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What is your opinion on this story?

  1. This is the best thing I've ever read.

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  2. This is the best Pokemon story I've ever read.

    0 vote(s)
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  3. This is a great story.

    1 vote(s)
    25.0%
  4. This is a good story, but I've seen better.

    2 vote(s)
    50.0%
  5. This story really neads some work.

    1 vote(s)
    25.0%
  6. This is bad, but I think it could be better.

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  7. This is terrible, why do you even try.

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  8. This story is absolute garbage.

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  1. BZRich64

    BZRich64 The Mustachioed Machamp

    Pulgasari
    (Aron)
    Level 31
    Joined:
    Jun 12, 2017
    Posts:
    1,295
    PokéPoints:
    ₽590.7
    I want to work on my writing skills, so started working on a Pokémon fanfiction. I've been posting it on Fanfiction.net and figured I'd post it here too. I hope you all enjoy it. Feel free to PM me with any comments or questions.
    Used to update twice a week but no longer has a set schedule.

    As a bonus, I've put up character profile's here to help you, the readers, keep track of the extensive cast and maybe get some different insight into characters. Also includes some notes about the creation or development of certain characters.
    Beware of Spoilers. Updates sporadically.
    Ash Ketchum
    Gender: Male
    Age: 11
    Hair Color: Black
    Eye Color: Brown
    Pokémon: Pika the Pikachu, Spearow>Fearow, Sandshrew>Sandslash, Volty the Pikachu, Krabby>Kingler, Ghastly>Haunter, Raticate King, Egg
    Gym Badges: Boulder Badge, Thunder Badge, Cascade Badge, Earth Badge
    Home: Pallet Town, Kanto
    Family: Graham Ketchum (Father), Delia Ketchum (Mother)
    Brief Bio: One of the main four trainers of the story. He overslept when he was supposed to get his first Pokémon, leaving him stuck with a Pikachu. Normally lazy and not very bright, but a quick learner when he actually applies himself. He also seems to be able to see things others can't.
    Carmine Noir
    Gender: Male
    Age: 29
    Hair Color: Red
    Eye Color: Brown
    Pokémon: Feraligatr, Sneasel, Ursaring, Scizor, the Cianwood Tyranitar, ???
    Gym Badges: 8 Johto Badges
    Home: Olive City, Johto>Pallet Town, Kanto
    Family: Scarlet Noir-Rozzo (Sister)
    Brief Bio: A retired Pokémon Trainer from Johto who is close friends with Ash's parents. He joined Team Rocket at some point for reasons involving his sister and quickly became one of their highest ranking agents. The Ketchums convinced him to leave Team Rocket around five years ago, leading to him to make a deal with the International Police, giving them Giovanni. He lived comfortably in Pallet Town until Delia sent him to travel with Ash.
    Misty Sensational
    Gender: Female
    Age: 12
    Hair Color: Orange
    Eye Color: Greenish Blue
    Pokémon: Staryu, Starmie, Krabby, Lapras, Cerulean Gym Pokémon
    Home: Cerulean City, Kanto
    Family: Daisy Sensational (Oldest Sister), Lily Sensational (Second Sister), Violet Sensational (Third Sister)
    Brief Bio: The youngest of the Sensational Sisters of Cerulean City, and until recently the only one to take her position as Gym Leader seriously. She and Red rescued Yellow from drowning while fishing at Route 1. On her way home, her bike was destroyed by Ash's Pikachu, leading her to tag along with Ash until he can pay her back somehow. However, when Ash was able to pay her back, she found her sister Daisy had started to take her Gym Leader position seriously, so Misty left the Gym to Daisy for the time being to continue traveling with Ash. Doesn't like bugs. Or caves.
    Brock
    Gender: male
    Age: 15
    Hair Color: Dark Brown
    Eye Color: Brown?
    Pokémon: ???, Pewter Gym Pokémon
    Home: Pewter City, Kanto
    Family: Flint (Father), Lola (Mother), 9 younger siblings
    Brief Bio: He was a substitute Gym Leader for Pewter City until his father left for his Pokémon Journey, at which point he became the full-time Gym Leader. Now that his father has returned, Brock has chosen to travel around with Ash's group.
    Gary Seablue Oak
    Gender: Male
    Age: 10
    Hair Color: Brown
    Eye Color: Dark Blue
    Pokémon: Squirtle>Wartortle, Rattata, Pidgey>Pidgeotto, Spearow, Nidoran(m)>Nidorino, Nidoran(f)>Nidorina>Nidoqueen, Mankey, Growlithe, Exeggcute, other's I haven't mentioned (he's kind of a completionist when it comes to the Pokédex)
    Gym Badges: Boulder Badge, Cascade Badge, Rainbow Badge, Mushroom Badge, Specter Badge, Valor Badge, Core Badge
    Home: Pallet Town, Kanto
    Family: Samuel Oak (Paternal Grandfather), David Oak (Father), Daisy Oak (Twin Sister), Katherine Oak (Paternal Cousin)
    Brief Bio: One of the four main trainers of the story. His main focus is collecting as many Pokémon as he can and training them. he does a lot of training between scenes because it would get boring and repetitive if I put that in.
    Katherine "Kat" Oak
    Gender: Female
    Age: 17
    Hair Color: Brown
    Eye Color: Green
    Pokémon: Charizard, Beedrill, Nidoqueen, Exeggute, ???
    Gym Badges: 9 Kanto Badges, ? Johto Badges
    Home: Pallet Town, Kanto
    Family: Samuel Oak (Paternal Grandfather), David Oak (Paternal Uncle), Daisy Oak (Paternal Cousin), Gary Oak (Paternal Cousin)
    Brief Bio: A trainer who just got back from her Pokémon Journey last year. She has asked by her uncle to accompany Gary on his journey. Traveling has made her start thinking about getting back to competitive battling.
    Mallory "Mal"
    Gender: Female
    Hair Color: Dark Red
    Eye Color: Blue
    Home: Pallet Town, Kanto
    Family: Ciel (Younger Sister)
    Brief Bio: She was David Oak's campaign manager when he ran for Mayor of Pallet Town. She is now being hired by him to accompany Gary on his Pokémon journey. She was a cheerleader in college and is trying to relive her glory days by cheering on Gary in his battles.
    Susan "Sue"
    Gender: Female
    Hair Color: Purple
    Eye Color: Purple
    Home: Pallet Town, Kanto
    Brief Bio: She is a competitive swimmer that trained at the Cerulean Gym. She is currently accompanying Gary on his journey.
    Ciel
    Gender: Female
    Hair Color: Blue
    Eye Color: Blue
    Home: Pallet Town
    Family: Mallory (Older Sister)
    Brief Bio: Currently accompanying Gary on his journey. Looks up to Mal, but also lives in her shadow.
    Alice "Ali"
    Gender: Female
    Hair Color: Brown
    Eye Color: Brown
    Home: Pallet Town, Kanto
    Family:
    Brief Bio: David Oak's secretary who is currently accompanying Gary on his journey. Went to the same college as Mal and was also in the same cheerleading squad. She returned home after the S.S. Anne incident.
    Cleo
    Gender: Female
    Hair Color: Black
    Eye Color: Brown
    Pokémon: ???
    Home: Pallet Town, Kanto
    Brief Bio: I'll be honest. I have no idea what to do with this character. In place of a bio, I'll just give this bit of trivia. All of Gary's cheerleaders in this story were named after members of the 'Backers' trainer class in Black/White and Black2/White2. She returned home after the S.S. Anne incident.
    Samuel "Red" Redwood
    Gender: Male
    Age: 10
    Hair Color: Black
    Eye Color: Reddish Brown
    Pokémon: Charmander>Charmeleon, Paras, Porygon, Tentacruel
    Gym Badges: Boulder Badge, Cascade Badge, Thunder Badge, Rainbow Badge
    Home: Pallet Town, Kanto
    Brief Bio: One of the main trainers of the story. He is the best of the four at coming up with battle strategies. If only things would ever turn out the way he planned. He helped rescue Yellow from drowning and is now traveling with her.
    "Yellow"
    Gender: Female
    Age: 9
    Hair Color: Blonde
    Eye Color: Amber
    Pokémon: Maggie the Gyarados, Abraham the Abra, Chuchu the Pikachu
    Home: ???
    Family: ???
    Brief Bio: An amnesiac girl that Misty and Red pulled up from the river running through Route 1. She is traveling with Red in the hopes of finding out who she is. Although she doesn't really care that much and is more interested in just exploring and having fun. She seems to have some mysterious powers, but is unaware of it.
    Sable
    Gender: Female
    Hair Color: Purple
    Eye Color: Purple
    Pokémon: ???
    Home: Lavender Town, Kanto
    Brief Bio: A mysterious young woman who decided to tag along with Red and Yellow because she was board. She was a habit of asking people if they believe in ghosts and has the ability to shield herself from psychic powers. She also encountered Gary in Lavender Town after she had already left with Red and Yellow. Who is this woman?
    Daisy Greenleaf Oak
    Gender: Female
    Age: 10
    Hair Color: Brown
    Eye Color: Green
    Pokémon: Bulbasaur, Caterpie>Metapod>Butterfree, Egg>Cleffa (Shiny), Poliwag, Vulpix, Farfetch'd
    Gym Badges: Boulder Badge, Cascade Badge, Thunder Badge, Rainbow Badge, Mushroom Badge
    Home: Pallet Town
    Family: Samuel Oak (Paternal Grandfather), David Oak (Father), Gary Oak (Twin Brother), Katherine Oak (Paternal Cousin)
    Brief Bio: One of the main four trainers of the story and the only one to travel alone (at least for now). She wasn't really prepared for all that a Pokémon Journey ensued, but is determined to make her way to the Pokémon League. She is knowledgeable in the field of Pokémon-based medicine.
    Giselle
    Gender: Female
    Hair: Brown
    Eyes: Brown
    Pokémon: Cubone, ???
    Brief Bio: A former student of Pokémon Tech. She left the school to go on a Pokémon Journey and enter the Pokémon League. She is Daisy's self-proclaimed rival, though the two decided to travel together for a while after meeting up again.
    Looker (formerly 100kr, real name confidential)
    Gender: Male
    Age: Confidential
    Hair Color: Brown
    Eye Color: Brown
    Pokémon: Croagunk
    Home: Confidential
    Brief Bio: He was one of the Agents on Adonis' team when taking down the old Team Rocket five years ago. Because of his experience, he was placed in charge of the new team set up to take down the revived Team Rocket.
    Lance Blackthorn/Dragon
    Gender: Male
    Age: I haven't decided, probably late 20s to early 30s
    Hair Color: Red
    Eye Color: Brown
    Pokémon: Dragonite, ??? Gym Pokémon
    Home: Blackthorn City, Johto>???
    Family: Claire Blackthorn (Paternal Cousin)
    Brief Bio: The strongest member of the Blackthorn Dragon Clan, and next in line to be their Patriarch. Lance is currently serving as a member of the Elite Four, a group of higher ranking Gym Leaders. He is also Looker's informant about Team Rocket and has joined Looker's team full-time.
    009 (Real name Tulip Black)
    Gender: Female
    Age: I haven't decided yet, probably around 16-18
    Hair Color: Blonde
    Eye Color: Purple
    Pokémon: Alakazam, ???
    Home: Unknown
    Family: Unknown
    Brief Bio: A mysterious member of Looker's team. She is considered a prodigy among the International Police and is their youngest member ever. Looker has come to suspect her of being a double agent working for Team Rocket.
    Weston "Wes" Jaeger
    Gender: Male
    Age: 18
    Hair Color: Grey
    Eye Color: Amber
    Pokémon: Espeon, Umbreon, Suicune, Entei, Raikou, all of the Shadow Pokémon from Colosseum (I don't feel like listing them all), ???
    Home: Snagem Hideout, Orre
    Family: Jael Jaeger (Mother)
    Brief Bio: Was born into Team Snagem. About a year ago he left them and fought against Team Cipher alongside Rui. (Look up Pokémon Colosseum if you want to know the details behind that, it happened the same as in the game.) After taking down Team Cipher, he was eventually put in jail for his crimes in Team Snagem until looker recruited him into his team due to the discovery of Team Rocket's Dark Pokémon. Eventually reveals himself to be the son of Hunter J.
    Rui Masters
    Gender: Female
    Age: 17
    Hair Color: Orange
    Eye Color: Blue
    Pokémon: Pichu, Riolu
    Home: Agate Village, Orre
    Family: Eugun (Grandfather), Beluh (Grandmother)
    Brief Bio: After defeating Team Cipher alongside Wes, she went to train her her aura abilities and is now a qualified Aura Apprentice. She was recruited by Looker into his team due to her Aura powers and her experience with Shadow Pokémon, but only agreed with the condition that she would be able to work with Wes again.
    Charmander
    Species: Charmander
    Gender: Male
    Nature: Quite
    Ability: Blaze
    Moves: Scratch, Growl, Ember
    Trainer: Damian (formerly)
    Brief Bio: A Charmander who was released by his trainer. He went on a quest to find him, only to discover that Damian had abandoned him. He and the other members of his group decided to challenge the Pokémon League on their own.
    Bulbasaur

