone missing in the night with no traces of where they could have gone. While I do appreciate the help from Ash and his friends they won't be very useful. You see this town belongs to Team Solaris, most of the people here are agents or are closely affiliated with higher officials."

    "WHAT?" Meowth exclaimed frantically, "Oh No! In town today…no wonder people looked at us weirdly!"

    "Oh, I'm sorry I didn't mean to frighten you. You see there's this group of people who have been causing us trouble, especially Team Oyama. I believe that they're behind it but the problem is we don't really know much about them. All we know is that they've made attempts to infiltrate other teams and tried to steal whatever Intel on the organizations they could get their hands on. Whatever their reasons are they have a strong hatred for all the teams."

    "Don't tell the twerp that, he'll join them in a heartbeat." They both laughed at the idea, it was odd but Meowth couldn't help but feel genuinely calm about it all. There was just something about the man with vibrant violet eyes and long black hair that made Meowth feel at peace.

    "I understand, it's more of an internal matter and the twerps tend to fall short when it comes to seeing the bigger picture. Do you think that they may be behind Jessie and James disappearance?"

    "I know they are." He stated confidently which kind of shocked Meowth out of his comfort zone and was about to ask the young man but the sound of the shoji in the tearoom opening stopped them from continuing their conversation.

    Ash with Pikachu on his shoulder walked outside into the garden to join them.

    "Hello Ash," Milo greeted kindly as he felt the air change. Luckily, a phone from the inside started to ring and required his attention. He released a sigh of relief before heading back inside.

    "Sorry, but I must go. One must always be diligent when running an inn." He chuckled at himself as he winked at Meowth before disappearing from the scene.

    Meowth couldn't help but feel slightly betrayed as it watched him run away. It felt the urge to run as well as it made an attempt to follow but was blocked as the twerp step in its way. Meowth refused to look up and turned away as it sat back down at the edge of the patio.

    Ash moved forward to follow suit but as he observed the scratch cat's cold shoulder he changed his mind. Instead, he remained standing by its side. He quietly observed it staring blankly at the garden and started to feel a burning sensation as his dark feelings fought their way through to the surface. He took a deep breath and exhaled to push the feeling away.

    It was quiet between them for a while as Ash felt his patience being tested as he shuffled his feet in place. He started to switch between standing on his toes to his heels. He crossed his arms across his chest as a few fingers twitched against his upper arm. After more time passed he started to crouch down and found himself sitting down as Pikachu moved from his shoulder to his lap.

    "Everything happens for a reason." Meowth straightened its posture as Ash broke his silence softly while he started to rub the fur behind Pikachu's ear.

    "I never really believed in coincidences. Whatever happens, is supposed to happen. That's what I believe." He said as he continued to pet Pikachu as a smile grew wider towards his best friend. He then paused for a moment, his hand stopped moving against yellow fur as his smile faltered. He tilted his glance to the quiet scratch cat who remained fixated on the garden.

    "What," Ash began softly, "What do you believe?" He asked. He waited for a reply but Meowth remained silent.

    "We are going to have dinner soon. Will you join us?" He asked as he continued to maintain a calm tone.

    "Pokémon and some kids are disappearing in the night. We are all going to help and find them tonight. Would you like to help too?" He waited a little longer for a reply but Meowth remained silent.

    "If tonight is a success," Meowth broke its silence "will you leave?"

    "If we find the culprits behind the disappearances tonight than yes we will."

    "Good."

    Ash sighed to calm his rising anger, "I think we should talk."

    "We're talking now!" Meowth snapped.

    "You will leave. It's what you want too, correct? No more traveling together. You finally understand that it was a mistake."

    "No it wasn't!" Ash snapped.

    "Pika Pi?" It looked at him surprisingly.

    "Traveling together wasn't wrong, it was supposed to happen. It was a good thing that we found you."

    "A good thing you found me? Tch…what a joke! If you weren't in Strasboro City at the time and I found Jessie and James before we ran into each other everything would have been exactly the way they were so quit acting like you actually care about my wellbeing!"

    "It's good because we were given the opportunity to change all that for the better."

    "I DON'T WANT IT TO CHANGE, TWERP!" It shouted.

    Ash absorbed its statement as well as the anger and hatred that danced in its eyes. Pikachu scurried up to his shoulder as he slowly stood up.

    "In the beginning maybe I was helping you out of pity." He stated softly.

    "I figured that they would show up like always with some elaborate scheme…but they never did. Like everyone else, I started to think that if we could somehow convince you to quit Team Rocket for good everything would turn out for the better but you refused to try anything." His calm voice started to tremble as his anger started to take over.

    "You refused to even acknowledge all the wrongdoings you did, you refused to even apologize." He gritted his teeth as his rage slowly took over any rational thinking he had left.

    "After everything you've done to me and Pikachu, I'm Glad that this happened to you!" He gasped slightly to himself; he couldn't believe he said that out loud.

    Meowth stared at him unfazed by his statement as a small smirk appeared.

    "It's about time you admitted how you truly felt about me."
    Chapter 21
    Chapter 21: It's Amazing Meowth! Part II

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    Since Meowth's hiding spot was discovered, Dr. Pan came in asking if he could study the trinkets Meowth has been carrying. Meowth told him that it no longer had them. Dr. Pan tried to press it for more details but Meowth quickly dismissed him causing Dr. Pan to leave in a dampened state. It was relaxing in the tearoom once again until it heard a stampede running through the halls. Not wanting to stick around Meowth ran outside to hide on the rooftop since the tearoom was clearly no longer safe.

    Ash almost forgot about that little detail as he slammed the doors open. His anger was in full bloom blinding him to what was in front of him as he stomped into the room.

    "I've had it with you! Let Dr. Pan see them! They don't even belong to you!" "Pika!" He shouted not realizing that the room was empty. The other voices were muffled but Meowth could hear Dr. Idiot pleading with the twerp to not make a fuss.

    The half-moon was shining brightly as Meowth enjoyed the night breezes. Suddenly, the wind started to feel oddly cold as some of the lights that lit the sidewalks started to flicker. The grey fog grew thick as the young woman from last night reappeared. She looked at him sadly with big ghostly bluish-grey eyes as she placed a hand over her heart and reached out with her other hand, before turning her attention away. Meowth's body was shot with a strong vibration that was intoxicating as it watched.

    "Who are you?" She turned her full attention back onto him at the question and motioned for him to come down. Feeling a strong energy as if it were pulling him, Meowth did just that, this time as he reached her she was still there.

    "Who are you?" Meowth tried to ask but its voice failed as if the sensation blocked its ability to talk normally.

    (I'm worried.) She said as Meowth looked up at her filled with concern over its inability to speak fluidly.

    (My name is Rinora, I'm so worried about the Pokémon and children.) She walked away into the fog and without hesitation, Meowth followed her.

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    It was morning as Ash and the gang woke up and had breakfast. They were out most of the night but came back with nothing. Milo expressed his gratitude and reassured them that all will be fine and that they can leave by taking the ferry today.

    "Diggory will be back soon to help me take care of the matter." He said. "You are under no obligation to help us. I'm sure that your travels through the mountains were a tiresome feat. It must have been a struggle spending all those days when you could have been completing your journey for the league." The gang couldn't help but feel like Milo was trying to push them out the door as nicely as possible.

    "But we don't mind staying here to help," Clemont spoke up as they all nodded. "Do you think Meowth may have went missing? I haven't seen it around since yesterday."

    The last time anyone has seen it was Dr. Pan asking for the medallion and mask. After he returned to the group all depressed Ash stomped his way into the tearoom ready to give it a friendly reminder of what happens to thieves. But unfortunately Meowth wasn't there and everyone begged him not pursue it any further, for they didn't think it stole those items. Meowth did say it got the medallion during its scavenger hunt and the mask was just being returned. To the best of their knowledge, it may have already returned those items…hopefully. They couldn't find it anywhere in the inn nor did they see it anywhere in town. To have Pokémon and children go missing in the night without a trace was a frightening case. Luckily, none of their own Pokémon went missing. Even though Meowth may not belong to any of them, to know that it was safe would making leaving this town easier.

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    As they walked through town with Milo as their guide, they couldn't help but feel onlookers glaring at them. Once they reached the docks to where the ferry would be, they saw Meowth sitting at the far end of the pier gazing at the water's horizon.

    ***Stomp, Stomp***

    Meowth heard two thundering stomps behind him and slowly turned to see a very disapproving twerp.

    "You better have a good explanation for yesterday!" "Pikachu!" Meowth didn't respond as it looked up at the twerp with its hallow expression, it then turned its attention back onto the water's surface that was blanketed by the fog. It was impossible to see through the clouds of fog but Meowth was able to hear the sounds of the waterfall in the distance. A crowd started to form as Milo acted quickly as he placed a friendly hand on Ash's free shoulder.

    "Please Ash, don't make a scene here. The ferry will be here any minute. Instead of arguing maybe it would be best if you left on nicer terms."

    "I will not leave until everyone who is missing is found." Ash declared.

    "We don't want your help, Xenos!" Someone in the crowd shouted.

    "Leave our town!" Another barked.

    "Xenos?" Ash questioned as he and his friends listened to the crowd chanting for them to leave. The crowd was filled with animosity as they glared and shouted their insensitive slurs. Ash was so confused as to why this was happening. He then turned his attention back onto the scratch cat itself who was still in a daze looking at what appeared to be the waterfall. It was gone again. To briefly see the emptiness in its eyes clouded Ash's mind with uncertainties. The idea of Team Rocket being behind it quickly crossed his mind but was dismissed just as quickly with the fact that kids were missing too. Meowth wouldn't be acting like this if that were true. It's always like this...distant, melancholy and never speaking a word about anything.

    "Here watch this," Bonnie said slyly as she approached it carefully and poked its cheek.

    "Meowth start!" It flinched at the sudden touch, it turned to her wide eyed then leaned away slightly.

    "Do you have any ideas?" She asked. Meowth looked at her with its blank stare then returned its attention to the water.

    "No fair, it worked last time and I had more time." She sadly whined as her friends watched. Normally it would have snapped, it was as if its mind was put on auto pilot mode even for social interactions. An utter of a simple one-worded answer would have been better, but now there's nothing. Did it just give up? Why? Why is it like this?

    "Everyone, please calm down," Milo spoke to the crowd of agitated townspeople. "I assure you we will get to the bottom of this crisis."

    "Those brats must be in on it! They must be looking for more than just our Pokémon!"

    "We are not behind it! We would never do anything like that!" Ash shouted back defensively. "Pika!"

    "Then what are you doing with the Rocketeer!?" Someone in the crowd questioned.

    "What?" The gang gasped. Before anyone had a chance to respond Meowth walked passed them and stood in between the twerps and the Team Solaris crowd.

    "Rinora told me that there will be an attack tomorrow night." It informed them monotonously.

    "Did you say Rinora?" Dr. Pan questioned.

    "Meowth how do you know this? Who's Rinora?" Serena inquired, puzzled by what the little feline was saying as the townspeople were letting its warning sink in. Meowth side glanced her with its melancholy blank expression but then quickly averted its eyes.

    "Please, you can tell us." She begged.

    "Meowth," Ash spoke softly.

    "My Fellow Comrades," Milo spoke up regaining everyone's attention.

    "Let us all return to our daily schedules. The sun will always shine its light onto us and Rinora has always protected our town, we have nothing but the utmost gratitude for our blessed skies. Please leave everything to me, our Pokémon and children will return home." He then turned to the gang who remained perplexed.

    "Look the ferry is almost here." He pointed out as Meowth turned to see the ferry making its way to the docks with its hallow expression. Without saying anything it started to walk back to Helmos Inn.

    "Stop!" Ash huffed in a shallow tone.

    "I'm so tired of all the secrets. Just tell me what's going on with you." His feelings of rage restarted its battle with his feelings of concern. He can't stand Meowth but he also can't help but feel worried, why was it acting like this? It's so far removed from this world that it's almost robotic. Meowth didn't stop as it kept going at a slow pace so Ash ran in front of it, blocking its way.

    "I told you to stop." His demand was hoarse as he kneeled in his place, not knowing where he stands in all of this. "I want some answers."

    He helped it so many times before, why must this time be any different? Where are Jessie and James? Who could have taken them? Why should it matter if it was just in his conscience to do so?

    "No!" He heard a scream deep within. It's a lie! He doesn't help anyone for pity's sake. Hypnotized or not, Meowth is alone. It's a lost Pokémon and it needs his help no matter how hard it tries to push him away. He looked into the emptiness of its eyes; Meowth was just standing there staring off into space with its aimless expression. The shadows within his own heart were fighting to take control as he stared into its ghostly blue eyes.

    "You deserve this!" The darkness echoed, Ash gasp at himself for thinking such a thing and he even said it out loud too. How could he? How could he let such dark desires win?

    "You should leave." Meowth's monotonous voice broke Ash out of his internal conflicts.

    "There's nothing for you to gain here. There's nothing for me to say for you already know. Jessie and James are missing and I'm trying to find them. That's all there is. You may have helped me in the past and I'm thankful for that, but this is different. Those were quick fixes but this..." It paused as its eyes sturred.

    "I need to be in Team Rocket but you're such a condescending twerp that you will never understand my wish for something that you hate. You're insufferable...this journey with you was insufferable. Leave this town twerp. You are obviously not wanted by anyone." It spoke monotonously. It didn't whine nor did it cry, it didn't even sound sad. It sounded done as if it were defeated while it stared at him emotionlessly with ghostly eyes. Meowth then slowly walked around him, leaving a bewildered group behind.

    "I'm Not Leaving!" Ash shouted breaking their overwhelming silence but Meowth didn't stop to acknowledge him, it just kept walking as its mind drifted even further away.

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    Upon returning to Helmos Inn Meowth walked into the tearoom and closed the shoji behind him. Ready to plop himself onto an inviting zabuton, he heard a commotion outside in the garden. He walked outside to see Smeargle enjoying its break by painting on a huge canvas that was against the wooden fence that bordered the garden. An Espurr was watching it paint and it seemed rather bored. It perked up once it saw Meowth come out to join them. Ecstatic by the new face it ran up to him.

    "Espurr! Espurr!" (It's you! It's you!)

    "Uh…yes?" Meowth was taken out of its daze by the sudden cheerfulness of Espurr.

    "Espurr! Espurr! Es, Es, Purr!" (Oh my! Oh my! You're a Rocketeer!) Espurr continued to ecstatically ramble.

    "Espurr, Espurr, Purr, Purr, Es, Es, Esp, Espurr, Es, Espurr, Purr, Purr." (I'm a Solateer and I work for Team Solaris. Are you here to help us with the disappearances? Please say yes, I've always wanted to work with a Pokéteer from another team. We are always working with those blockheads from Team Oyama, doing the same thing over and over again. I tell you if I see another rare stone or jewel I'm going to explode. I really want to help with the disappearances too, but they say its too dangerous for a Pokéteer but then I said 'Dangerous? Ha, I'll give you dangerous!' And then I blasted the room with a little psyshock! Ha, Ha!) She laughed it off sadistically; Meowth couldn't help but think there was something wrong with her. Espurr's demeanor quickly changed as it glared at what was approaching Meowth from behind.