    Species: Bulbasaur
    Gender: Male
    Nature: Calm
    Ability: Overgrowth
    Moves: Tackle, Growl, Vine Whip, Poison Powder, Razor Leaf
    Brief Bio: A Bulbasaur who takes care of Pokémon and defends the Hidden Village. Joined Charmander in his quest to find Damian in order to keep Charmander safe. He is now working with the others to challenge the Pokémon League.
    Squirtle
    Species: Squirtle
    Gender: Male
    Nature: Rash
    Ability: Torrent
    Moves: Tackle, Tail Whip, Water Gun, Withdraw
    Brief Bio: As an egg, he was given to a sick girl named Samantha in order to serve as her companion. When Samantha passed away, Squirtle was released by her parents. Squirtle chose to live on in Samantha's place by being the best he could be and he founded the Squirtle Squad. He served as the leader of the Squirtle Squad until he lost a battle to Bulbasaur. He then decided to travel with Charmander's group until he could consider himself worthy of leading the Squirtle Squad again. He came up with the idea of their group challenging the Pokémon without a human.
    Zoroark/"Madame Darhk"/Zahira Darhk
    Species: Zoroark
    Gender: Female
    Hair Color: Red & Black
    Eye Color: Blue
    Badges: Thunder Badge, Mushroom Badge, Rainbow Badge
    Nature: Sassy
    Ability: Illusion
    Moves: Night Slash, Night Daze
    Home: Lostlorn Forest, Unova
    Family: Zorua (Son)
    Brief Bio: A mysterious lady that Charmander's Group ran into once, and later that Ash met on the S.S. Anne. She is, in fact, a Zoroark from Unova using a human disguise to track down Hunter J, who kidnapped her son. She confronted Hunter J on the S.S. Anne, but Hunter J was able to escape. She then met up with the others and was convinced to help them challenge the Pokémon League by pretending to be their trainer.
    Giovanni Rozzo
    Gender: Male
    Age: 30
    Hair Color: Black
    Eye Color: Brown
    Pokémon: Persian, Hitmonlee, ???, Viridian Gym Pokémon
    Home: Viridian City, Kanto
    Family: Gloria Rozzo (Mother), Scarlet Noir-Rozzo (Ex-Wife)
    Brief Bio: He was the son of Team Rocket's former leader until he sold her out to the International Police for his own freedom five years ago. He has recently revived Team Rocket for unknown purposes. He is also a (now former) member of the Council. He was once married to Carmine's sister, Scarlet.
    Mallory
    Gender: Female
    Age: I haven't decided, probably late 20s
    Hair Color: Purple
    Eye Color: Red
    Pokémon: Murkrow
    Home: ???
    Family: ???
    Brief Bio: Giovanni's secretary. She's an anime character who, as of this writing, does not have an official English name, so I named her Mallory. It is only now that I realize that's the same name I gave to one of Ash's cheerleaders. The two characters named Mallory in this story have nothing to do with each other, that was just an odd coincidence.
    Archer
    Gender: Male
    Hair Color: Light Blue
    Eye Color: Blue
    Pokémon: ???
    Brief Bio: One of Team Rocket's Executive Administrators. Like the other Admins, he was a member of the old Team Rocket who went with Giovanni on the deal with the International Police. He was placed in charge of training J, Thunder, Thief and Outlaw Squads.
    Ariana
    Gender: Female
    Hair Color: Red
    Eye Color: Red
    Pokémon: ???
    Brief Bio: One of Team Rocket's Executive Administrators. Like the other Admins, she was a member of the old Team Rocket that went with Giovanni on the deal with the IP.
    Proton
    Gender: Male
    Hair Color: Teal
    Eye Color: Green
    Pokémon: ???
    Brief Bio: One of Team Rocket's Administrators. Like the other Admins, he was a member of the old Team Rocket who went with Giovanni on the deal with the IP.
    Petrel
    Gender: Male
    Hair Color: Purple
    Eye Color: Brown
    Pokémon: ???
    Brief Bio: One of Team Rocket's Administrators. Like the other Admins, he was a member of the old Team Rocket who went with Giovanni on the deal with the IP.
    Meowth
    Species: Meowth
    Gender: Male
    Nature: Sassy
    Ability: Pickup
    Moves: Fury Swipes, Scratch, Bite, Growl
    Brief Bio: A Meowth that learned to walk and talk like a human. He joined Team Rocket and was formerly the leader of J Squad before becoming a part of the Elite Squadron.
    Jessie Starr
    Gender: Female
    Age: 25
    Hair Color: Red (or Purple if you prefer)
    Eye Color: Blue
    Pokémon: Ekans>Arbok, Lickitung, ???
    Home: Saffron City, Kanto
    Family: Myra Starr (Mother), ???
    Brief Bio: The daughter of a former Team Rocket agent that went MIA six years ago and childhood friend of Giovanni. Even though they've grown apart, Giovanni still appointed Jessie as a favor to his old friend, rather than her earning it by merit. Was a part of J Squad before becoming a member of the Elite Squadron. Rumored to be related to another high-ranking member of the current Team Rocket.
    James Berlitz
    Gender: Male
    Age: 25
    Hair Color: Blue
    Eye Color: Green
    Pokémon: Growlie the Growlithe (currently at his parents' home, or is it?), Koffing>Weezing, Victreebel, ???
    Home: Celadon City, Kanto
    Family: The Berlitz family
    Brief Bio: The only son of the Berlitz family living in Kanto (the main family lives in Sinnoh). He ran away from home at a young age to avoid an arranged marriage and joined Team Rocket. He was appointed as an agent due to the potential usage of his family's political and financial power, rather than by merit. He was a part of J Squad before becoming a member of the Elite Squadron.
    "Masque"
    Gender: Female
    Age: ???
    Hair Color: Reddish Brown
    Eye Color: Blue
    Pokémon: Dark Vileplume, ???
    Home: ???
    Family: ???
    Brief Bio: The first human test subject of Project Dark. She was a rank and file Team Rocket Grunt before her transformation, but is now one of their highest ranked Agents and a member of the Elite Squadron. She was also apparently responsible for defeating Sabrina during Team Rocket's takeover of Saffron City. But who is she? What's her story?
    Attila
    Gender: Male
    Hair Color: Blonde
    Eye Color: Undecided
    Pokémon: Skarmory, Forretress, ???
    Brief Bio: A Team Rocket Agent and former leader of Thunder Squad. Was assigned to find rare fossils in Mt. Moon, where he met Red. Now has a personal grudge against Red. After the S.S. Anne mission, he became a part of the Elite Squadron.
    Hun
    Gender: Male
    Hair Color: Gray
    Eye Color: Gray
    Pokémon: Steelix, Scizor, ???
    Brief Bio: A Team Rocket Agent and former member of Thunder Squad. Currently part of the Elite Squadron.
    Cassidy
    Gender: Female
    Hair Color: Blonde
    Eye Color: Purple
    Pokémon: Raticate, Wobbuffet, ???
    Brief Bio: A Team Rocket Agent and former leader of Outlaw Squad. After failing the advanced training course with Archer, she was turned into a human subject of Project Dark and is now a part of the Elite Squadron.
    Butch
    Gender: Male
    Hair Color: Green
    Eye Color: Brown
    Pokémon: Primeape, Poliwrath, ???
    Brief Bio: A Team Rocket Agent and former member of Outlaw Squad. After failing the advanced training course with Archer, he was turned into a human subject of Project Dark and is now a part of the Elite Squadron.
    John Vicious/The Iron-Masked Marauder
    Gender: Male
    Hair Color: Brown
    Eye Color: ???
    Pokémon: Dark Scizor
    Home: Pyrite Town, Orre
    Brief Bio: He was a scientist working for Team Cipher who left them shortly before their downfall. He joined Team Rocket where he modified Cipher's Shadow Pokémon project into Project Dark. He also made the Dark Balls based off of Team Snagem's Snag Machine.
    Jael Jaeger/Hunter J
    Gender: Female
    Age: 35
    Hair Color: Gray
    Eye Color: Blue
    Pokémon: Ariados, Salamence, Zorua, Shiny Raikou, Shiny Entei, Shiny Suicune
    Home: Phenac City, Orre
    Family: Wes Jaeger (Son)
    Brief Bio: Infamous as the world's best Pokémon Hunter, she had been hired as a mercenary by Giovanni to help Team Rocket, but left them during the S.S. Anne mission. She was a former member of Team Snagem and later Cipher and has stolen a prototype Aura Visor and Snag Machine from Krane Labs. She tried to take seat on the Council that was left open when Es Cade was arrested, but ended up replacing Giovanni on the Council instead.
    Annie
    Gender: Female
    Hair Color: Blonde
    Eye Color:
    Pokémon: Espeon, Donphan, ???
    Family: Oakley (Younger Sister)
    Brief Bio: A former Team Rocket Agent and leader of Thief Squad. Later left Team Rocket to work for Hunter J.
    Oakley
    Gender: Female
    Hair Color: Gray
    Eye Color: Orange
    Pokémon: Ariados, Umbreon, ???
    Family: Annie (Older Sister)
    Brief Bio: A former Team Rocket Agent and member of Thief Squad. Later left Team Rocket to work for Hunter J.
    Mohn
    Gender: Male
    Hair Color: Blone
    Eye Color: Green
    Home: ?
    Family: Lusamine (Wife), Gladion (Son), Lillie (Daughter)
    Brief Bio: President of the Aether Foundation and Chairman of the Council. He is an old friend of Giovanni, but their friendship has become strained due to Giovanni's aspirations and finally broke apart altogether after Giovanni was voted off of the Council.
    Maxie
    Gender: Male
    Hair Color: Red
    Eye Color: Red
    Home: Hoenn
    Brief Bio: Leader of Team Magma and a member of the Council.
    Archie
    Gender: Male
    Hair Color: Brown
    Eye Color: Brown
    Home: Hoenn
    Brief Bio: Leader of Team Aqua and a member of the Council.
    Cyrus
    Gender: Male
    Hair Color: Blue
    Eye Color: Blue
    Home: Sinnoh
    Brief Bio: Leader of Team Galactic and a member of the Council.
    Ghetsis Harmonia
    Gender: Male
    Hair Color: Green
    Eye Color: Red
    Home: Unova
    Family: Natural Harmonia Gropius (Adoptive Son), Anthea (Adoptive Daughter), Concordia (Adoptive Daughter)
    Brief Bio: One of the Seven Sages of Team Plasma and a member of the Council.
    Evice/Es Cade
    Gender: Male
    Hair Color: Gray
    Eye Color: Red
    Home: Phenac City, Orre
    Brief Bio: Former leader of Cipher and mayor of Phenac City before Wes defeated him and he was arrested for his crimes. The seat he once held on the Council would eventually go to his secret benefactor, Greevil Verich.
    Greevil Verich
    Gender: Male
    Hair Color: Bald (Formerly Brown)
    Eye Color: Red
    Home: Gateon Port, Orre
    Family: Ardos (Son), Eldes (Son)
    Brief Bio: The true Grand Master of Cipher, who has stepped out of the shadows to take direct control of the organization and claim the Council membership that was previously held by his unwitting pawn, Es Cade. He has sworn a personal vendetta against Hunter J, who tried to form her pwn version of Cipher and tried to take the Council membership he was after.
    Flint
    Gender: Male
    Hair Color: Dark Brown
    Eye Color: Brown?
    Pokémon: ???, Pewter Gym Pokémon
    Gym Badges: 8 Kanto Badges
    Home: Pewter City, Kanto
    Family: Lola (Wife), Brock (Oldest Son), Nine other children
    Brief Bio: The former Pewter City Gym Leader who left on his own Pokémon Journey. After losing the Pokémon League he became a souvenir rock salesman until seeing Yellow convinced him to return to his family and Gym duties.
    Daisy Sensational
    Gender: Female
    Hair Color: Blonde
    Eye Color: Green
    Pokémon: Cerulean Gym Pokémon
    Home: Cerulean City, Kanto
    Family: Violet Sensational (Oldest Sister), Lily Sensational (Middle Sister), Misty Sensational (Youngest Sister)
    Brief Bio: The oldest of the Sensational Sisters. She has recently begun dating Bill and has actually started getting interested in fulfilling her duties as a Gym Leader.
    Violet Sensational
    Gender: Female
    Hair Color: Blue
    Eye Color: Brown
    Pokémon: Cerulean Gym Pokémon
    Home: Cerulean City, Kanto
    Family: Daisy Sensational (Older Sister), Lily Sensational (Younger Sister), Mist Sensational (Youngest Sister)
    Brief Bio: Second of the Sensation Sisters. Writes the scripts for their water shows.
    Lily Sensational
    Gender: Female
    Hair Color: Pink
    Eye Color: Blue
    Pokémon: Cerulean Gym Pokémon
    Home: Cerulean City, Kanto
    Family: Daisy Sensational (Oldest Sister), Violet Sensational (Older Sister), Misty Sensational (Younger Sister)
    Brief Bio: Third of the Sensational Sisters.
    Erika
    Gender: Female
    Hair Color: Black
    Eye Color: Brown
    Pokémon: Celadon Gym Pokémon
    Home: Celadon City
    Brief Bio: Daughter of the wealthiest family in Kanto and Gym Leader of Celadon City. She has an old friend by the name of Karla who she has not seen in a long time.
    Cassandra
    Gender: Female
    Hair Color: Green
    Eye Color: Brown
    Pokémon: Paras, Mossgreen Gym Pokémon
    Home: Mossgreen Village
    Brief Bio: The most recent addition to the Kanto League's Gym Leaders. She agreed to become the new Gym Leader because it would bring in more business for her grandmother's medicine shop.
    Lorelei
    Gender: Female
    Hair Color: Red
    Eye Color: Red
    Pokémon: ???
    Home: Four Island, Sevii Islands
    Brief Bio: A member of the Elite Four who Lance decided to bring in on defeating Team Rocket. She has also taken Misty in as an apprentice and has trained her in the ways of Pokémon Training.
    Agatha
    Gender: Female
    Hair Color: Gray
    Eye Color: Brown
    Pokémon: Lavender Gym Pokémon
    Home: Lavender Town, Kanto
    Brief Bio: A member of the Elite Four who was once Professor Oak's rival when they were young.
    Sabrina
    Gender: Female
    Hair Color: Black
    Eye Color: Pink
    Pokémon: Alakazam, Saffron Gym Pokémon
    Home: Saffron City, Kanto
    Brief Bio: She has had powerful psychic abilities ever since she was a young child. When Team Rocket took over Saffron, she tried to stop them but was defeated by Masque. Several days later she came back working for Team Rocket. What happened to her to cause this sudden change?
    Professor Samuel Oak
    Gender: Male
    Age: 47
    Hair Color: Brown, turning Gray
    Eye Color: Blue
    Pokémon: Charizard, literately hundred of other Pokémon
    Gym Badges: 8 Kanto Badges
    Home: Pallet Town, Kanto
    Family: David Oak (Son), Kat's father (Son), Katherine Oak (Granddaughter), Gary Oak (Grandson), Daisy Oak (Granddaughter)
    Brief Bio: As a Pokémon Researcher and former Pokémon Champion, Prof. Oak is one of the most renowned authorities on Pokémon in the world. Despite this, he lives a rather humble life taking care of Pokémon and teaching the youth of Pallet Town. He was once Agatha's rival when they were young.
    Delia Ketchum
    Gender: Female
    Age: 29
    Hair Color: Brown
    Eye Color: Brown
    Home: Pallet Town, Kanto
    Family: Graham Ketchum (Husband), Ash Ketchum (Son)
    Brief Bio: Current owner of the Pallet House which, under her ownership, has gone from one bed and breakfast to one of the largest hotel chains around. Her husband disappeared four years ago and when Ash leaves on his Pokémon Journey, she makes her old friend Carmine go with him.
    Graham Ketchum
    Gender: Female
    Age: 29
    Hair Color: Black
    Eye Color: Gray
    Pokémon: Typhlosion, ???
    Gym Badges: ???
    Home: New Bark Town, Johto>Pallet Town, Kanto
    Family: Delia Ketchum (Wife), Ash Ketchum (Son)
    Brief Bio: Former champion of the Silver Conference and Carmine's rival. He settled down with Delia in Pallet Town, but went missing four years ago.
    David Oak
    Gender: Male
    Hair Color: Brown
    Eye Color: Blue
    Pokémon: ???
    Home: Pallet Town, Kanto
    Family: Samuel Oak (Father), Kat's dad (Brother), Daisy Oak (Daughter), Gary Oak (Son), Katherine Oak (Niece)
    Brief Bio: Mayor of Pallet Town and major businessman. Largest stockholder of Pallet House. Not much to this character, he's just there for background stuff to flesh out the Oak family. Interestingly, Gary's father being the mayor of Pallet Town actually comes from the Japan-only Pocket Monsters novel series by one of the anime's original writers. The Pallet House also comes from those novels, but is only a restaurant there.
    Sariah Redwood
    Gender: Female
    Hair Color: Brown
    Eye Color: Reddish Brown
    Home: Pallet Town, Kanto
    Family: Samuel Redwood (Son)
    Brief Bio: Her boyfriend left her after the birth of their son. She has tried to raise Red as well as she can, but her health has been in a steady decline for years, making it difficult.
    Doctor Sallow
    Gender: Male
    Hair Color: Black
    Eye Color: Brown
    Pokémon: ???
    Home: Viridian City, Kanto
    Brief Bio: A doctor working at the Viridian Hospital that took care of Yellow. Named after a kind of tree known for its medicinal uses. Might show up again if I feel like it.
    Rick Abner/Samurai/Ronin
    Gender: Male
    Age: 10
    Hair Color: Black
    Eye Color: Brown
    Pokémon: Pinsir, Heracross, Scyther, Metapod
    Gym Badges: ???
    Home: Viridian City, Kanto
    Brief Bio: A Bug-type specialist with an interest in Samurai stemming from his deceased father. He started out his Pokémon journey pretending to be a Samurai but quickly stopped after losing to Gary, Daisy, Red and Ash. Named after two Bug Catchers that can be encountered in Viridian Forest in various games. Will definitely be showing up again.
    Mysterious Pikachu
    Species: Pikachu
    Gender: Female
    Nature: ???
    Ability: ???
    Moves: ???
    Brief Bio: A Pikachu following Yellow. She is connected to Yellow's past and is trying to make sure 'he' doesn't find her. She began to think she would fail when Yellow caught an Abra that allows her to teleport anywhere she has been. Fortunately, Abraham the Abra is also a mind-reader and approached the Pikachu to form an alliance to keep Yellow safe from "him". Things went very badly, however, and she was not able to stop "him" from finding Yellow on the S.S. Anne.
    "Him"
    Gender: Male
    Age: ???
    Hair Color: ???
    Eye Color: ???
    Pokémon: ???
    Home: ???
    Family: ???
    Brief Bio: A mysterious figure mentioned by the Pikachu following Yellow. He found her on the S.S. Anne, but was repelled by her own energy burst. He is a powerful psychic, with three fingers on each hand. Who or what could he be?
    Seymour
    Gender: Male
    Hair Color: Brown
    Eye Color: Brown
    Home: Pewter City, Kanto
    Brief Bio: Works for the Pewter Museum of Science. Gave Daisy an Old Amber to give to Dr. Crichton and gave Red and Yellow a couple of fossils after they saved him from Team Rocket.
    Doctor Steven Crichton
    Gender: Male
    Hair Color: ???
    Eye Color: ???
    Pokémon: ???
    Home: Cinnabar Island, Kanto
    Brief Bio: A scientist working at Cinnabar Labs. Seymour wants Daisy to deliver the Old Amber to him. Named after Steven Spielberg (who directed movie Jurassic Park) and Michael Crichton (who wrote the Jurassic Park novel).
    Damian
    Gender: Male
    Hair: Blue
    Eyes: Dark Blue
    Pokémon: Charmander (released), Braviary, ???
    Brief Bio: A Pokémon trainer that released his starter Pokémon, Charmander, because it felt it was too weak. He then got a new team of 'better' Pokémon and is currently working towards the Pokémon League.
    Melanie
    Gender: Female
    Hair: Blue
    Eyes: Blue
    Brief Bio: A young woman who takes care of injured Pokémon in the Hidden Village.
    Pokémon Fan Club Chairman
    Gender: Male
    Hair: White
    Eyes: Brown
    Brief Bio. An old man who is the founder and chairman of the Pokémon Fan Club.
    Bill
    Gender: Male
    Hair: Brown
    Eyes: Brown
    Pokémon: Porygon
    Brief Bio: The keeper of the Cerulean Cape Lighthouse and inventor of the PC system of Pokémon management. He inherited the lighthouse from his grandfather. He is currently researching cases of Pokémon having different traits than normal after a giant Dragonite damaged the lighthouse. Has recently started dating Daisy Sensational.
    Samantha
    Gender: Female
    Age: 12 (Deceased), would be 15
    Hair Color: Light Blue
    Eye Color: Reddish Brown
    Pokémon: Squirtle
    Home: Cerulean City, Kanto
    Family: Parents
    Brief Bio: Samantha contracted an illness (probably some form of cancer, maybe leukemia) as a child, leaving her frail and confined to a wheelchair, unable to hang out with other children. Her parents gave her a baby Squirtle to be her companion. Eventually, she succumbed to her leukemia and passed away, leaving Squirtle alone. She was also big into anime.
    Pikoa
    Gender: Male
    Nature: Bold
    Ability: ???
    Moves: Surf, ???
    Brief Bio: A Pikachu with blue markings and power over the water. He has wandered the oceans helping those in need for longer than anyone knows. But how did this Pikachu come to be?
    Karla
    Gender: Female
    Hair Color: Reddish Brown
    Eye Color: Blue
    Pokémon: ???
    Home: Celadon City, Kanto
    Brief Bio: An old friend of Erika's who has not been heard from in a while. Her parents used to serve Erika's family. What could have happened to her.
     