    "Espurr, I see you found your way into our garden again," Milo said kindly. Espurr didn't respond as it continued to glare at all the humans with a pouty expression.

    "Does it belong to someone?" Clemont asked.

    "You can say that, ha, ha." He laughed softly.

    Milo quickly lifted his hand and caught a small pebble that was thrown towards his face. Everyone was in awe by his incredible reflexes but couldn't help but look in Meowth and Espurr's direction. Espurr pretended as if nothing happened while Meowth just watched the scene unfold filled with concern for its own safety due to the erratic psycho.

    "Don't look at me like that." He thought nervously.

    "It's so cute!" Bonnie exclaimed as she was about to hug it senselessly but Espurr made sure that didn't happen by scratching her.

    "OW!" Bonnie cried at the pain she received on her arm as Espurr stood proud of its actions. Clemont rushed to his sister's aid, reminding her about respecting a Pokémon's space while their friends asked if she was all right.

    "Pika!" "De, De!" They shouted ready to attack.

    "Es, Es Purr!" (Bring it on!) Espurr said motioning for them to come at her.

    "No, No please don't start a fight," Milo said trying to calm Espurr down as did Smeargle who was pulling Espurr away while Ash and the others calmed Pikachu and Dedenne down. After he dealt with Pikachu, Ash then bent down to face Meowth at its level.

    "Meowth," Ash sighed. "Please, I want to talk to you."

    Espurr forcibly pulled Meowth to her side as she stood behind Meowth.

    "Es, Es." It said as it shooed him away with her paw. Espurr proceeded to pull Meowth away from the humans but Milo stopped it from leaving.

    "I know what we need, let's go inside and have some tea." He suggested calmly.

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    They all gathered around the chabudai in the tearoom with Espurr sitting relatively close to Meowth on one side and on the other Smeargle at the request or rather demand of Espurr. A teapot filled with green tea was placed in the middle surrounded by an assortment of sweet treats and Meowth wanted them all but reminded itself to have a little self-control. Smeargle happily served Meowth and Espurr giving them some pieces of chocolate and…is that a lemon square? Meowth was in heaven as it happily picked up its fork beside its plate and began to eat the square as if it were a human. It was in total bliss, happily eating its tarty sweet treat completely unaware of the various soft glances of relief.

    As the teapot gradually became empty and the pastries disappeared, the energetic Espurr talked up a storm while Meowth simply listened and Smeargle sighed every so often. Espurr eyed the strange human that observed them quietly, seeing that he wanted to interrupt their good fun as he scooted closer to Smeargle. Espurr threw daggers at him for such a daring move as she quickly pulled the two Pokémon up to their feet with the intention of returning outside. Milo shook his head as he sighed to himself while watching the sassy Solateer drag the two out to the garden with a confused outsider slowly trying to follow.

    "Ash," He called out calmly to stop him from going any further as he placed a comforting hand onto his free shoulder.

    "I was once told that the healing energy within tea can resonate within the room itself. Why don't you let all your Pokémon enjoy this space?" He suggested as Ash's expression lit up at the idea.

    As Milo left the room to return to his other duties Ash quickly released all the Pokémon. The many Pokémon spread out on their own as the garden started to become livelier.

    "Its Nomia Inn all over again!" Meowth grimaced. "Is he seriously still trying to get us to like each other?"

    Meowth groaned inwardly as he saw all their carefree faces filling up the once peaceful garden. Espurr started to growl loudly as she too was growing annoyed by all the commotion.

    "Es, Es, Espurr, Purr, Purr." (What's with all these pets!?) She whined loudly. "Espurr, Espurr, Purr, Es, Espurr, Purr." (I can't smell any of the flowers with all of this human stench in the air.)

    The few surrounding Pokémon overheard as they narrowed their glares towards Meowth and the new Pokémon. Pancham walked up closer as it focused on Meowth's shoulder while Meowth nervously backed away. It heard Espurr emanate another growl as it looked up to see the twerp walk towards them.

    "Pancham, Pancham." It said as it pointed towards Meowth's shoulder.

    "Pika?" It tilted its head.

    "What's it saying?" Ash asked as he observed Meowth place a paw over its shoulder. Hawlucha landed on the wooden fence behind Meowth as it eyed the scratch cat carefully. It shook its feathers then stretched out its wings. Hawlucha then spotted Noivern relaxing on the roof of the inn and decided to join him. They briefly glanced at each other then down at the scratch cat. The two continued to watch him from a distance as they stood in the spot Meowth used as a hiding spot when the tearoom was ineffective.

    "Meowth," the twerp said as Meowth started to feel strong gusts of wind.

    "Can we talk?" He calmly asked as he took another step forward while Greninja stood behind him. The wind got stronger as Meowth glowered then turned away from him.

    "About what I said yesterday," Ash continued despite the cold shoulder he was receiving. "I want to say...Woah!" He felt a strong gust of wind interrupt him by pushing his hat off. He quickly caught it and held it against his head as the wind continued to blow roughly.

    "Espurrrrr." She continued to growl as the plants swayed with the wind. The debris and loose petals danced in the wind as Meowth covered its eyes. Smeargle sighed as it plucked a small purple flower and handed it to Espurr. Her eyes sparkled and gladly accepted it as she started to smell its sweet scent.

    As the strong winds died down, Meowth uncovered his eyes as he saw a few blades of grass fly past him. He gasped as he swallowed the air within his lungs as he watched them float. As Ash lifted his hat to its normal position he watched Meowth stare off into the distance. He doubled blinked as he thought he saw a fleeting light sparkle in its eyes. He watched colorful blue eyes slowly lose their liveliness as it stared up aimlessly towards a small tree next to him.

    Hawlucha continued to watch from afar while most of the Pokémon walked around the garden. The scratch cat was looking straight at him but wasn't seeing him for its vacant expression was clear to see. He felt a soft gust of wind blow by as he turned his attention to the Espurr that was now content with smelling a flower as the Smeargle next to her shook its head. He watched as Ash started to bend to the scratch cat's level but stopped himself. Slowly, Ash started to back away as he would sometimes tightly squeeze his fists. It watched his shoulders rise as his chest filled itself with air then returning to normal as he turned to walk back inside the inn with the lid of his hat preventing Hawlucha from seeing his expression.

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    The garden became a buffet of all sorts of entrees for dinner as Meowth growled bitterly when it found out that Milo has given his blessing to the twerps that they can move their party into the tearoom. Smeargle was kind enough to bring Meowth and Espurr those amazing dumplings and what made it even better was that the three of them were the only ones to have them.

    "Where did you get those? I didn't see any dumplings out there." The mini twerp said as she came back from the little buffet. Meowth continued ignoring the twerps as it happily enjoyed its delicious dumplings. Some of the Pokémon started to take notice too and were also wondering the same thing. The way Meowth and Espurr were enjoying their exclusive treat was making them want to try some too.

    "Pika, Pika Pikachu?"

    "De, De, Dedenne?"

    "Pan, Pan?"

    "Chespin!" It reached to grab one but Espurr slapped its paw away from her plate.

    "Es, Es, Espurr!" She said snidely.

    "Meowth, That's Riiight!" He chimed in.

    Ash watched from afar before going outside himself. Annoyed by the displayed behavior, he started to move forward but then felt a gentle hand place itself on his shoulder. He turned to Serena who smiles warmly at him as she began to whisper.

    "It's finally starting to have a normal appetite, we can always fix its bad manners tomorrow." Ash sighed, as he had to agree with her, who knows how long it has been since it had a full stomach. Meowth was actually smiling for once as it enjoyed itself. Ash released another deep breath as he felt a small smirk grow.

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    The twerp and his friends were joined by Dr. Idiot and Milo at the chabudai enjoying their dinner together. Espurr gave Smeargle a demanding look causing Smeargle to leave Meowth's side briefly then returned with pieces of that heavenly lemon cheesecake with chocolate shavings and raspberries sprinkled on top for the three of them to enjoy. As Smeargle placed Meowth's plate in front of him, the twerp quickly intervened and took his cake away.

    "Hey get your own!"

    "Where were you last night?" Ash demanded. His friends grew tense as the calming aura in the room started to shift.

    "I'll give it back but I want some answers first." It was definitely a risky move but if a bag of cookies can get it to pretend to belong to someone for a day then the promise of some cake should work too.

    "Es, Es." Espurr shyly pushed her plate in between them so they can share her piece and glared at Smeargle to do the same.

    "Es, Es." She said sheepishly.

    "Really?" They both nodded.

    "Thank you, it's been so long since I had someone on my side for once!" Meowth exclaimed with glee. It then glared at the twerp with a cunning smirk.

    "Looks like you lose, you Stupid Twerp!"

    Ash slammed his fist hard onto the table then pushed himself up to his feet as his anger fueled his urge to pounce. Everyone flinched to the shaking of the table and the sounds of chiming utensils as some remained focused on their plates not willing to look up.

    "I will go make us a pot of tea," Milo suggested. "I'm sure you all have room for dessert as well."

    "Yay!" "De!" Bonnie cheered.

    "How about it Ash?" Ash's scowl softened as he became aware of the rising tension in the room. His friends eyed him worryingly while Meowth was enjoying itself as it ate a raspberry.

    "I want answers!" He shouted as he stomped his foot.

    "Whose Rinora?" He demanded as Meowth's blissful state was shattered. The tarty flavor became bland in its mouth as its mind traveled back to last night.

    "ES, ES!" Espurr exclaimed astonishingly, which startled everyone especially Meowth.

    "ES, ES!" It said again, Meowth wasn't sure what to say but decided to nod sheepishly.

    "ESPURR!" It screeched its excitement as it bounced up and down on the zabuton. "Es, Es, Espurr, Espurr, Purr!"

    "Pi?" "De?" They asked confusingly as the other Pokémon listened and were confused by the commotion.

    "What's it saying?" Bonnie asked excitedly for Espurr's excitement was rather contagious.

    "Rinora is a maiden of the moon, she protects Vosche Town." Milo explained.

    "So I wasn't hearing things!" Dr. Pan exclaimed as thousands of hypothesizes flooded his mind of all the possibilities as his blood boiled with the excitement of all of what he could discover in this town.

    "I'm confused," Ash stated, as the rest of them were not following.

    "Rinora is the full name of the woman depicted on the Statue of Rina." Dr. Pan answered.

    "But then how could Meowth have seen her?" Serena asked the question that was on everyone's mind.

    "Well from what we discovered besides Meowth and Baltoy working closely together."

    "Huh?" The annoying man gained Meowth's full attention at the mentioning of Baltoy. "What discoveries?"

    Before he continued, Dr. Pan couldn't help but notice a pair of sapphire eyes that stirred with curiosity.

    "Those eyes…" He could have sworn that he saw something sparkle inside them but decided to move along with the topic at hand.

    "We found some legends that depicted Meowth being able to see things that can't normally be seen. According to some texts, it was considered good luck to have a happy Meowth guarding their shrines and temples."

    "See what can't normally be seen?" Clemont questioned as they all looked skeptically at the scratch cat Pokémon.

    "Legends?" Meowth mumbled to itself with its blank expression as if it were trying to comprehend it all as well. It started to slouch and its eyes turned from beautiful sapphires to tainted ghostly blues in a matter of seconds as it drifted off.

    Was it bad for them to talk about it? It left them so fast as it looked at the teapot in the middle of the table with its vacant expression. Suddenly footsteps were heard storming their way through the halls. The shoji slammed open and there stood Diggory with his wicked smirk.

    "Alright time for that rematch!" He shouted as his Zangoose came charging from behind and jumped onto the table's edge in front of Meowth with its claws pointing in its direction.

    "ZanGoose!" It hollered.

    "Your On!" Ash jumped with excitement at the sound of a challenge. "Pika!"

    "Let's show them what we've got Meowth!"

    "Huh?" Meowth snapped out of it only to come face to face with a Zangoose who was squatting like a sumo wrestler so it could glare at him directly.

    "Gah! Where did you come from?" Meowth exclaimed as Ash felt his excitement drain out of him.

    "You were gone even during all of that?"

    "Back off, I know it doesn't belong to you!" Diggory said rudely which aggravated Ash. Meowth was starting to grow nervous to where this all might lead to as he watched the obnoxious spiky haired man walk towards him. Diggory crouched down quickly in front of it and grabbed it by the chin so he could look into its eyes directly. Just like the Flare from before, he was way to close for comfort.

    "Essspurrrr." Espurr pouted due to the situation as it growled annoyingly. Diggory's arrogant smirk quickly faded as he pushed Meowth away.

    "Tch!" He got up and started to walk out, "Forget it! I don't want to battle with a weakling like you!"

    "How dare you say that!" Ash shouted, "Just give Meowth a chance...it will beat you!" He said defensively.

    "Tch, boy are you stupid. I want to battle a Pokémon when it's at its best and to top it all off its injured. I refuse to battle a Pokémon when it's not at its fullest!" He stated proudly.

    "Injured?" They all turned to Meowth who flinched under their gazes as if it was caught with its paw in the cookie jar.

    "Don't listen to him, he's an idiot! I'm not injured." It quickly tried to recant Diggory's statement.

    "Where is it?" Serena demanded which shocked Meowth slightly since she's been rather passive this whole time.

    "Show us right now!" Ash added as they surrounded it with disapproving glares.

    "I'm fine." It said defensively but then a sudden slap made contact with its shoulder. Being one of the few that paid close attention to the scratch cat's actions of always rubbing its shoulder and being extra careful to not strain it, Pancham smacked it hard on the shoulder for it was done playing along. To keep its secret out of respect had to end. Like the others, it was curious to see how far Meowth would go to hide it but enough was enough. However, while some still did not like seeing it around, they had to admit that Meowth's resilience was impressive.

    "OWW!" Meowth cried in pain as the soreness spiked.

    "Why I outta…" It then scratched Pancham in the face, which created a ruckus amongst the Pokémon as they were ready to aid their friend, but were quickly subdued by their trainers trying to calm them down. Meowth then felt a gentle hand land on its good shoulder, it turned to see Milo's genuine smile.

    "The cat's out of the bag now, Ha, Ha." He chuckled as he spoke calmly. He proceeded to touch its wounded shoulder.

    "It's tender but it's not broken or anything. Some heated bandages will do the trick, after that try stretching it out to loosen the muscle that is sore." His large hands were warm as Meowth felt his light heal its pain through his delicate hands. After he was done, Meowth's shoulder started to feel a million times better, Meowth was almost disappointed as he removed his comforting hands.