    Stop hovering to collapse... Click to collapse... Hover to expand... Click to expand...
    #1 Jun 12, 2017
    Last edited: Sep 14, 2018
  2. BZRich64

    BZRich64 The Mustachioed Machamp

    Pulgasari
    (Aron)
    Level 31
    Joined:
    Jun 12, 2017
    Posts:
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    PokéPoints:
    ₽590.7
    "My name is Samuel Oak, but most of you probably know me as the 'Pokémon Professor'. 'What is a Pokémon?' some of you may be asking. Well to some people, Pokémon are pets. Some use them for the purposes of battle. Some see them as friends, and to others they are family. No matter what Pokémon are to you, there is no questioning the importance of meeting your first Pokémon.

    It was roughly thirty-six years ago that I was given my Charmander and I began my journey across the region, learning everything I could about Pokémon. And now, almost four decades later I can still remember that day as if it just happened.

    In ancient times children were sent into the wilderness to tame their first Pokémon as a rite of passage, an initiation of adulthood. In modern times the connotation of ascension into adulthood remains, but now they are given out to those who have graduated from a learning facility approved by the Pokémon League. Here in Pallet Town, I have been approved as a licensed instructor and children are taught under my supervision. This year there are four students who I have deemed worthy of this great honor.

    And so, without further ado, it is my proud honor to bestow onto these four promising trainers their first Pokémon as well as official Pokémon Trainer licenses and Pokédexes of my own design. First up we have Ash Ketchum."

    Prof. Oak looked over to his right where the Trainers-to-be were sitting. A wave of hushed muttering passed through the auditorium as the audience noticed that there were only three chairs filled. Noticing the unease filling the room, the professor tried lightening up the mood.

    "Well, either I can't count, or Ash is late like always. I swear, the day he shows up to something on time will be the day I die." His attempt at a joke didn't seem to go over well with the crowd, so he decided to move on. "Well, I guess we'll just save him for last and hope he shows up. Next up is my granddaughter, Daisy Oak."

    The only girl among the three stood up and walked over to her grandfather who picked up her license and a Pokédex from the table to his left. As Daisy reached the podium, the Professor handed them to her and shook her hand while people in the audience took pictures, then told her to stand behind the table, where four Pokéballs were resting.

    "And now my grandson, Gary Oak."

    One of the boys stood up and walked over to the professor who handed him his license and Pokédex, shook his hand, and asked him to stand by his sister.

    "And last, but certainly not least, Samuel Redwood."

    The other boy, informally known as Red, got up and did as the others. He got his license and Pokédex, shook the professor's hand and stood next to Gary.

    "Is Ash here yet? No? Then I guess we'll move on." Professor Oak looked over to the three standing behind the table. "Now that you each have your licenses, you are officially able to have your own Pokémon. Before you are four Pokéballs, each one contains a Pokémon that will become a lifelong friend and companion. Choose among yourselves who will take which one."

    Each of the children picked up one the Pokéballs and held it up proudly in front of them.

    "Good, now release them from their Pokéballs and say hello to your new Pokémon!"

    The three did as the professor told them and as they did he introduced each of them to their new companions.

    "Daisy, you have chosen the Grass-type Bulbasaur; Gary, you have chosen the Water-type Squirtle; and Samuel, you have chosen the Fire-type Charmander. Your very own Pokémon legends are about to unfold. A world of dreams and adventures with Pokémon awaits you!"

    * * *​

    As Daisy, Gary and Red set out on their Pokémon journeys, Ash Ketchum fell out of bed.

    "Huh? What?" It took him a moment to fully wake up. "Oh no! What time is it?" He looked over to his alarm clock and saw that it was broken. "How did…" Ash gazed out the window, seeing that the sun was already up higher than it should be. "It doesn't matter, I'm late."

    Ash got dressed and ran out the door as fast as he could, almost forgetting to put on pants. His mother must have left early that morning for work and went straight to the ceremony without him, assuming that he would get up on his own, as he usually did.

    He ran to Professor Oak's Laboratory where the graduation meeting he should be at was being held, or to be more precise, the building next to the lab that was used as a school. He slowed to a walk as he approached it, however, when he saw the large crowd leaving the building. His heart sunk as he realized that he missed his own graduation and getting his first Pokémon. Even worse, practically the entire town was there and saw that he missed it. Despite the embarrassment he walked past the crowd, saying hello to some of the people he knew. He made his way to the auditorium. Professor Oak was still on the stage, packing up his things. He looked up and saw Ash walking up to him.

    "Ah, hello Ash, I was wondering when you'd get here." The Professor stood up and picked up Ash's Pokémon license and the final Pokédex from the table. "I'm sorry you missed the ceremony, but if you want we can call your mother back here and we can still get a picture of you receiving your license."

    "No thanks." Ash held his head low as he took the license and Pokédex from the professor. "Do I still get a Pokémon?"

    "Of course you do." The professor picked up the last remaining Pokéball and held out to Ash. "Unfortunately, there's only one left so you don't get to choose."

    A huge smile crept over Ash's face as he grabbed the Pokéball from Prof. Oak's hand. "Thank you." He held out the Pokéball and pushed the button to release the Pokémon inside. A trail of red light poured from it and reached the ground where a small, yellow Pokémon materialized.

    "That's Pikachu, the Electric Mouse Pokémon." The professor explained. "Unfortunately, I only recently caught that one, so-"

    Ash reached out to pet his new Pikachu and was met with an electric shock throughout his system.

    "-you might have a little trouble with him at first."

    * * *​

    With his new Pikachu in tow, Ash made his way back home. While passing by the Oak family residence he saw Gary riding off with an entourage of women in a red convertible.

    "What?" Ash wasn't really sure what to make of that. Before he had time to question it further, Daisy walked up to him.

    "Hi, Ash."

    "Uh, hi Daisy. Who were those women with your brother?"

    "Oh, just some girls that work for our dad. He said something about Gary 'not being mature enough' to go on his own. If you ask me, I think it would be good for him to be on his own for once, but oh well. Oh, before I forget, I had something I wanted to give you."

    Daisy reached into her bag and shuffled around a bit before pulling out a large, folded piece of paper and handing it to Ash.

    "What's this?" Ash said as he took the paper.

    "It's a map. I figured that since you seem to get lost all the time just in this small town, you're bound to need one if you plan on traveling the region."

    "Well, thanks for the vote of confidence." Ash said sarcastically.

    "I didn't mean that as a bad thing, directions just aren't your strong suit. Well, I should be going. It's a long walk to Viridian and I want to get there before dark. Goodbye, Ash."

    "Bye, Daisy." They waved at each other as Daisy walked off on the first steps of her journey. Ash felt a bit of sting as he realized that he had no idea when he'd ever see Daisy, one of his closest friends, again. After a moment he started on his way again before stopping in front of the Pallet House.

    Pallet Town was a pretty small town, so they didn't have any hotels or inns. There weren't enough people that visited to warrant any. What they did have was the Pallet House, a small bed & breakfast that had been started up by Ash's grandparents long ago. Currently, it was owned by his mother, Delia Ketchum, who had expanded the Pallet House into a large chain with Pallet Houses in almost every major city in the country. The key to its success was that every Pallet House strives to give the cozy, small-town feel of the original, no matter where they were. People from rural areas love staying at them for a sense of familiarity in large urban environments, while people from the big cities love them for the exotic, rural environment that they can't experience anywhere else.

    Or so Ash had always been told, anyway. His mother has always been somewhat overprotective of him and had never let him go with her whenever she had to go out of town for business meetings or to open new Pallet Houses. All he knew was that the original one here only enjoyed mild success.

    Ash walked inside and found his mom in her office. Despite owning the entire chain, Delia preferred to leave the business aspects of the company to others while she managed this Pallet House on her own. She was still involved in big decisions, but she spent most of her time here.

    "Ash!" When Delia looked up and saw her son she immediately put down the paperwork she was doing and ran over to him. "How did it go? Did you get your Pokémon? Oh! That Pikachu must be him!"

    "Wait, mom, don't pet him he'll…" Ash trailed off as his mother put her hand under Pikachu's chin, expecting it to shock her like it had him. And to his surprise, it didn't. In fact, the yellow mouse Pokémon seemed to enjoy it. "Hey! When I tried that he shocked me."

    "You must have done it too hard, you need to be gentle." Delia looked up at Ash while still stroking Pikachu's chin and then suddenly pulled him into a hug and started crying. "I can't believe you're going. My baby boy is going away on his Pokémon journey all on his own." She continued going on but her sobbing made it almost impossible to tell what she was saying after that. But then she stopped crying and stood up. "Wait a minute. You don't have to go alone. Carmine! Carmine, get in here!"

    After a moment a man ran into the room. He was tall, with dark red, shoulder-length hair. He had huge bags under his dark brown eyes and overall and had a disheveled look about him.

    "There you are." Looking at Delia now, you would never guess that she had been bawling her eyes out less than a minute ago. "Carmine, I want you to go with Ash on his journey."

    Ash and Carmine both looked at each other. A loud "What?!" was both of their responses.
    Gary Oak had a plan. Once he got his Trainer's License, he would set out on his own to challenge the Gyms of Kanto, win their Badges and enter the Pokémon League. When he told his father these plans, his father, David Oak, simply laughed. According to David, Gary was 'not mature enough to be allowed on his own yet'. Gary tried to argue that his sister Daisy was going to travel on her own as well, but his father insisted that he had not 'earned that right'. And so Gary was now stuck in the back of one of his father's cars, escorted by the first six people his father could pay to completely drop whatever they were doing and accompany him for an indefinite amount of time.

    Gary glanced out at the grassy plain that was Route 1 and thinking about what he was missing. He could be out there right now training his Squirtle and catching more Pokémon. He saw some sort of large purple mouse in the distance and suddenly he had an idea. With no warning, he suddenly unbuckled his seat belt and jumped out of the moving car. The fall hurt like crazy, but he didn't let that stop him. He ran off to where he saw that mouse Pokémon, completely ignoring the car stopping behind him and the girls getting out of it to run after him.

    When Gary finally found the mouse, he called out his Squirtle from its Pokéball and ordered it to use Tackle on the wild Pokémon, and Squirtle rammed into the mouse with all its strength. The mouse was surprised by the sudden attack and retaliated with its own Tackle. Gary simply ordered his Squirtle to use Tackle again and the mouse went down. Gary threw an empty Pokéball at it while the girls finally caught up to him.

    "Are you alright?"

    "What were you thinking?"

    "Why did you do that?"

    Gary ignored their questions and picked up the Pokéball with his new Pokémon inside. He held it up high as he turned to face them.

    "I caught…" He quickly pulled out his Pokédex to see what it was he actually caught, "a Rattata! Level 2, male, slightly taller than average."

    * * *​

    Meanwhile, Red was also on Route 1. He had his Charmander out, walking alongside him so that they could bond. Red felt that it was important that they get to know each other since they would theoretically be spending the rest of their lives as friends and partners. Eventually, the two came to a river blocking the way.

    "You probably don't like water." Red looked down at the fire lizard, who nodded. "Well, there should be a bridge somewhere. I guess we should have been following the road."

    Red and Charmander looked to see if they could find the bridge. Unfortunately, they seemed to be too far away. All they could see was a girl fishing on the other side.

    "Well, the water doesn't look too deep. We should be able to wade our way across from here." Charmander looked like it was about to have a heart attack from Red's decision. "Sorry, I meant that I can wade across while you can wait in the safety of your Pokéball."

    Charmander let out a sigh of relief as Red pulled out his Pokéball and called him back in. Red then proceeded to cross the river holding Charmander's Pokéball above his head. The water was deeper than he thought, going up to his waist. When he got to the other side he also found that the water had pushed him closer to the fishing girl.

    "You really shouldn't cross the river like that." The girl said to him, as he stepped back onto dry land.

    "I made it across just fine."

    "You lucked out. A Water Pokémon could have knocked you over and you could have drowned. Not to mention that Charmander of yours would have drifted away into the sea."

    "I didn't think of that. I'll have to keep that in might next time I-"

    "Hold on, I got something." The girl tried to pull in her line, but whatever she caught was too strong for her. "Don't just stand there, help me!"

    Together they were able to pull up the line, but to both of their surprise it wasn't a Water Pokémon on the line, but a girl. She appeared to be a little younger than Red and had long blonde hair tied back in a ponytail. The girl that had been fishing lowered her ear to the unconscious girl's mouth.

    "She's still breathing, but only barely. We need to get her to a hospital!"

    * * *​

    Despite both of their protests, Ash and Carmine were unable to convince Ash's mother not to make them go together. And because of that, they were now running for their lives together from a flock of angry Spearow.

    "Can't you stop them with your Pokémon?" Ash yelled at Carmine.

    "You and your Pikachu are the ones who caused this! You stop them!"

    "What's Pikachu going to do against them?"

    "It's an Electric-type. They're Flying-types. You just graduated from school, right? You figure it out!"

    "Oh, right." Ash stopped running and turned to face the flock. "Pikachu! Thundershock!"

    The Pikachu desperately clinging on to Ash's shoulder didn't react to his command. Before Ash could go back to running, the Spearow caught up to him and started attacking him from every side.

    "Come on, really." Carmine stopped and reached down to one of the Pokéballs around his belt. Before he called out the Pokémon inside, however, he was stopped by a huge burst of electricity that shot out from inside the flock of Spearow.

    Pikachu let out another surge of electricity, knocking all but one of the Spearow to the ground, unconscious. The last remaining Spearow had now become even angrier than before and continued its assault on Ash, and Pikachu didn't have enough energy for another attack. In order to defend himself and his Pikachu, Ash reached into his backpack and pulled out the first thing he could grab out of it and threw the object at his attacker. Two seconds later and the Spearow had been successfully caught inside of the Pokéball.

    Carmine helped pull Ash back up onto his feet. "Well, I've got to say kid; that was actually kind of impressive, almost. I think I understand why your mom wanted me to go with you now, though. I could only imagine what could have happened if I wasn't here."

    "What are talking about? You didn't do anything!"

    "We should keep moving. It looks like there's a storm coming."

    "Don't change the subject!"

    * * *​

    As it happens, there really was a storm coming, as Daisy Oak found out the hard way. The rain came down hard as she tried to shield herself with her bag.

    "Maybe I should have gone with Gary." She muttered to herself. "I'm sure he's nice and warm in dad's car right now."

    She continued trudging through the rain for a while, but then she heard the sound of thunder and saw a lightning bolt fall from the sky.

    "This day just keeps getting better and better." She said sarcastically.

    After a while, the storm finally cleared up, just as she came within visual range of Viridian City.

    "Finally, things are starting to look up." She continued walking towards the city but then slipped into a muddy ditch.

    "Oh! Come! On! I'm sopping wet, I've been walking for hours, the sun is already starting to go down, and now this. I just got this dress and now it's ruined."

    Daisy didn't bother getting back up at first. She just stared up at the setting sun. Eventually, she began to laugh.

    "If I can make it through this, then I can make it through anything you can throw at me, world! I will continue my journey! I will take on the Gym challenges! I will enter the Pokémon League!"

    She got up and climbed out of the ditch, then pointed a finger up to the sky and exclaimed at the top of her lungs:

    "Look out, world! Daisy Greenleaf Oak has got your number, and she's not calling you back!"

    She then lowered her hand back down again.

    "Wait, no, that didn't make any sense."

    Her hand shot back into the air again.

    "Look out, world! I will accept! No! Refunds! No, that was stupid."

    Daisy continued trying to come up with a good one-liner all the way to Viridian, but couldn't come up with anything.
    Gary walked into the Pokémon Center with pride. He had just started his journey earlier that day and now he already had four Pokémon. In addition to his Squirtle and the Rattata he caught, he also managed to catch a Pidgey and a Spearow.

    "Welcome to the Viridian City Pokémon Center." The nurse waiting at the main desk said. "Would you like to heal your Pokémon back to perfect health?"

    Gary put his four Pokéballs in the tray the nurse held out him. She put the tray into the large machine next to her and after a moment took the tray back out and held it out to him.

    "Thank you for waiting. We've restored your Pokémon back to perfect health. We hope to see you again!"

    "What do you mean?" Gary asked as he took his Pokéballs back. "Are you saying you want my Pokémon to get hurt so I need to come back?"

    "Not at all. You are clearly a Pokémon Trainer, and in your line of work, it is inevitable that your Pokémon will eventually need healing again. What I meant was that I hope you come back here when that happens."

    "I guess that makes sense. It still seems odd to say, though."

    Gary turned around and began to walk back out. As he reached the door he turned again and spoke. "Smell you later."

    Outside, his chaperones were waiting for him. By now he was pretty sure he knew most of their names.

    Mallory, or "Mal", had curly, dark red hair. She had been Gary's father's campaign manager when he ran for mayor and had now more or less become the de-facto leader of the group.

    Katherine, aka "Kat", had long, brown hair and a notable tan. She was Gary's cousin from his mother's side. She had just returned home from her own Pokémon Journey around Kanto a few weeks ago.

    Ciel's hair was an odd blue color that Gary was pretty sure was dyed. She was Mallory's younger sister.

    Cleo's had black hair that she kept in a bob-cut. She was trying to form a career as a singer but hadn't had any success.

    Sue, short for Susan, had long, purple hair. She was a competitive swimmer with aspirations of entering the Pokélypics.

    And finally, there was Alice, or Ali. Her hair was short and brown. She was Gary's father's secretary.

    Right now, all six were wearing cheerleader outfits for no discernible reason.

    "What are you wearing and why are you wearing it?"

    "You're going to challenge the Gym Leader now, right?" Mal answered.

    "Yes..." Gary couldn't tell where they were going with this.

    "We're going to cheer you on in your match!" Kat chimed in.

    Gary just sighed and started walking towards the gym. When he got there he found that it was closed.

    "Hey, what gives?" Gary kicked the door in frustration. "I came all the way here and the gym isn't even open!"

    "The Gym's been closed for a while," said an old man sitting in front of the building, "no one was seen the Gym Leader in quite some time."

    "Then how is anyone supposed to get the Gym Badge?"

    "If he doesn't show up soon, the Pokémon League officials will assign a new Leader. You also only need eight of the fifteen badges available in Kanto to take part in the Pokémon League tournament, if that's what you want."

    "Alright, fine. Come on girls, let's find a hotel."

    * * *​

    Red and the girl who had been fishing earlier were sitting in the waiting room of the Viridian Medical Emergency Center.

    "My name's Red, by the way." He had just realized they had not introduced each other yet.

    "I'm Misty."

    A man walked into the waiting room.

    "Hello, my name is Doctor Sallow. Are you the ones who brought in the girl?"

    "Yes. Is she going to be alright?" Misty asked the doctor.

    "Yes, she's going to be just fine. You got her here just in time. She's resting right now, but should be able to leave tomorrow."

    "That's a relief."

    The doctor left to check on another patient, leaving Red and Misty alone again.

    "Hey, Red," Misty turned to the young trainer, "Can you stay here to see her when they let her out?"

    "Yes. Why?"

    "I have to get back home to Cerulean, so I won't be able to stay myself." Misty pulled out what looked like a business card and wrote something on the back. "I want you to call me when they let her out. I want to know who she is and how she's doing." She handed the card to Red who took it from her.

    "Wow, I've been a Trainer for less than a day and I've already got a girl giving me her number."

    Misty shot him a death glare.

    "I was only joking. I'll call when she gets out." He looked down at the card and his mouth dropped for a second. "Hold on, you're a Gym Leader?"

    "Well, one of four, actually. My sisters and I share the title. But if I leave them alone for too long they get lazy and just hand out the Cascade Badge to trainers instead of accepting Gym Challenges and letting the trainers earn it. I've got to get back to make sure they actually do their job."

    * * *​

    When Daisy finally made it to Viridian City, the sun had already fallen. She pulled a map and her address book out of her bag and began searching the city for something. Finally, she found it; Viridian City's Pallet House. She walked inside and was greeted by the receptionist and the front desk.

    "Hello, and welcome to the Pallet House."

    "Hello. I'd like an overnight room for one."

    The receptionist seemed friendly enough but his mannerisms suggested that he did not like the idea of a dirty, mud-covered kid staying here. His expression changed, however, when she handed him a small, plastic card.

    "This is a VIP membership card. Where did you get this?"

    "Mrs. Ketchum gave it to me as a gift when I left to start my Pokémon Journey this morning."

    "You know the owner?"

    "Yes, she's my neighbor. I'm also friends with her son and I worked at the original Pallet House last summer. Oh, and my dad's a major stockholder in the company."

    The receptionist just stared at her for a moment; trying to comprehend how this mud-covered little girl could be so important to the company he'd been working at for years.

    "So, can I have my room?"

    "R-right, of course. Can I get a name?"

    "Daisy Oak."

    After a moment of entering her information into a computer, he handed the card back to Daisy and gave her a room key. "Enjoy your stay at the Pallet House."

    "Thank you." Daisy took her card and the key and headed up the stairs.

    "I can't believe that just happened." The receptionist muttered to himself. Just then the front door opened again and a boy came in followed by six women.

    "We need some rooms." The boy said as he walked up to the desk and held out a VIP card.

    "N-name?"

    "Gary Oak."

    * * *​

    When Ash and Carmine made it to Viridian City, Ash insisted that they stay at the Pokémon Center. When Carmine asked why they needed to stay there, Ash answered that the Pokémon Center offers free lodging for Pokémon Trainers. Carmine pointed out that they could stay at the Pallet House for free too, and that they would have better accommodations. Ash's reply was something along the lines of 'that not being the genuine Pokémon experience' and that was the end of that argument.

    While Ash was sleeping in the dorm room along with all the other Trainers there that night, Carmine chose to walk around the city instead. He had been having problems with insomnia for years and found that walking around outside for a while before going to bed helped him sleep.

    As Carmine walked by an alleyway, he happened to turn and see two suspicious looking people standing there in familiar looking uniforms. There were a man, a woman and a Meowth standing on its hind legs.

    "Team Rocket." Carmine muttered to himself as he moved out of view from the alley. "What are they doing here?"

    He peered into the ally again and was relieved to see that they hadn't noticed him. He tried listening in on their conversation.

    "And then we nab all da Pikachu's that are in da Pokémon Center 'cause of da storm." Carmine thought he had seen everything, but a talking Meowth just proved him wrong.

    "Then what are we waiting for? Let's go!" The woman said, walking out of the alley and straight into Carmine.

    "And where do you think you're going?" Carmine asked the trio.

    "That's none of your business." The man said.

    "You're wearing Team Rocket uniforms. That makes it my business."

    "And you do think you are, talking to us like that?" The woman pointed an accusatory finger at Carmine's chest.