    "Tch…how disappointing and I was looking forward to it too." Diggory mumbled under his breath.

    "Yo Milo, I'll be staying for the night!" He declared as he walked out into the hallway.

    "Yes, yes," Milo said calmly.

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    "Wait!" Ash stopped him from going any further as he ran in front of him in the hallway, away from the tearoom.

    "What did you mean by all that? What else is wrong with it?" He asked troubled with what else he could have been missing. How did this jerk notice its injury and not any of them?

    "You seriously can't tell? Boy, you're dumb! Well…I guess it can't be helped since Meowth are notorious for hiding things. I only brought up its injury because I figured it would be best for it to get it checked out. We have spas and treatment facilities in town that are much better than some wannabe Nurse Joy."

    "So there really is something else? What is it? Please tell me, I keep asking it to talk to me but it refuses and shuts down like it's gone from the world. I know I have my own resentments that I need to work on but I just can't turn my back on it. I want to help please just tell me what I can do." Diggory was taken back to see such a reaction coming from a Xenos as the boy grabbed him by the sides of his muscular arms, lightly shaking him to tell him everything he knows about the Rocketeer. The Xenos lowered his head as his voice became shaken with grief. Diggory grabbed his hands to remove the Xenos off of him.

    "Open your eyes, kid. A true Pokémon master wouldn't take any backdoors. Try to figure it out yourself." He then pushed the Xenos to the side and proceeded to walk away.

    "A true Pokémon master?"

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    Author notes:

    Espurr: I don't normally talk about my own characters but for the love of Espurr I loved writing her so I hope you enjoyed the little eccentric furball as much as I did. BTW...I know Espurr can't learn any rock/ground type moves so the little pebble throwing wasn't a move it was just Espurr being a brat...I felt I should mention that just in case someone cries foul.

    Rinora: The name was inspired by three virgin martyrs named Menodora, Metrodora and Nymphodora.

    Cats and temples

    One popular breed is the Birman and was said to be the companion cat of priests. Another example is on your next google search if your interested in learning something...type in cats in temples and the first few things that pop up would be Japan's shrines to cats. And of course there is the ancient Egyptians and their goddess Bast.

    When it comes to cats seeing spirits...there isn't any texts or myths that I could find (or that I can remember off hand at the moment) but I will say this: I guess it could go without saying that I do believe there are spirits, etc. and that we could connect with them in someway. (This is a personal belief.) I would always catch my cat looking up at something or meowing at something that wasn't there and she wasn't looking up at the ceiling it was as if she was looking up at a human. One time I saw her looking up as the sunlight from my bedroom window shined on her. She was so focused on something that I passed by her twice before I walk up to her and said her name for her attention. She turned around to me and it almost felt like I caught her in the middle of something...about a week later she died from natural causes. So due to my experience and of course my personal beliefs I do believe that cats have a six sense. I probably sound like a crazy cat person right now to some but on a somewhat happier note she was my childhood pet and the funny thing is I got her when I was ten and obsessed with the Pokémon anime...its ironic how things work out.
    Chapter 22
    Author Notes:

    Panacea: is the Greek goddess of universal remedy. The original spelling was different and the word "Panacea" is how we say/spell it today and I preferred it over the original. The original spelling just didn't look right in my warped mind.

    Elena: Based on Epione the Greek goddess of soothing the pain and was the mother of Panacea.


    Chapter 22: It's Amazing Meowth! Part III​

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    Ash came storming back into the tearoom and grabbed Meowth by the scruff.

    "Hey, hey, what do you think you're doing?" It hollered.

    "Ash, what's gotten into you?" Serena asked, worried about how things were only going to escalate worse. Despite its weak struggle to get away, Ash tightened his grip on the scruff of its neck while ignoring her concerns. Pikachu and the other Pokémon watched in awe as the astonishing scene unfolded.

    "I'm guessing Diggory told you about our facilities." Milo sighed.

    "He's such a big mouth." He thought.

    "Well since that's where you're going, Espurr can lead you to it."

    "Es!" It shouted unhappily.

    "Its time for you to go home now little one." He said sweetly as he patted it on the head, to which Espurr growled and batted his hand away gently.

    "Ess-Purr!" It harrumphed as it folded its arms in front of its chest annoyingly.

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    "I can walk on my own! Just let me go!" It continued it's whining.

    "Why? So you can space out and be oblivious to what's going on around you? Forget it!"

    "I didn't mean to back there, it was just a lot to take in. I've heard many legends of all kinds but never about Baltoy and Meowth specifically working together. I was just curious, I was thinking that maybe I will end up running into Baltoy again one day. Please, just let me go, your starting hurt me." It whined even louder. Ash stopped and placed it down gently as he bent down to meet it at its level.

    "You know what? That has been the most you've ever said to me. I just want you to feel that you can talk to me freely about anything. I didn't want you to feel that you needed to keep everything inside. I didn't want you to feel alone or that you had to keep on fighting for yourself because you thought that no one else would. When that bridge collapsed…" He paused, as he thought about it.

    "That's when you got hurt." His hat covered his eyes as he looked down at the ground feeling his emotions were getting the better of him.

    "You could have waited, I would have helped you."

    "He's crying?" Meowth gasped as the scent of saltwater entered its sinuses.

    "I CAN'T TAKE THIS ANYMORE! I HATE YOU! I HATE YOU ALL!" The image of it trembling in angst, shouting its harsh rhetoric flooded Ash's mind.

    "I was wrong, I pushed you into a corner." A little cream-colored paw made its way into his peripherals as he was just about to lift his head up.

    "Stop it," Meowth mumbled softly as it pawed his nose.

    To see the twerp in this light was new, he's a human that's always headstrong and arrogant. From what Meowth can recall, the twerp has an unhealthy passion for Pokémon in general. However, regardless of whatever may have happened in the past, this time was filled with uncertainties. Ash was surprised by its interaction at first but quickly got over it as he watched it lose focus. Ash then gently poked its cheek.

    "Meowth start!" He softly repeated Bonnie's phrase.

    "Huh?" It flinched.

    "You were doing it again."

    "Oh." It sounded slightly ashamed of itself as it may be the first time for Meowth to realize how fast it goes away. Suddenly, its sorrowful eyes sparkled, blue eyes filled with determination stared at him directly. It was that mysterious look again, vivid blue eyes filled with purpose and various emotions. Was that a twinkle in its eyes? Ash wasn't sure if he was seeing things. It was quick like a flicker of light, maybe it was the reflection from the lights on the streets.

    "I'm not going to want to talk about it, probably not ever." Meowth started by confirming Ash's theory.

    "It's not that I believe you won't help me it's that I don't want things to change." Glowing violet eyes got into Ash's face. Startled by the sudden encounter it was easy for Espurr to push him down.

    "Hey!" He yelled.

    "Es, Es!" She harrumphed. She then got behind Meowth and started pushing him away from the annoying human.

    "Es, Es!" She said as she gestured to the human to go away.

    "Huh…hey…stop…wait." Now it was Espurr that Meowth was trying to struggle away from.

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    "Did you have fun, Espurr?" A soft woman's voice answered the ringing bell at the door. She looked up from her magazine to see it was Espurr walking in with a struggling Meowth and right behind them was a new face.

    "Oh," She said somewhat surprised to see him, "I don't think I've ever seen you around here before. Who are you?"

    "I'm Ash Ketchum and I come from Pallet Town." He greeted her.

    "I was told to come here for medical needs for Pokémon." He said as he nudged Meowth further into the store.