    "My name is Carmine Noir."

    "Is that supposed to mean something?"

    "It should. I guess Team Rocket must have changed their uniform policies. I thought white was reserved for the higher-ups."

    "Why you… Prepare for trouble!"

    "And make it double!"

    "To protect the world of devastation!"

    "To unite all people within our nation!"

    "To denounce the evils of truth and love!"

    "To extend our reach to the stars above!"

    "Jessie!"

    "James!"

    "Team Rocket, blast off at the speed of light!"

    "Surrender now, or prepare to fight!"

    "Meowth! That's right!"

    Carmine had to hold back his laughter. "What was that?"

    "It was our motto. Now take this! Ekans!"

    "Koffing!"

    The two sent out their Pokémon, a snake and a ball filled with gas, respectively.

    "Not even evolved? You must be really low-ranked grunts." Carmine let out a chuckle.

    "So what, I doubt you even have any Pokémon to defend yourself." James said.

    Carmine pulled out a Pokéball. "I think I'll have a bit of fun with you. Sneasel, use Beat Up."

    The small, black Pokémon came out of its Pokéball already ready to attack. It took a swipe at Ekans and then immediately returned to its Pokéball. And then, one by one, each of Carmine's other Pokémon came out of their Pokéballs, attacked one of Team Rocket's Pokémon, and retreated before Sneasel came out again. By the time Sneasel was back out, both Ekans and Koffing were lying unconscious on the ground, with Jessie, James and Meowth staring in horror.

    "How… How did you…"

    "As I said, my name is Carmine Noir. Tell your boss I said I'm looking forward to a rematch someday."
    When Ash woke up the next morning after he started his Pokémon journey, it took him a moment to realize where he was.

    "That's right; I'm in the Viridian Pokémon Center… I'm a Pokémon Trainer!"

    "One with a penchant for sleeping in." Carmine was sitting at a table to the side of the room, reading a book. "All the other trainers that were staying here last night have already left."

    Ash looked around and, sure enough, there was nothing but a bunch of empty bunk beds and the table Carmine was sitting at. Pikachu was resting on the other side of the table.

    "Why didn't you wake me up?"

    "I thought if the sounds of everyone else getting up, getting packed and chatting amongst themselves weren't going to wake you up, I wasn't going to be able to. It was pretty loud in here. Besides, I'm just here to keep you out of trouble, if you want to sleep in and fall behind the others then that's your choice."

    Ash jumped up with that last statement. "Oh, no! I can't fall behind Gary." He grabbed his backpack and ran to the bathroom to get changed.

    "Ah, the rivalries of youth. The constant need to best your fellow trainers, especially the ones you know the best. I remember when I was his age, traveling around the Johto region." Carmine spoke to Pikachu, who clearly wasn't listening. "I had a rival. Both in Pokémon battling and in love. I lost in both. But why am I talking to you? You don't care."

    Ash reentered the room, dressed and ready to go.

    "Come on, Pikachu! Let's go!" Ash held out his arm for Pikachu to jump on. He didn't.

    "Why don't you just keep him in his Pokéball?" Carmine asked Ash as he put his book down and stood up.

    "He won't go back in." Ash tried picking Pikachu up but was met with a shock instead.

    "Well, this is going to be a long trip." Carmine picked up his own backpack and put on a black beret.

    "When did you get that?"

    "I stopped by a clothing store this morning and decided to get it. This style is supposed to be popular among veteran Trainers in Unova."

    "Why would you care about fashion trends half-way around the world?"

    "I just thought it looked good on me. Oh, and I saw the Oak girl there, too."

    * * *​

    West of Viridian City is Route 22, which leads to the Indigo Plateau, home of the Pokémon League. This route is where Gary was now training. Despite its close proximity to Route 1, Route 22 has a different variety of Pokémon that call it home. Among these are Nidoran, which Gary was now caught two of, one male and one female. Another Pokémon from Route 22 is Mankey, one of which is what Gary currently has his sights on.

    "Squirtle, use Tackle!"

    Squirtle charged up to its opponent, but before its attack could hit, the Mankey countered with a Low Kick, knocking Squirtle off his feet and onto the back of his shell.

    "Don't let it make a fool out of you Squirtle! Use Bubble!"

    Squirtle let out a stream of bubbles from its mouth that hit the Mankey square in the face. The force of the attack allowed Squirtle to get back onto its feet and Tackle Mankey. This time the attack hit and Mankey was the one who fell down. Making the most of this opportunity, Squirtle Tackled the Mankey again and this time it was knocked out cold. Gary threw a Pokéball at the Pig Monkey Pokémon and caught it with ease.

    "Way to go, Squirtle." Gary pet his starter's head as he turned to the Pokéball in his hand. "This Mankey should make a fine addition to our team." Suddenly the Pokéball vanished from his hand. "Wait, what?"

    "Pokémon League rules say that Pokémon Trainers can only have six Pokémon with them at a time." Kat explained. "You already have your Squirtle, Rattata, Pidgey, Spearow and those two Nidoran, so the Mankey was automatically sent away. Most likely back to the Pokémon care facility by the Professor's lab back in Pallet."

    "I already know that."

    "Then what were you confused about?"

    "I just don't know how the transfer was able to happen automatically like that."

    "Each Pokéball contains information about the Pokémon inside and networks with your Pokédex. When the Pokédex registers six Pokémon as already being with you than any more are sent to whatever care facility that it’s set to, where they can be properly cared for by the workers there. That way you, the trainer, can focus on the six you have with you."

    "But how do they get it to work. That kind of teleportation can't be easy."

    Kat just shrugged. "I don't know. I'm a trainer, not a scientist."

    The others had similar reactions to his question.

    * * *​

    Red was still sitting in the hospital waiting room when Doctor Sallow entered the room, this time with the girl standing next to her.

    "The doctor says you saved my life. Thank you." The girl gave a slight bow as she spoke.

    "Misty's the one that fished you out of the river, I just helped. It's her you need to thank."

    The girl looked around. "Where is she?"

    "She had to go home, but she gave me her number so that we can call her and let her know you're alright. I'm Red, by the way."

    "My name's Yellow… I think."

    Red looked at her, puzzled.

    "Yellow seems to have lost all memory from before you pulled her out of the river." The doctor explained. "Unfortunately, without knowing who she is for sure, we can't contact her family to pick her up."

    "Well, that… doesn't sound good."

    "We can't send her on her own, so if we can't find her family then we're going to have to send Yellow into child services."

    Yellow looked up at Doctor Sallow and spoke. "I want to go with Red."

    Both the doctor and Red were surprised by this statement. The doctor scratched his clean-shaven scalp as he tried to think of the right way to tell her why that wouldn't work.

    "We can't send you with Red. We need to find someone who knows you."

    "I want to go with Red." Yellow said again. "He saved my life, and he feels…" Yellow trailed off like she couldn't find the right word, "good."

    "This is highly irregular." Doctor Sallow interjected.

    "You're traveling the region, right?" She asked Red.

    "Yes, but how did you know-" Yellow cut him off before he could finish.

    "So if I go with you, then you can help me find my family, wherever they are."

    "That does make sense, I guess."

    Doctor Sallow continued to point out why she couldn't go with Red, but it was no use. Finally, he relented and Red and Yellow left the hospital side by side.

    * * *​

    After yesterday's storm, Daisy decided that a change in wardrobe was needed if she was to continue her journey. Before, she had not taken into consideration the physical taxation her journey would have on clothing, so she had worn a simple green dress; a dress that had already been ruined by the rain and her fall into the mud puddle yesterday. But now Daisy had more of an idea of what she was doing, she had just purchased new clothes better suited to her journey.

    As she left Viridian to head for Pewter, she wore a blue and black tank top, a red skirt and a white sun hat with pink trim designed after a Premier Ball. And most importantly, a good pair of running shoes that would serve her well. Going around Kanto would require a lot of walking, after all, and a lot of running.

    She approached the edge of the city and the entrance of Route 2.

    "Here we go." She said to herself. "Day 2 of my Pokémon Journey. Let's hope this goes better than yesterday."
    Gary wandered through Viridian Forest, Kat, Mal and Ciel close behind. Ali, Sue and Cleo were taking the car around to Pewter City the long way. As Gary crept through the tall grass of the forest floor trying to sneak up on any wild Pokémon he could find, he was startled by the arrival of a kid in strange attire.

    "You there! Trainer! I challenge you to a Pokémon Battle!" The kid shouted so loud he hurt Gary's ears.

    "Who are you?"

    "I am Samurai, of the Viridian Forest!" Sure enough, the kid was wearing what appeared to be a recreated suit of feudal era samurai armor.

    "Who's your shogun?"

    "My what?" 'Samurai' was visibly thrown off by Gary's question.

    "Your shogun. All samurai serve a master known as a shogun. If you're a samurai, then who's your shogun?"

    "I serve no master but the forest!"

    "Well, if you don't serve a shogun then you can't be a samurai. A ronin, maybe, but not a samurai."

    "Fine!" The kid clearly just wanted to be battling already. "Then I am Ronin of the Viridian Forest! So, do accept my challenge or not?"

    "Sure. I don't see why not. What are the terms?"

    "A one-on-one duel is all that I ask of you!"

    Both trainers' called out their Pokémon. Gary sent out his Mankey, while 'Ronin' sent out a Scyther. 'Ronin' made the first move.

    "Gary! Gary! He's our man! If he can't do it, no one can!"

    Both Gary and 'Ronin' just stared at the three girls.

    "I thought I told you not to do that." Gary said to them.

    "Yeah, but Mal said we needed to anyway." Was Ciel's response.

    "Mal isn't here, is she?"

    "No."

    "Then don't do the cheer." Gary turned back to his opponent. "Now, where were we?"

    "Scyther! Use Focus Energy!" 'Ronin' shouted at his Pokémon, who drew in power for its next attack.

    "Mankey, Scratch!"

    Mankey clawed at the Scyther until Scyther returned the favor with its Fury Cutter. The Bug-type move didn't do very much against the Fighting-type Mankey, but the barrage of strikes was able to knock Mankey down. It got up and tried to counter with Low Kick to knock the Scyther off its feet, but Scyther just took to the air with its wings.

    "Now is your chance, Scyther! Quick Attack!"

    Scyther dove down and slammed into Mankey at top speed.

    "Don't just sit there and take it, Mankey! Use Scratch!"

    Mankey clawed the Scyther's wing before it could get back out of range, forcing the Scyther back onto the ground. Mankey then followed that up with a Low Kick and another Scratch, defeating the Scyther.

    "That was a very good battle!" ‘Ronin’ said.

    "Speak for yourself. That was barely a warmup."

    "Who are you, that you were able to beat me so easily?"

    "The name's Gary Oak, from Pallet Town."

    "From Pallet Town? Then I shall regain my lost honor by defeating all trainers from Pallet Town!"

    "What lost honor? It was just a Pokémon battle."

    'Ronin' stormed off without answering Gary's question. Gary just sighed and moved on.

    * * *​

    Daisy was walking through the Viridian Forest when she spotted a Caterpie sleeping on a tree. She thought it looked adorable so she threw a Pokéball at it and caught her first Pokémon. Walking a bit further into the forest she encountered another Caterpie and decided to try out her new Pokémon.

    "Come on out, Caterpie." She sent it out and discovered to her dismay that Caterpie was still sleeping. The wild Caterpie Tackled hers, knocking it over, but not waking it up.

    "Caterpie, wake up!"

    The wild Caterpie Tackled Daisy's again and woke it up this time. Daisy's Caterpie Tackled the wild one and was able to knock it out in one hit.

    "That was a close. I thought for a moment you weren't going to wake up at all."

    Daisy's Caterpie then started shooting its String Shot straight into the air over its head, covering itself in a chrysalis.

    "What are you doing?" Daisy pulled out her Pokédex. "Wait, you're evolving? Already?"

    Just then a boy in samurai armor came out of seemingly nowhere.

    "You! Are you from Pallet Town?"

    "Y-yes…" Daisy wasn't really sure what to make of this strange boy.

    "Then I, Samurai of the Viridian Forest, challenge you to a Pokémon Battle!"

    "A samurai? So do you serve a Shogun then?"

    'Samurai' put his palm to his forehead. What were the odds that two trainers in a row would point out that flaw in his self-appointed title?

    "I am Ronin of the Viridian Forest, then!"

    "Okay, 'Ronin'. How is this battle going down?"

    "I see you have a Metapod!" 'Ronin' pointed to the newly evolved Pokémon in front of Daisy. "Then the battle shall be your Metapod against mine!" He called out his own Metapod.

    Metapod cannot move and their only attack is Harden, which makes it more durable, but is not an actual attack. As such, the battle went on for a very long time.

    * * *​

    Red and Yellow entered the Viridian Forest. Red still wasn't really sure about letting Yellow go with him. He looked down at his companion as they walked and she looked back up at him with a huge smile. He just couldn't say no to that. They continued walking along the path leading through it until they came to a fork in the path.

    Red pulled out his map to see which way they needed to go to get to Pewter City. Yellow looked around as he did so and for a moment he thought she saw a flash of movement up in the trees.

    "Did you see that?"

    "See what?"

    "Never mind, it was probably nothing."

    * * *​

    Daisy and 'Ronin' were still waiting for something to happen in their battle when suddenly Daisy's Metapod began to glow brightly. A crack formed along its back and a Butterfree burst out from its pre-evolved form's shell. Time seemed to stand still for Daisy as her majestic Pokémon rose up, covered in the glittering dust. It was a magnificent sight to behold. A wave of purple energy emitted from Butterfree's antennae and the Psychic attack sent Metapod flying into 'Ronin', knocking him back into a tree.

    "Fine! I admit defeat!" 'Ronin' got back up and called back his Metapod into its Pokéball, then walked off.

    "You're so cool!" Daisy hugged her new Butterfree. "Catching you was the best thing I've ever done! I can't believe that… wait. Are you already sleeping again?"

    Daisy could not believe it. Her beautiful and powerful Butterfree was apparently narcoleptic.

    "Okay. It looks like catching you may have been a mistake after all. Oh well."

    * * *​

    After Red finally picked which way to go, he ran into the kid in samurai armor.

    "You are from Pallet Town, are you not?" The kid asked him.

    "Yes, but how did you know that?"

    "I am Samurai of the Viridian Forest. I challenge you to a one-on-one Pokémon battle!"

    "Okay, you're on." Red pulled out a Pokéball.