    "Oh, I see…it's the shoulder." She said as she eyed it without moving away from her post behind the counter.

    "You can tell just by looking?" The soft-spoken woman pushed her thin-framed glasses up the bridge of her nose and seemed ready to make a remark that may not be wise as Meowth eyed her cautiously.

    "I see...so you're just visiting." Taking Meowth's hint, which calmed its nerves greatly.

    "I'm sure you don't have just the one Pokémon if you like you can bring the others in for a general check-up as well."

    "You mean like what we would get at a Pokémon Center?"

    "Well, this is a Panacea." Ash looked at her confusingly, not entirely sure what she meant by that.

    "Panacea means 'all healing' twerp, it's like a Pokémon Center but they only use natural healing remedies," Meowth informed him.

    "Really? I'll be right back then! I have friends with Pokémon too, can you take care of them as well?" She nodded politely, without further to do Ash was off on a new mission of his own.

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    Meowth was taken into the back and was alone with the soft-spoken woman and Espurr. She pulled her light brown hair into a low ponytail as she rummaged through one of the cabinets.

    "So it looks like Espurr made its way to the inn again." She started with some small talk as Espurr acted like it was nothing.

    "Oh, I'm so sorry. I forgot to tell you that my name is Elena. I was taken off guard by that boy trainer. I heard there were a few outsiders here but I didn't believe the rumors. So I guess it's true that they're here to stay till our little problem is taken care of."

    "They like being heroes, their addicted to the praise they get."

    "Well, he seems like the typical Xenos to me. He doesn't see what's beyond his nose. He will only be in our way." She then proceeded to push Meowth onto its back as her violet eyes were focused on its tender shoulder. She placed her small delicate hands to apply pressure, rubbing a natural cream that heats up to soothe the pain. Meowth relaxed as it felt the warm light that was released from her hands exterminating the pain. It wasn't long till she was done and asked it to stretch it out. It was a miracle! Its shoulder felt like it was brand new.

    The wind chime that signaled guests have entered rung its calming sound causing Elena to leave Espurr and Meowth alone. They were able to hear that it was the twerp along with his friends who brought their Pokémon in for a check-up.

    "What to do? Is there a place to hide?" Meowth really wasn't in the mood to be dealing with the twerps' Pokémon again. As if Espurr read his mind, tapped him on the shoulder and motioned for him to follow her.

    The Panacea had a garden of its own with hot springs, yellow cabanas, and a fountain to complete the tranquil energy this healing center had to offer. Luckily, the thick steam from the hot springs was no longer bothering Meowth anymore since it was no longer operating on an empty stomach. A nice warm soak in some hot water sounded inviting but the likelihood of it being alone was slim since unwanted company were bound to show up any minute. It then turned its attention upwards at the night sky and saw that the roof was easily accessible just like it was at the inn. Meowth jumped up and proceeded to its new hiding place.

    "Es, Es, Es." Espurr tried her best to follow but had a really tough time. Meowth saw her struggling and came back to lift her up by the paw. Espurr blushed slightly but it quickly vanished as Meowth stopped holding her. The blush went unnoticed as Meowth knew Espurr didn't like the humans and the Pokémon belonging to them. It would be rough for the Solateer to face them on her own. They sat on the rooftop together looking at the night sky as the wind started to feel oddly cold while some of the lights that lit the sidewalks started to flicker. Amidst the thick fog, a womanly figure appeared. It was her…it was Rinora.

    "Es!, Es!" (It's her! Its her!)

    "Espurr, Es, Es?" (You see her too, right?) She bounced up and down as she energetically shook him.

    Meowth remained silent unsure if he should admit that he can see her. Is he supposed to or is he just crazy? She looked up at them sadly with big ghostly bluish-grey eyes as she placed a hand over her heart and reached out with her other hand. Meowth's body was shot with a strong vibration that was intoxicating as he watched.

    "Espurr, Purr, Espurr." (She's calling for us.) Espurr pulled Meowth with her as she dragged him to the melancholy woman.

    (I'm worried.) She said as they walked up to her.

    (Please come with me, we must hurry.)

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    She led them to the waterfall, the same place she led Meowth to last night. Must he endure this again?

    (I'm sorry, I know you don't have enough energy, but I really do need your help. Please go inside the cave, they're inside right now. We must stop them from carrying out their attack for tomorrow.) She said pointing to the waterfall.

    "Es, Espurr, Purr. Espurr, Espurr, Purr, Es, Espurr" (This is great! I've been waiting for something like this!) Espurr exclaimed.

    "Espurr, Purr, Espurr, Purr." (Let's split up, I'll go inside and you can go get Milo.)

    (I think it would be best if it were the other way around Espurr.) Rinora said kindly.

    (There are children inside, Meowth would be able to explain the dangers they are in.) Espurr pouted but sighed in agreement, within seconds it was gone leaving Meowth alone with the mysterious woman.

    (I will still be with you even when you can't see me.) She reassured him as Meowth turned to her to see that she was gone.

    (You must hurry.) He heard her say as he moved forward.

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    Meowth was all alone as it walked through the dark tunnels, it wasn't long till it entered into a great big hall that had multiple skylights lighting up the very large statue in front of it. It was of a woman wearing a long heavy dress with her head down. One hand was over the heart while the other was caring a bundle of wheat. A veil covered her hair and around her neck was a necklace of the moon and a shape of the sun on her forehead.

    (I was a priestess for the moon.) Rinora suddenly appeared again. Meowth looked up at her then back at the statue.

    (The sun shines its light onto everyone. However, it is the moon that shines the brightest. With their light combined, we can protect those we care for with the guidance of the stars and all of those who came before us. Go through that tunnel, please they need to be protected.) She disappeared as she pointed towards one of the few tunnels surrounding them.

    (Do not worry the moon will always protect you.) It heard but didn't see anyone as it took the tunnel that had a soft glow.

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    It was clear to the gang that Meowth and Espurr were no longer at the center. Elena suggested they may have gone back to the inn. She told them that Espurr likes to hang out there.

    "It gets bored here easily. I think it prefers a more adventurous life versus a life stuck in a small, remote town." She said.

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    They walked back with their happily healed Pokémon taking in how amazingly well the Pokémon received her peculiar treatments. They were all relaxed as if they were completely renewed. Dr. Pan, Milo and Diggory were missing when they got back. They figured since Dr. Pan was entranced by this town's connection to the Statue of Rina that maybe he was out with them and some other townspeople.

    "ESPURR! ESPURR!" They heard a scream coming from the front entrance. They ran out to see what the problem was as they saw Espurr frantically calling out for someone.

    "Espurr, what's wrong?" Bonnie asked troubled by its hysterical screams. It glared at her then ignored her.

    "ESPURR! ESPURR!" Pikachu jumped off of Ash's shoulder and ran up to it.

    "Pikachu, Pika, Pikachu, Pi, Pi, Pikachu." Espurr ignored Pikachu and kept on calling out for someone. Smeargle then appeared and Espurr quickly calmed down.

    "Espurr, Espurr, Espurr, Es, Es, Espurr, Purr, Purr, Espurr, Espurr." It explain itself.

    "Smear? Smeargle, Smeargle."

    "Pika? Pikachu." Espurr glared at Pikachu then pushed him out of the way.

    "Pika!" "Hey!" Ash and Pikachu shouted as Ash came closer to the three Pokémon. Smeargle quickly got in front of Espurr and pushed her back.

    "Smeargle, Smear." It gestured to Pikachu to calm down and motioned for Ash to back away.