    "Go! Heracross!" 'Samurai' sent out his Pokémon.

    "Charmander." Red was rather unenthusiastic with this fight. He was more confused by the kid randomly dressed up as a samurai.

    "Heracross! Use Horn Attack!"

    The blue beetle Pokémon rammed into Charmander with its giant horn.

    "Charmander, use Ember."

    Charmander let out a small puff of fire burned Heracross. Heracross Tackled Charmander, but Charmander just used Ember again a few times and the battle was one.

    "No! I can't believe this! How could I lose three battles in a row?" 'Samurai' was no longer trying to hide his distress like he had after losing to both Gary and Daisy.

    "Hey, don't feel too bad about it. We all run into bad luck sometimes." Red tried to comfort 'Samurai', who looked like he was about to break down crying. "You said three battles, right?"

    "That is correct! I have challenged three trainers from Pallet Town today and lost every battle!"

    "Three trainers from Pallet. That means you have one left. Just do your best and I'm sure you can do it."

    "Do you really think so?"

    "Of course!" Yellow chimed in, in her usual cheery fashion.

    * * *​

    A lone Pikachu looked over the trainers below from the treetops. "That's definitely her." She thought to herself.

    "I've found her at last, but what do I do now? Do I contact her? She doesn't seem to know who she is. Can I expect her to know who I am? The boy with her looks like he should be able to take care of her, but what if he comes for her? The boy won't be able to protect her from him. No one can."

    Red and Yellow continued on their way again, the samurai boy heading in the opposite direction. The Pikachu hopped from one branch to another in pursuit.

    "There's no telling what could happen. I should just follow from a distance. This is for the best."
    Jessie, James and Meowth walked into a dark room. Inside the room was a large empty chair and a Persian lying beside it. After a moment, a man and woman both walked in from the other side of the room. The man sat in the chair while the woman stood next to it.

    "What was so important that you needed to interrupt my morning work out?" The man grumbled out to the trio. "My Hitmonlee doesn't like it when our sparring matches are interrupted, and neither do I."

    "Wells, ya see, Mr. Giovanni, sir…" The words stumbled out from the incredibly nervous Meowth. "We's tried ta take a bunch a' Pikachu's dat's were in da Viridian City Pokémon Center, but before we could even gets to da Center, some guy shows up and wiped da floor wit' us."

    "And did this 'guy' have a name?"

    "He said his name was Carmine… something." It was James that spoke now.

    "Carmine Noir?" Giovanni's interested was perked by this revelation.

    "Yes, that was it." Jessie was surprised by her boss' reaction.

    "That is interesting news. I never thought he'd leave his comfortable life in that backwater town of his."

    "You's know's him?"

    "Of course I know Carmine. He could prove a hindrance to our plans. Mallory." He turned to the woman at his side. "Send word, we need to move up the timetable for Project Dark."

    "Yes, sir! But, our top scientists are already working as hard as they can."

    "Then they will have to work even harder. Carmine is active again, there are probably others that will try to get in our way and our spies report that the International Police are on their way right now. I want results by the end of the month."

    "What about us?" James asked their leader.

    "You three are to report in with our operatives in Mt. Moon. There are a number of important assets that need to be recovered."

    * * *​

    Ash and Carmine made their way through the Viridian Forest. Their trek through the woods was rather uneventful until they encountered a strange boy in samurai armor.

    "You! You are the last trainer from Pallet Town, are you not?"

    "Last? You mean the others have already made it past here?" Ash was dismayed by this revelation.

    "Yes! I, Samurai of the Viridian Forest have challenged each of the Pallet Town trainers as they passed by here and so far have lost to everyone! But not this time! I challenge you to a Pokémon Battle!"

    "The others all beat you. Then this should be easy. I accept your challenge. Pikachu! I choose you!"

    The yellow rodent hopped off of Ash's shoulder. It still didn't like its trainer, but at least it would listen to him now.

    "I made the mistake of not using my strongest Pokémon against the others! But I will not make that mistake again! Come out, Pinsir!"

    The large, brown beetle came out of its Pokéball. It gave Pikachu a menacing look and the battle began. Pinsir opened with a Vice Grip, catching Pikachu between the two large, spiked pincers on the top of its head. Pikachu tried to shock the Pinsir to weaken its grip so that it could get free, but it was no use. The shocks only made the Pinsir squeeze harder. Eventually, it became too much and Pikachu fainted.

    "No! Pikachu!" Ash ran to grab his Pokémon.

    "At last!" 'Samurai' jumped up in joy. "I have achieved victory!" He called back his Pinsir and walked off while Ash rushed over to his unconscious Pokémon.

    "You have a Potion, right Carmine?" When Ash didn't get an answer he looked around and couldn't find Carmine anywhere. "Carmine?"

    * * *​

    As a plane landed at the Viridian Airport, most of its passengers were looking forward to going home, going on vacation or visiting friends. They were all unaware of the dark dealings going on in the Kanto region, all but one man. The man would tell you his name, but that would be a violation of international law. He went by the code-name of Looker and he was a member of the International Police.

    Looker got off the plane with the other passengers and as he entered the airport terminal he pulled a large, manila envelope from the inside of his light brown trench coat. He pulled a photo out of the envelope and looked around for the man in the photo. He found the red-headed man dressed in black and wearing a hat and sunglasses, sitting on a bench at the other end of the terminal. Looker walked over and sat on the bench, next to him.

    "I want to be the very best, like no one ever was." The man did not turn to Looker as he spoke.

    "To catch them is your real test; to train them is your cause." Looker responded.

    "Are you Agent Looker?" The man turned to him now.

    "Ja, yes. You are my informant, are you not?"

    "You can call me 'Dragon'."

    "Well, Dragon, what news have you for me?"

    "Team Rocket is back. There have been sightings in almost every major city in the region."

    "That, I already know. It is the reason I have returned to this country."

    Dragon looked around. "We'll need to go somewhere more private before I can tell you any more than that. You never know when they might be listening."

    "I know of such a place."

    * * *​

    On the outskirts of Viridian City, there was an old run down building with a sign outside saying 'Beladonis Investigations'.

    "It is not much, but it is the International Police safe house." Looker told his informant as they went inside. "The other agents should be arriving here later this week and we can clean it back up. Now, what is it that you could not tell me at the airport?"

    "Rumor has it that it was Giovanni that resurrected Team Rocket, but we don't know why yet."

    "I should have known that it would be him."

    "I've heard you were part of the team that took down Team Rocket before."

    "That was one of my first assignments." Looker had an almost wistful tone to his voice as he recalled his past. "I was placed under the supervision of our team leader, Agent Beladonis. I told him that letting Giovanni go was a mistake, but he would not listen to the words of a rookie."

    "Why did they let him go?"

    "It was a part of the deal. He and the other members that went along with him were let free with all charges dropped in return for the names of all other members including their leader. We all thought that would be the end Team Rocket, but we were just being naïve. In our line of work, that can cost lives."

    * * *​

    After looking around for a while, Ash finally managed to find Carmine.

    "Where were you?" Ash asked him, furiously.

    "Sorry. I had some business to attend to, if you know what I mean. How'd your battle go?"

    "How do you think?" Ash held out his unconscious Pikachu.

    "That bad, huh? Well, it's nothing a Revive shouldn't be able to fix." He pulled a small, yellow gem out of his bag and placed it on Pikachu's head. The gem glowed brightly and dissolved while Pikachu slowly woke up.

    "It sounds like you might need to do some more training." Carmine paused for a moment. "Or any training for that matter. This was your first actual battle wasn't it?"

    "Yeah, so what?"

    "Kid, training is important. You won't get far if you don't train."

    "But the longer I wait, the further ahead the others get."

    "This isn't a race. You're all going to enter into the Pokémon League. When that happens it will be a matter of who worked the hardest, not who got there the fastest."

    "But can't I train later, after I'm ready to enter the Pokémon League, but before the tournament starts?"

    "You could. But you need Gym Badges if you want to get into the Pokémon League and they don't just hand those out. You need to be able to win, and not just against Gym Leaders. There will other trainers challenging you, or even that you challenge, and you're going to want to win. There are also dangerous people out there like Team Rocket that you will need to defend yourself and others from."

    "Team Rocket? But didn't the police stop them years ago?"

    "Never mind that right now. We're training, whether you want to or not."
    Gary walked into the Pewter City Gym. The inside of the building was lined with rocks and the Gym Leader stood at the opposite end of the main hall. He was a young man with dark brown hair and a seemingly permanent squint.

    "I challenge you to a Gym Battle!" Gary pointed his finger dramatically at the Gym Leader.

    "I accept your challenge." The Gym Leader spoke. "I'm Brock, the Pewter City Gym Leader. My rock-hard willpower is evident even in my Pokémon. That's right; I specialize in the Rock-type. This will be a one-on-one match, show me your best!"

    "Rock type, huh? This should be easy then."

    Gary sent out his Squirtle and Brock sent out a Geodude, and then the battle began. Gary opened by having Squirtle use Bubble while Brock's Geodude used Harden to strengthen its defense. Geodude then used Tackle on Squirtle which knocked him into a rock. Squirtle returned the favor with its own Tackle, which barely affected the Rock Pokémon. Geodude Tackled Squirtle again, slamming him into the ground.

    "Squirtle!" Gary yelled to his Pokémon. "It's time for your new move!"

    Squirtle nodded at his Trainer and faced the opposing Geodude. It shot a stream of water from its mouth with Water Gun. The Geodude was severely affected by the attack and collapsed to the ground.

    "Good job." Brock said as he walked over to Gary. "As proof of your victory against me, I give you the Boulder Badge." He handed the small rock-shaped badge to Gary.

    "Gary! Gary! He's our man! If he can't do it no one can!"

    Gary ignored his cheerleaders as he took the Boulder Badge and held it up to the light flowing in from the windows just below the ceiling.

    "One down, seven to go."

    * * *​

    Ash was sprawled out on the ground with his Pikachu on one side and his Spearow on the other. They had been training almost non-stop since Ash's battle with 'Samurai' and they had finally been given a break for a few minutes.

    "I never knew… that training… would be so… hard." Ash said between deep breaths.

    "What, did you think it would be easy?" Said Carmine, who was sitting on a nearby rock.

    "No... But I didn't... think it would be... so involved."

    "The best way to bond with your Pokémon is to experience part of what they go through. By being more directly involved in their fights when training, you can get a better idea of their abilities and they learn to respect you more."

    "Is that true?" Ash asked his Pokémon.

    "Pika."

    "Spear."

    Both Pokémon seemed to nod back.

    "It’s also good to focus on their individual strengths. So far, it looks like your Pikachu is good all around, while your Spearow has a focus on physical strength. Keep that in mind."

    * * *​

    Daisy decided to visit the Pewter City Museum before heading off to the Gym. She was admiring the fossilized remains of several ancient Pokémon when a strange man in a white coat and glasses approached her.

    "Excuse me, miss. You wouldn't happen to be a Pokémon Trainer, would you?"

    "I am." Daisy wasn't sure what to make of the man.

    "Great. Could I ask a favor of you?"

    "Maybe…"

    "I have recently found a sample of Old Amber that seems to contain trace amounts of DNA from an ancient Pokémon. We don't have the equipment to analyze it properly here, so I was wondering if you could take it to a colleague of mine at Cinnabar Laboratories on Cinnabar Island. I'd do it myself but I'm too busy here at the museum. I tried mailing it, but the postal service apparently doesn't allow the transportation of this sort of thing for some reason."

    "I'll probably be heading there eventually. I guess I can take it."

    "Oh, great! Thank you so much." He handed her a small box. "This is the box I tried mailing it in. The Amber is still inside. My associate's name is Doctor Crichton. It's written on the address label in case you forget. Oh, and my name's Seymour, by the way." He then nodded and walked away, back to his work.

    "What did I just get myself into?" Daisy muttered to herself, looking at the box in her hand and putting it in her bag.

    * * *​

    After resting for a while, Ash was about to resume his training with Carmine when they both heard some rustling in the nearby bushes. They both looked over to it just in time to see 'Samurai' walk out of them.

    "What are you still doing here?" Ash and 'Samurai' both asked each other at the same time.

    "I am wandering the forest looking for more trainers to challenge!" 'Samurai' answered.

    "Then how about a rematch?"

    "I fail to see the point in fighting someone I already know I can beat!"

    "I've been training hard since then. I can win this time."

    "Fine then! With that kind of arrogance you deserve to be beaten again!"

    "Oh, we'll see who's being arrogant."

    'Samurai' sent out his Pinsir again, while Ash sent out his Spearow this time. Pinsir opened with Vice Grip like last time, but Spearow was able to dodge the attack easily by flying upwards. It then looped around Pinsir and hit it from behind with Peck.

    Pinsir tried to catch Spearow with Vice Grip again, but again Spearow dodged and Pecked him from behind again. At this point 'Samurai' decided that it was time to change tactics and ordered his Pinsir to use Focus Energy, drawing in power for its next attack. As soon as Spearow came in range to try and Peck again, Pinsir grabbed Spearow with its arms and used Seismic Toss, throwing Spearow into the ground.

    Spearow was barely able to get back up. It managed to dodge another Vice Grip and fly back around Pinsir again. This time instead of Peck it used Fury Attack, hitting the Pinsir multiple times in quick succession. Pinsir was knocked down by the attack and did not get back up again.

    "Yes! I won!" Ash jumped for joy at his victory, before using a Potion on Spearow.

    "Fine, then! I admit defeat! It would appear that I was the arrogant one after all!" 'Samurai took off his helmet and held it in front of himself. "Perhaps dressing up as a samurai was not my key to victory after all." He was no longer shouting everything he said. "Know this, trainer from Pallet Town: the next time we meet I shall defeat you again."

    "I never introduced myself, did I?" Ash realized. "My name is Ash Ketchum, and I will become a Pokémon Master." He held out his hand and 'Samurai' shook it.

    "I am Rick Abner, Bug-type master in training."

    As Rick walked off, Ash noticed that Spearow was beginning to glow. Before his eyes, the small bird grew until it was slightly larger than him.

    "What just happened?" Ash asked aloud in amazement.

    "That? That was evolution. You did go to school, right?" Carmine answered him.

    "Yeah, of course." Ash tried to pretend he already realized that. "I've just never seen it in person."

    "I'm actually kind of impressed. Fearow are normally just less than four feet tall, but this one looks more around five feet. I looked a bit bigger than the other Spearow in its flock, but not nearly this impressive."

    * * *​

    Red and Yellow asked around Pewter City to see if anyone knew who Yellow was, but no one recognized her. So, Red was now going to challenge the Gym. He entered the building with Yellow following him so she could watch his battle.

    "Are you the Gym Leader?" Red asked the man standing at the end of the rocky battle hall.

    "That's right; I'm Brock, the Pewter City Gym Leader. I specialize in the Rock-type."

    Red looked down at the Pokéball in his hand. Charmander was a Fire-type, and Fire was weak to Rock. He decided to risk the type weakness.

    "I challenge you to a Gym Battle!"

    "Challenge accepted. This will be a one-on-one match." Brock sent out a Geodude and Red sent out his Charmander.

    Charmander took one look at Geodude and turned back to Red with a worried expression.

    "I have a plan, Charmander." Red assured his Pokémon. "Start off with Growl."

    The Charmander opened his mouth wide and let out a high pitched Growl that intimidated the Geodude so that it would not hit as hard. Geodude used Defense Curl to make itself more resistant to damage. Charmander tried hitting it with his Scratch, but the attack did almost nothing.

    Geodude rammed into Charmander with a Tackle and knocked him back a few inches. Charmander let out another Growl before the Geodude Tackled him again, but was still knocked to the ground. Charmander got back up but was hit by another Tackle.

    Red checked his Pokédex, desperate to find anything Charmander could do against the Rock Pokémon. Looking through Charmander's attacks, he spotted one he didn't expect.

    "Charmander!" He shouted. "Use Metal Claw!"

    Charmander stood back up again and closed its eyes in concentration. Geodude was about to attack but stopped when it noticed that Charmander's right paw was beginning to glow a bright silver color. Charmander opened its eyes and charged at the stunned Geodude, a fierce determination in its eyes. Charmander pulled its arm up and struck its opponent with an uppercut of metal. Before Geodude had time to react, Charmander struck again, this time striking downward to knock Geodude into the ground.

    Geodude let out a faint "Dude…" as it tried to get back up again, but failed.

    "Geodude is unable to battle." Brock said. "The match is yours."

    Brock walked over to Red and handed him a Badge.

    "That was a very impressive fight. Normally a Charmander wouldn't stand a chance against my Geodude, but you proved your Pokémon's power, as well as your own strength as a trainer. You've definitely earned this Boulder Badge."

    "Thanks." Red took the Boulder Badge from him and pinned it to the inside of his jacket. "I suppose I should probably catch some more Pokémon though. I can't rely on that kind of luck to get me through every battle."

    "That would be a good thing to do. You're probably headed off to Cerulean, next and their Gym has a Water-type specialty. You may have lucked out this time with Metal Claw, but I doubt that Charmander of yours can learn any Grass or Electric-type moves."
    Daisy walked up to the entrance of the Pewter City Gym. This was it, her first Gym Battle. She opened the large double doors and walked into the Gym. She approached the man standing at the opposite end of the main room, who she assumed was the Gym Leader.

    "I challenge you to a Gym Battle!"

    "I accept your challenge, Daisy Oak of Pallet Town."

    "How do you my name?" Daisy asked with great surprise.

    "As a Gym Leader, I have access to the records of all officially licensed Pokémon Trainers in the Indigo League. I go through those records regularly to see who I'm going to be up against soon and which of my teams to have ready."

    "What do you mean by 'which teams'?"

    "The role of a Gym Leader is to challenge Pokémon Trainers and make sure that they are ready for the Pokémon League. Trainers of all skill levels can challenge any of us they choose, so we each have multiple teams set up to use based off of how many Gym Badges you've already earned."

    "Oh, yeah, I guess that makes sense. Now are we going to battle now or what?"

    "Of course. I am Brock the Viridian City Gym Leader and Rock-type specialist. Since you don't have any badges yet this will be a one-on-one battle."

    After Brock finished talking, he sent out his Geodude. Daisy called out her Bulbasaur and the battle commenced.

    "Open with Leech Seed!" Daisy shouted to her Bulbasaur. The green Pokémon shot out a seed from the bulb on its back that hit the Geodude while it used Defense Curl. Small vines grew out from the seed when it hit, which slowly drained Geodude's energy and transferred it to Bulbasaur. Geodude tried to pull the vines out but was unable to get a hold of them, so it Tackled Bulbasaur was able to brace itself for the hit and countered with a Vine Whip attack. The vines hit Geodude hard and it backed off wearily. Geodude tried to flank Bulbasaur and attack it from behind but to no use. The vines growing out from Bulbasaur's back where able to hit Geodude from any direction. After several hits, Brock's Pokémon was knocked unconscious. The Leech Seed fell off as it hit the ground.

    "Good job." Brock said as he walked over to Daisy. "Nice use of Leech Seed to wear the opponent down quickly. Here's your Boulder Badge. You've earned it."

    Brock held out the small, gray Badge to Daisy, who took it gratefully and pinned it to her bag's arm strap.

    * * *​

    Ash took a big breath and stretched as he took his first steps out of Viridian Forest. It felt like so long ago since he left home, even though it was only a few days ago. Carmine walked behind him, squinting at the sudden increase of light from no longer having the treetops blocking the sun out. The two made their way to Pewter City, were Ash healed his Pokémon at the Pokémon Center and then immediately went straight to the Gym.

    He challenged Brock with his Pikachu and quickly learned how much of a mistake that was. Pikachu was quickly beaten by the Geodude without being able to harm it in the slightest. After the loss and another trip to the Pokémon Center, Carmine took the aspiring trainer to the edge of town.

    "You have an extreme disadvantage." Carmine said to Ash. "Geodude has high defense, resists Normal and Flying-type moves and is outright immune to Electric attacks. Fortunately for you, I have a solution."

    "What's that?"

    "Sneasel!"

    The small black Pokémon sped out of Carmine's Pokéball and chopped a large rock in half with a single blow.

    "Brick Break is a powerful Fighting-type move. If your Pikachu can learn it, taking down Brock should be a piece of cake."

    And so, Carmine got to work trying to teach Pikachu how to use Brick Break. He had Pikachu chop a rock like his Sneasel had done, to no avail. After trying to break the rock for nearly an hour, Pikachu began letting out Thundershocks in frustration. One bolt of electricity shot past Ash and Carmine and they heard a yell behind them.

    "My bike!" The red-headed girl looked furious as she held up the fried remains of a bicycle. "You're paying for this!"

    "What?"

    "That's your Pikachu that destroyed my bike, isn't it? Your Pokémon means your responsibility. You owe me a new bike!"

    "But I can't-" Ash started to say.

    "You can and you will!" Misty cut him off. "This is non-negotiable."

    While Ash and Misty continued arguing about the destroyed bicycle, Carmine stared off into space. Then he spoke.

    "Wait a minute!" Ash and Misty both stopped to look at him. "I have an idea!"

    "About my bike?"

    "What? No, not about that."

    * * *​

    As Red and Yellow left Pewter City and headed out to Route 3, they passed by an old man in a red knit cap selling souvenir rocks by the side of the road.

    "Ooh, can we get one?" Yellow grabbed on to Red's arm and looked up to him with her eyes wide.

    "They're just rocks." He said back to her, bluntly.

    "They're not just any rocks!" The salesman argued. "These are the finest rocks that the Kanto region was to offer, no, that the world has to offer."

    "They're still just rocks."

    "But have you ever seen a rock that looks like this!" The salesman held out a perfectly normal looking rock.

    "Wow!" Yellow gazed in awe upon the utterly plain looking stone.

    "That looks just like any other rock."

    "It does?" Yellow asked in confusion.

    "Of course it does. Do you not know what rocks look like?"

    "How should I know?"

    Red and Yellow both looked at each other in an awkward silence for a moment.

    "I'm sorry. That was rude of me."

    "What do you mean?" The salesman asked. "How would you not know if you've seen a rock before?"

    "I don't remember anything." Yellow answered. "The doctor said I have amnosia."

    "Amnesia." Red corrected her. "We're trying to find anyone who knows who she is."

    "That sounds serious." The salesman's voice changed from a man trying to sell useless junk to a man that was thinking of important matters. "So you don't even remember your family? Your parents?"

    "Nope, not at all."

    Yellow didn't seem as shaken up about it as she probably should, but she was only a child. The true significance of her current condition was lost on her. It was not lost on the salesman, however, who sat quietly in deep thought for a moment before handing the rock he was holding to Yellow.

    "Take it. It's on the house. Take anything here you want. After all, as your friend here said, they're just rocks." The man stood up. "I… I have something that I need to do."

    He almost seemed to be crying as he began walking back to Pewter City.

    "What do you think that was about?" Yellow asked Red.

    "I don't know, but it seemed important."

    "Well, I hope whatever he needs to do works out."

    "Me too."

    * * *​

    "Back so soon?" Brock wasn't expecting the young trainer to be ready for a rematch less than a day after his defeat. He then turned to the girl beside him. "And Misty? What are you doing here?"

    "The idiot owes me a new bike." Misty mumbled while trying to disinterestedly look away.

    "I know I can beat you this time!" Ash yelled, turning Brock's attention back to him.

    "Okay, I guess. Let's see what you've got this time."

    Brock sent out his Geodude again and Ash's Pikachu leapt off of his shoulder onto the battlefield.

    "Pikachu again? Are you sure you know what you're doing?"

    "Definitely!"

    "Alright." Brock shrugged. "Then let the battle begin."

    Geodude opened with Defense Curl, as usual, while Pikachu ran up to it at top speed.

    "Here we go, Pikachu! Brick Break!"

    Pikachu jumped up and swung its tail down, pulling the full force of his strength and momentum into a single blow to Geodude's head. In one blow the rock Pokémon was defeated.

    "Well… that was unexpected." Brock was nearly at a loss for words as he pulled out a Boulder Badge to give to Ash. "Sometimes I wish I could be a trainer like you, being able to better myself and my Pokémon. Not just being a challenge for other trainers to overcome." He hadn't meant to complain about his life like that, but the words slipped his mouth.

    "Then maybe you should." Everyone turned around to see the old man that had just walked into the Gym. "Maybe it's time you get to be your own man."

    "Who are you?" Brock asked the strange old man.

    The man replied by taking off the cap he was wearing that obscured the top half of his face.

    "Has it really been so long that you don't recognize me?"

    "Dad?"
    Looker sat at his desk reading case reports on the information his team had gathered so far. It wasn’t much. As he looked through the reports, two people walked into the room, Dragon and a blonde girl that appeared to be somewhere in her mid-to-late teens. Looker peered up at them and put the reports down.

    “I believe that I know where they are going to strike next.”

    “And where would that be?” Asked Dragon, who pulled up a chair and sat down across from Looker.

    “Recent geological surveys of Mount Moon have shown a large number of rare fossils, minerals and other highly valuable resources that have until now remained completely unnoticed. I believe that they will try to obtain these resources for themselves.”

    “What makes you think that?”

    “When I met Giovanni briefly during our investigation of the first Team Rocket, I noticed that he does not seem to hold any value in gold. Despite it being the foundation of our global economy, he seems to feel that it will no longer hold any value in the future. As such, it is my belief that he will want to maintain Team Rocket’s finances through other assets.”

    “Then what do you want us to do?” Asked the girl, who was still standing in the doorway.

    “I’m glad you asked that, Agent 009. The three of us are going to go to Mount Moon and confront any Team Rocket operatives in the area.”

    * * *​

    Ash, Misty, Brock and Brock’s father sat around the dining room table in Brock’s house. Brock’s father, Flint, explained to his son the reason for his absence. Two years ago, after Brock had passed the Gym Leader exam so that he could fill in for Flint when he was gone, Flint decided to take a short break to challenge the Pokémon League himself. He lost in the preliminary rounds and became so ashamed of his defeat that he couldn’t bear to show himself to his family again. And so, he opened up his souvenir rock stand and had been running that ever since.

    “So what made you finally decide to come back?” Brock asked his father.

    “Earlier today I met a girl with no memory of her past. She couldn’t even remember her own family. It made me realize what I must be putting you and your brothers and sisters through. Everyone deserves a father that is there for them, but I’ve been denying that right to all of you for my own selfish ego.”

    Ash wasn’t quite sure why they were here for conversation. It seemed a little too personal to have guests over for. Brock seemed to know Misty, at least, but that didn’t explain why Brock invited Ash and Carmine. For that matter, where was Carmine?

    “So tell me, Brock, are you willing to give me a second chance to be your father?”

    Brock took a moment to answer him.

    “I think I can. But I’m not the only one you need to ask.”

    “I know. But, where are your brothers and sisters?”

    “They're all at school right now.” Brock looked up at the clock. “Although it’s about time to pick them up. You can reintroduce yourself to them there.”

    * * *​

    The trio of Jessie, James and Meowth arrived at Mount Moon and were greeted by two other Team Rocket Agents, who were both wearing customized uniforms, a sign of high ranking agents.

    “You must be J Squad. We heard you would be meeting up with us.” One of the agents said; a large, heavily tanned man with spiky blonde hair. His uniform was light grey and lacked sleeves. He was also wearing sunglasses even though they were in a cave.

    “Which one of you is the squad leader?” He looked back and forth between Jessie and James as he asked.

    “I’m da top cat here!” Meowth said.

    “That is interesting.” The other man spoke. He had light grey hair and his uniform was the same shade of grey as the first ones, but with short sleeves and a dark blue shirt underneath. “We’ve heard rumors of a squad led by a talking Pokémon, but we never thought they were true.”

    “I’m Attila. My partner over here is Hun.” Said the blonde man.

    “So what are we doin’ here anyways.” Meowth asked Attila.

    “Legend has it that a meteor crashed into this mountain hundreds of years ago and that it has special evolution-inducing properties. Your assignment is to find and retrieve that meteor at any cost.”

    “If you run into trouble then call it in. We’ll be nearby searching for rare fossils.” Hun added.

    “Agent Masque is also stationed here.” Spoke Attila. “Ah, here she comes now.”

    Agent Masque walked over to the other Team Rocket members. She wasn’t particularly tall, with a slender frame and reddish-brown hair parted on the right. The left half of her face was covered by half of an opera mask. Jessie, James and Meowth all had the feeling there was something distinctly wrong about her.

    “What are you all waiting for?” Her voice was almost a monotone. “Get to work.”

    * * *​

    Daisy walked slowly along one of the tunnels running through Mount Moon. Going alone through a dark tunnel was definitely not her best idea. She was cold, and only had a flashlight to light her way. After a while, she was finally able to get used to it.