    "Ess, Espurr, Purr, Purr, Espurr!" She shouted as Smeargle sighed to itself as it heard the wind outside pick up. It tapped her head gently as it shook its head.

    "Smeargle." It said to her. She growled as she pierced her lips. "Smear, Smeargle." It said as it blocked her view of the humans and Pikachu.

    "Es, Es, Purr, Purr, Espurr."

    "Smeargle, Smear, Smear."

    The humans listened to them converse as Pikachu slowly approached the two once more.

    "Pika? Pikachu, Pikachu, Pi, Pika Pi, Pikachu." Smeargle nodded as it held Espurr back.

    "Pika, Pikachu, Pi, Pi, Chu, Chu." It said to the glaring Espurr. She folded her arms as she puffed up her cheeks then averted her eyes. Pikachu ran back to the gang and started to make weird gestures.

    "Pika, Pikachu, Pi, Pi, Pikachu, Chu." It said as its gestures sort of came off as if it were trying to mimic Meowth.

    "Where is Meowth in times like this?" Bonnie whined.

    "Pika!" It shouted at her as if she guest it right.

    "I think that's what they're trying to tell us." Serena chimed in as the Pokémon nodded. Impatient to wait any longer Espurr ran out with the gang right behind it.

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    Espurr led them to the basin of the waterfall. Looking around the banks and the surrounding forest, they were unsure as to why Espurr brought them here since there was no sign of Meowth anywhere. Scanning his surroundings, Ash felt a light tug on his pants. He looks down and sees Espurr pointing towards the waterfall.

    "Espurr, Espurr." It said shyly. Pikachu jumps off of his shoulder to talk as Espurr glared at it while backing away slowly.

    "Pikachu, Chu, Chu." He spoke in a friendly tone.

    "Espurr." She mumbled.

    "Pika Pi." It said as they both ran towards the base of the waterfall.

    "Hey wait!" Ash shouted at them.

    Espurr showed them a path of boulders conveniently making their way to the waterfall. Espurr and Pikachu hopped across as the humans followed them. Espurr then jumped through the falling water as Pikachu did the same. Not sure what to expect, they all jumped through as well. As the cold water splashed violently against their skin and were now soaking wet, they took in their surroundings of a cave that was behind the waterfall. With torches lighting their way they continued to follow Espurr. It turned left then right, it seemed to know where it was going. It felt like sooner or later they will run into Meowth. Espurr picked up the pace and led them into a wide-open space with a large statue of a woman in the middle as the starlight from above gave her a celestial glow.

    "That's the Statue of Rina!" Clemont exclaimed.

    "But Milo said the artifacts in the mountains were destroyed," Serena stated out loud.

    ***Thud, Thud***

    The cave shook as it felt like something heavy banging against the wall. It felt like it was coming from above, they weren't sure as the ground continued to shake.

    (Espurr!) Rinora appeared.

    (They're coming your way. Hurry you must get everyone out before it's too late.) She insisted. She disappeared as the sound of a stampede echoed through the halls as a group of Pokémon with small children ran out into the opening.

    "Espurr!" It shouted, motioning for them to follow it quickly.

    "It's all the missing Pokémon and children!" Clemont exclaimed.

    "Where is Meowth?" Ash asked as he looked amongst them but couldn't find it. The children trembled as they all pointed in the direction that they came from. Ash ran for it with Pikachu running by his side.

    "Espurr! Espurr!" It shouted as it pulled Clemont by his pants urging him to follow it.

    "What's wrong Espurr?" Clemont asked.

    "Espurr! Espurr!" It shouted.

    "Groooo" The Pokémon caused an uproar as they urgently tried to push the gang and the children out.

    "De, De!" Dedenne joined Espurr's side as it too started to urge the humans to follow them. The children continued to hurdle together as the gang didn't understand why the Pokémon were all in a panic but soon found out for themselves as boulders started to fall.

    "The cave is collapsing!" Clemont shouted.

    "But Ash is still inside!" Serena cried.

    "Ash will find a way! Come on we must hurry!" Clemont said confidently as he pulled them away as they all ran out to safety along with the children and Pokémon.

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    With Rinora's guidance through the intricate maze, Meowth was able to find the Pokémon and children. They were all laying on the ground past out. It woke up the children first, some were surprised that it could talk while others remembered hearing about it from relatives that are agents. It told them that they had to get out quickly as it proceeded to wake up the Pokémon. Out of curiosity, it had to ask them how they wounded up here and why didn't they return home. If they were out like this they could have left at any time, there's no way that all of them were sleeping this whole time.

    They couldn't remember…none of them knew how they got there or why they were there in the first place. It listened to them recollect their thoughts as they slowly realized that they were in the cave near home. Meowth couldn't help but think that was how it felt when it woke up. It decided not to dwell on it any further. They needed to start making their way out. The Pokémon seemed to have a better understanding of their surroundings as they offered to lead the way out. As their headaches started to cease, the children started to remember their way as their memories were starting to come back while still not able to recall how they got there in the first place. It seemed all too familiar to Meowth. Who could have done this?

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    They walked into a small open area with a few tunnels to choose from as Meowth picked up the sound of footsteps coming from behind them. It stopped in its tracks as the footsteps became silent, turning around to see the three men covered in black from head to toe. Their silence was as intimating as their black shades covering their eyes. Their black-gloved hands reached for their poke balls that contained their Pokémon. They released; Exeggutor, Leafeon and Abomasnow. There were no commands from the humans, it seemed as if the Pokémon were acting on their own. Exeggutor used physic on the Pokémon and children to prevent them from escaping as Leafeon and Abomasnow surrounded Meowth as their number one target. Meowth acted quickly as it used double team to multiple itself with all its copies using flash to blind its adversaries. Out of confusion, Abomasnow used earthquake by slamming its fists into the ground causing the caves to shake as well as creating a big hole in the ground revealing the hidden river flowing rapidly underneath. However, Meowth was able to blind the two long enough to keep them distracted. Meowth jumped high in the air as it slashed through Exeggutor's psychic glare causing it to break its concentration.

    "Hurry!" It yelled to the Pokémon. They wasted no time as they pushed the children out. The cave started to collapse due to Abomasnow's assault. The Pokémon and children ran away as well as the men and their Pokémon, all except for one. As Meowth proceeded to run out himself, he couldn't help but stop as the one man walked up to him slowly. Each step the man took made it harder for Meowth to move, its mind was racing as its dreams of the dark shadow appeared in the man's place. Is this the same man that separated them? What does he intend to do? What does he want? The man was standing over it as he reached out his black-gloved hand as if he were about to grab it, but as luck would have it…

    "Pi, Pi, Pi…Pikachuuuu!" Pikachu used electro ball on the mysterious man as the twerp entered the scene as well. The man bounced back to his feet quickly and was ready to fight.

    (Meowth!) Rinora appeared as the cave started to shake even more.

    (You must hurry! It's too dangerous to stay!) She hollered as she pointed the way out. Meowth didn't hesitate and started to follow the warm light she provided.

    "Pika Pi!" Pikachu shouted as they both saw Meowth run away as did the man covered in all black. He started to run after it but was stopped as Ash order Pikachu to use thunderbolt.

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    "Meowth! Wait up!" He shouted with Pikachu safely on his shoulder as he ran after it. Meowth stopped for Ash to catch up then quickly started to run again. Rocks were falling everywhere as the cave walls shook intensely. Meowth suddenly turned to run in an adjacent tunnel.

    "We came this way!" Ash shouted.

    "She said that way is blocked!" Meowth responded.

    "She?"

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    They entered the hall that was the home for the Statue of Rina. The ceilings were crumbling as boulders continued to fall.

    "We came through this way." Ash motioned to the tunnel they came in through.

    (You mustn't go that way, here go through here.) Rinora reappeared to Meowth as she pointed to a wall, (It's an old path that will take you to the labyrinth above. It will lead you to safety, hurry he's coming!) She then disappeared

    "She says that we need to go this way." Meowth said pointing to a wall.

    "It's a hidden passage, just break down that wall." Ash walks towards it as he briefly held a blank stare. Meowth held a blank stare of its own as it looked up at him.

    "I'm telling you the truth, she said this way is best." It spoke honestly.

    Ash's warm smile brightened his features as he said. "I believe you, I was just wondering what you would have done if I wasn't here."

    "It's hollow, I'm sure I would have managed just fine without you." It smirked as it responded snidely.

    "Ha, Ha" "Pikachu" The two laughed and smiled as Meowth's little smile started to grow as it chuckled slightly to itself. Ash ordered one of his Pokémon to break down the wall. Footsteps echoed as someone entered the hall as they turned around to see the man covered in black walking up to them.

    (Hurry!)

    Meowth heard a voice as a big boulder crashed into the statue causing it to block the man's path. Meowth ran up the stairs that were hidden behind the wall quickly with Ash right behind it. They exited the caves and were above the waterfall once again. The waterfall was becoming weaker as the vibrations from within the caves continued. Suddenly the ledges started to collapse as Meowth began to fall along with the rubble. Ash jumped after it and grabbed ahold of Meowth as he called out Noivern to catch them. He held onto Pikachu and Meowth tightly in his arms as they watched the beautiful waterfall disappear along with the labyrinths that were inside the caves. It was all gone, the high mountainside was in shambles. Noivern then brought them down to the ground safely.

    "Ash!" The twerp's friends came running towards them. Meowth quickly jumped out of the twerp's grip and ran to the edge of the water. The dust from the damage started to diminish as it saw up in the distance far away high in the sky three figures flying away. Suddenly, its legs gave way as its body became too heavy. Its body was going numb as it collapsed to its knees as its exhaustion started to consume its entire being. It's what happened last night, it was stuck lying here all night in unbearable pain until it was too much to handle and passed out.

    "Meowth, are you alright?" The twerp moved to its side as everyone gathered around, unsure why it collapsed.

    Meowth felt a gentle wind as a gentle hand placed itself on his head. He saw it was Rinora standing beside him.

    (I'm sorry, it's because of me. If you weren't so lethargic you wouldn't be feeling this way, at least not to this extent.) She moved in front of him to stand on the water's surface.

    (There's always the bigger picture to everything we see.) She said.

    (The energy maybe to much for you now but I'm sure you'll be able to rekindle your balance as change sweeps over your world.) She then placed a gentle hand onto its koban causing Meowth to stiffen at the touch. The koban sparkled its unique light, surprising everyone that it was doing it on its own.

    (We will always protect you as long as you keep your heart open.) She said as she started to fade away. A few stars and the sliver of the moon seemed to shine even brighter as she disappeared.

    Meowth suddenly felt the sharp pain enter its body as if it were being electrocuted internally. Meowth slowly moved its paw to its forehead.

    "Everything is spinning. I feel like my whole body might explode. What is this feeling? My body feels so heavy, I can't move." Meowth was trying to calm himself down as the strong sensation felt like it was pulsating throughout his entire body.

    "You're trembling," Ash mumbled at the unforeseen sight as everyone stared in bewilderment.

    "This happened before." They all thought as they recalled that terrible moment in the forest. Pikachu jumped off of Ash's shoulder as Dedenne jumped away from Bonnie as they both joined its side, looking at it worryingly as they acknowledged it was in dire distress.

    "Pi, Pikachu, Pika Pi, Pikachuuu." "De, De."

    Ash proceeded to pick it up but Meowth softly batted him away with what little energy it had left.

    "Do…n't" It huffed as it continued to look down. Ash squeezed his hands into fists as he watched it tremble in whatever pain it was bearing on its own. He's had it! He turned his cap backward and despite Meowth's best effort to push him away, it couldn't stop him from picking it up.

    trtrtrtrtrtrtrtr

    "No…stop…put me down!" Meowth protested but to no avail as Ash ran into town with it in his arms. It wasn't long till Ash rushed inside the Panacea as Meowth continued to tremble in his arms. It kept trying to get out of his grip but it felt so weak. It felt lighter than Pikachu. There was no feeling of force as Meowth kept trying to push him away. It was as if all of its energy was completely drained and yet it kept fighting as if its pride refused to submit in such away. No one was around as the wind chime rang, but it wasn't long till Elena rushed in to see what was all the commotion.

    "Espurr, you know better than to be out this late," She started chastising only to see it wasn't Espurr.

    "Oh, what are you doing back here?" She then noticed the feeble Meowth in his arms trembling in pain. Ash tightened his grip around it as Meowth continued to struggle to be put down. Elena acted fast as she went behind the counter and grabbed an unfamiliar packet. She then rushed over to them.

    ***Snap***

    Something popped in her hands as dust sprinkled onto Meowth. Within seconds Meowth past out while its body continued to tremble slightly.

    "What did you do?" He asked. She didn't answer him as she showed him the small coin-shaped pouch. It was aluminum blue with gold letters saying 'Snapping Sand,'

    "What is it?"

    "Sleeping powder." She answered.

    Elena took Meowth into her arms as she took it into the back with Ash right behind her. He followed her out into the garden. She walked to the back of the garden where there was a light yellow cabana. She pushed the light yellow curtains to the side revealing a small pool in the ground. The pool was very small as she gently sat Meowth down letting the water reach its shoulders as she rested its head to the side. She walked over to a small cabinet and opened its doors revealing gems, stones, potions and other items that were unfamiliar. She took a shiny black stone along with a light green stone. She placed the piece of jade into the pool as she took the black stone and smashed it into dust mixing it with other ingredients that were also unfamiliar to Ash.

    "What are you doing?" He repeated himself, "What is that?"

    "This is Hematite, this along with the Jade will help calm its mind, body, and spirit. I knocked it out because it's best for it to sleep it off."

    "What's wrong with it?" He asked as she poured the dust into the water creating a beautiful dark blue hue, then she lit a small leave that released a soothing smell and placed it near its head as the smoke drifted around it.

    "Its body is exhausted while its mind is running laps. It's just overstimulated with little to no energy. It should be back to normal within a few hours. You can come back for it tomorrow."

    "But I want to stay." He whined, Elena sighed as she looked at Meowth's sleeping form, observing that the convulsing has stopped.

    "I guess there would be no harm in that."

    "Do you know why it happened?" He asked. Elena turned away to start putting things back in their place.

    "Please, it happened before. We were in a forest near some ruins. I know its wrong of me to ask someone else and if I want to become a true Pokémon master than I should be able to figure it out myself but I don't know what I'm missing."

    He lowered his head in defeat as he felt the tears well up. Elena eyed the pool filled with cold water and what appeared to be a Meowth in a peaceful slumber. She then eyed the boy that pressed the lid of his hat closer to cover his tearful expression. She softly sighed to herself as she walked over to him. She then rested a comforting hand on one of his trembling shoulders.

    "Meowth are notorious at hiding things even the wisest of Pokémon masters have a hard time." She stated, "Meowth are also playful creatures filled with pride, making them one of the most stubborn of all Pokémon. I'm sure that