    She turned a corner and caught a glimpse of pink for a second before whatever it was moved out of view. She tried to catch up to it, but a sudden earthquake rocked the tunnel and the ground gave out underneath her. She slid down a rocky slope at least twenty feet, letting out a scream of pain as hit the ground.

    “Not to self: Never explore a cave without pants.”

    Her legs were covered with scratches from the fall. She tried to stand up but her left leg gave out under her and she screamed again.

    “Not good.” She climbed up and sat on a rock. “Although I guess I should try looking on the bright side, at least all those books I read about the medicinal uses of Grass-type Pokémon are about to come in handy.”

    Daisy was trying not to give into despair in her current situation, but it was hard. She pulled out one of her Pokéballs and called out Bulbasaur from it.

    “Okay, Bulbasaur, I need you to listen very closely and do exactly what I tell you. I need you to use Sleep Powder on the cuts in my legs. It’s going to sting like crazy at first, so I might scream, but don’t stop. The powder will stop the injuries from getting infected and after a few seconds will numb the pain. After that, I’ll need you to form a cast around my left leg with your vines. They’ll need to be tight, but if their too tight they could cut off the circulation.”

    Bulbasaur followed her instructions and treated her injuries. After the make-shift cast was formed, Daisy tried to stand up again, Bulbasaur used its vines to help keep her upright. They began walking around to see if they could find the way out but found something else instead.

    “Clefairy?” The small, pink Pokémon looked up curiously at Daisy and then down to her leg. It reached out and touched her leg with its fingertip. “Clefairy.” A pulse of white light radiated from its finger and spread around Daisy’s leg. Daisy could feel the healing energy of Healing Pulse fixing her leg.

    “Thank you.”

    “Clefairy.”

    With a sense of urgency, the Clefairy gestured for Daisy to follow it. Daisy recalled Bulbasaur into its Pokéball and walked after it. The Clefairy took her to a large opening in the cave where what looked like a giant meteor was resting. A large hole had been blown out of the cave ceiling up above. A blue-haired man, a red-haired woman and a Meowth were trying to dislodge the meteor.

    Clefairy launched an attack at the three, drawing their attention.

    “Who are you?” The man asked.

    “It doesn’t matter,” said the woman, “She’s not stopping us.”

    The Team Rocket trio went through their motto and called out their Ekans and Koffing. Daisy fought them off using her Bulbasaur and Butterfree, with the assistance of Clefairy.

    “It looks like we’ll need to make a strategic retreat.” Jessie said when their Pokémon were defeated.

    “But shouldn’t we call in the others?” Asked James.

    “And let them knows we gots beaten by a twerp like this? No way.” Meowth argued. “We’ll just say we never found it.”

    The three ran off, leaving the meteor behind. A group of Clefairy entered the cave from the other side and, seeing that Team Rocket was gone, began to dance in a circle around the meteor. The Clefairy that lead Daisy here gestured for her to join them. She tried to mimic the Clefairys’ movements as best as she could. After their dance was done all of the Clefairy began to glow and they evolved. The one that had brought Daisy here walked off and came back carrying an egg, which it handed to Daisy.

    “Are you giving this to me?”

    “Clefable.” The Pokémon nodded.

    After Daisy took the egg from the Clefable, it lifted its fingers up, which began to glow. Daisy felt herself being lifted up off of the ground and out through the hole in the ceiling. She was let down gently on the soft grass outside the tunnels.

    “I don’t know what just happened.” Daisy said to herself. “But I do know that I’m never going back into a cave again as long as it can be avoided.”

    * * *​

    Inside the Pokémon Center just outside the Pewter side entrance to the tunnels through Mount Moon, Red was getting his Pokémon healed. After the nurse handed them back to him he turned around to see Yellow carrying a large orange fish Pokémon, almost the size of her.

    “What-” He started to ask.

    “I bought a fish!” She said, as enthusiastic as ever. “The man over there sold to me for 500 Pokédollars.”

    “Where did you get 500 Pokédollars?”

    “The rock salesman said I could take whatever I wanted from his stand, and it didn’t look like he was going to come back for it.”

    Red put his hand up to his forehead.

    “In the future, don’t take someone’s money unless they directly give it to you. And what are you going to do with that Magikarp, anyway? You’re not a trainer, so you can’t technically have your own Pokémon.”

    “I can’t?” Yellow thought for a moment. “Well, then how about you catch it and I can hold on to it until I can have my own Pokémon.”

    “I suppose that could work. You really need to think these things through better, though.”

    Red pulled out an empty Pokéball from his bag and bumped it against the Magikarp. A red light poured out from it and sucked the Pokémon inside. The Pokéball shook a bit in Red’s hand and then the button on the front glowed red for a second and faded out. With the Magikarp successfully caught, he handed the Pokéball to Yellow.

    “Wow! That was so cool! You need to teach me how to do that!” She looked to the Pokéball in her hands. “I’m going to call you Maggie. Maggie the Magikarp.”
    After the tearful reunion between Flint and his children, it was decided that Flint would resume his old position as the Pewter City Gym Leader while Brock would be allowed to go on his own Pokémon Journey. Or rather, to go on Ash’s journey.

    Brock wasn’t really interested in fighting Gyms or entering the Pokémon League. He just wanted to explore and meet new Pokémon. As such, he decided that going with Ash’s group would fit better for him than going out on his own. Ash would have objected, but at this point, he figured that people were just going to join up with him no matter what he said and just accepted it.

    And so, Ash, Carmine, Misty and Brock set out on their way to Cerulean City, where Ash’s next gym battle awaited.

    * * *​

    Red and Yellow made their way through the tunnels of Mount Moon until they began to get tired. Red checked his watch and saw that it was getting late, so he decided they should make camp for the night.

    “In a cave?” Yellow questioned this decision.

    “Why not? It’s not like we can do anything else right now.” Red pulled out a sleeping bag from his backpack.

    “Wait… How did you have that thing in your backpack?”

    “What do you mean?”

    “It’s clearly too big to have fit in your bag.”

    “Oh yeah, right. It uses a similar technology as Pokéballs, using matter-to-energy transference to store objects in containers smaller than themselves.”

    “What kind of energy?”

    “I don’t know, it’s just energy.”

    “There’s no such thing as ‘just energy’.”

    “You don’t know what rocks look like, but you know about energy?” Red looked at the girl like he didn’t know what to make of her, which he didn’t.

    “I don’t know why I know that either.” Yellow shrugged.

    “Well, hopefully, it’s a sign that you’re getting your memory back. I’ve heard the term ‘Pokénergy’ used for the Pokéball energy stuff, but I pretty sure that’s just slang I don’t know the proper term for it.” He finally put the sleeping bag in the ground and laid it out. “I’ve only got the one sleeping bag, so I’ll let you use it.”

    * * *​

    Ash’s group was able to reach the foot of Mount Moon without any trouble along the way.

    “Do we have to go through those tunnels?” Misty wined.

    “The tunnels are the best way to get past the mountain,” explained Brock, “and we can go up against the wild Pokémon along the way.”

    “Or we could just walk along the road.” Carmine pointed out. “It’s faster, easier and we don’t have to wander around in the dark. I don’t really care much, either way. I’m just supposed to make sure that the kid here doesn’t get into trouble.”

    “Don’t call me a kid!” Ash yelled angrily.

    “I’m almost three times as old as you and I’ve known your parents since long before you were born. You’ll always be a kid to me. Now, which way are we going?”

    Ash looked up at the sky and saw that it was getting dark out. “I guess we’ll stay at that Pokémon Center over there and decide in the morning.”

    “Way to be non-committal. You remind me so much of your dad that it’s not even funny.”

    * * *​

    Red lay awake on the cold cave ground. He couldn’t quite fall asleep. In his mind, he was going over all that had happened since he began his journey. He was eventually pulled from his thoughts by the feeling of something crawling over his leg.

    Red pulled out his flashlight and saw an orange insect Pokémon with mushrooms sprouting out its back crawling over his legs.

    “Well.” Red whispered to himself. “Not going to pass this opportunity up.”

    He pulled an empty Pokéball out of his backpack and tossed it lightly at the Pokémon, which was sucked into it. The ball rattled around a bit and the button flashed red. Red pulled out his Pokédex to check what he caught.

    “Let’s see… it’s a Paras, male, Grass and Bug-type, with the Dry Skin ability. That’s lucky. He should be really good against the Cerulean Gym. Wait a minute, wasn’t that Misty’s Gym?” He reached around in his pockets until he pulled out her card. “Yes, it is. That should be interesting. Wait a minute… I got so caught up in things that I forgot to call her and let her know about Yellow. I guess I know what I’ll be doing when we reach the city.”

    * * *​

    The girls traveling with Gary, or his ‘cheerleaders’ as he had taken to calling them in his head, had insisted that they drive past Mount Moon rather than exploring it. Gary was disappointed that he didn’t get to see what kinds of Pokémon were there that he could add to his team, but at least there was one good thing to come from it. They managed to reach Cerulean long before Gary was expecting.

    He walked into Cerulean City’s Gym with his cheerleaders following him. The interior was very different than Pewter’s had been. The main hall consisted primarily of a large swimming pool as the battlefield, with a spot on each side for the trainers to command their Pokémon from. To each side of the room was a large set of bleachers.

    “I used to train here,” said Sue, “for swimming, that is. I’m not really into Pokémon.”

    “So do you know the Gym Leader then?” Gary asked her, mildly intrigued.

    “Yes. Well, three of them anyway.”

    “Three of them? There’s more than one?”

    “Cerulean has four Gym Leaders, known as the Sensational Sisters. They rotate through their duties and you only need to battle one to earn the badge. I never really got to know the youngest of them, but I’m good friends with the other three.”

    “That is interesting.”

    Before their conversation could continue, a blue-haired girl poked her head out from the water in the pool.

    “Hey, Sue! Is that you?” She asked. “It’s been too long. How have you been?”

    “Hi, Violet! I’ve been good. Right now I’m helping this kid enter the Pokémon League.”

    Violet turned her attention to Gary.

    “So, do you want a Cascade Badge then?” She held out a water drop shaped badge. “Here you go.”

    “What? You can’t just give that to me. I need to fight you for it.”

    “Oh, fine, if you want to be that way.” Violet made no attempt to hide her disappointment as she pushed off the side of the pool and swam a back-stroke to the other side. She flipped up out of the pool with expert skill.

    “How many badges do you have already?” She shouted back to Gary.

    “One, about to be two.”

    “Well, at least this will be over fast.” She mumbled to herself as she pulled out a Pokéball from seemingly nowhere “Then this will be a one-on-one battle!”

    “Where did that Pokéball come from?”

    “That is the most closely guarded secret of swimmers everywhere.” Sue answered Gary’s question, though it wasn’t really an answer.

    Violet tossed the Pokéball over the pool and a Seel came out from it. Gary sent out his Squirtle in response. Both Pokémon dove into the water and swam around waiting for their orders.

    “Seel!” Violet called out. “Use Headbutt!”

    The sea lion Pokémon swam over and rammed into Squirtle headfirst. Squirtle was knocked back into the side of the pool, but was able to push itself off and use it to add more momentum into its own Tackle attack.

    This was Gary’s first underwater battle, but he felt like he was getting the hang of it. He ordered Squirtle to follow up with another Tackle. Violet had Seel retaliate with its Icy Wind attack, freezing the surface of the water and making it harder for Squirtle to maneuver while Seel was still right at home in the icy water. Squirtle tried to catch up to Seel for another Tackle, but Seel was able to outmaneuver Squirtle and went in for another Headbutt. That proved to be a mistake, however, and as soon as the move hit, Squirtle was able to Tackle the Seel into a patch of ice. Seel was knocked out by the impact, meaning that Gary had won the battle.

    Violet walked around the pool and handed Gary the badge she tried to give him earlier.

    “Here you go, the Cascade Badge.” She then turned to the girls. “Nice cheer.”

    “Thank you,” responded Mal, “it’s nice to know someone likes it.” She glared at Gary.
     
    #2 Jun 16, 2017
    Last edited: Jun 28, 2018
    Wings, Deedee the Ranger and Mandriel like this.
  3. BZRich64

    BZRich64 The Mustachioed Machamp

    Pulgasari
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    “So, which way are we going?” Carmine looked down at Ash.

    Ash looked back and forth between the entrance to Mount Moon’s tunnel system and the road leading around the mountain while looking contemplative.

    “I think…” The others stared at him, waiting for his answer. “We’ll go through the tunnels.”

    “No…” Misty moaned.

    “You don’t have to go with us.” Brock pointed out to her.

    “And let this kid ditch me before he pays me back for my bike? No way.”

    “Why does everyone keep calling me a kid?” Ash asked. “I’m almost eleven and I have a Pokémon Trainer’s License. I am an adult.”

    “Not really.” Carmine argued. “You may have a lot of the privileges of being an adult, but you’re still the youngest here and you still tend to act like a child.”

    “I do not.”

    “Says the boy who’s basically having a tantrum.”

    “Whatever.” Ash said indignantly as he turned and started walking for the tunnel. “I’m going. Anyone who’s coming with me should just follow quietly.”
    * * *​
    After Seymour had asked Daisy to deliver to deliver the Old Amber to Cinnabar Labs, he had been assigned to find some new fossils at Mount Moon for the Pewter Museum of Science’s ancient Pokémon exhibit. He managed to excavate a large number of fossils from various prehistoric Pokémon that were native to the area millions of years ago and was just getting ready to leave.

    “Where do you think you’re going?” Seymour turned around to see two men in grey Team Rocket uniforms.

    “I’m heading back to the Pewter Museum. Why do want to know? Who are you, anyway?”

    “My name is Hun, and my friend here is Attila.” Hun spoke rather nonchalantly.

    “You weren’t planning one taking those fossils with you, were you?” Asked Attila.

    “Yes, of course I was.”

    “We’ll I’m afraid that’s too bad.” Hun almost seemed sorry for Seymour, but it was clearly insincere.

    “We’ll be taking those off your hands for you.” Attila on the other hand, made no such attempt at hiding his pleasure from taunting Seymour.
    * * *​
    Ash felt surprisingly at ease in the tunnels of Mount Moon, and made his way through them without any trouble at first. After some time, a small Pokémon dug out from the side of the tunnel, right in front of Ash.

    “That’s a Sandshrew. They’re pretty common in the area.” Brock pointed out.

    “I’m going to catch it.” Ash turned his hat around on his head and stretched out his arm. “Pikachu! Brick Break!”

    Pikachu ran along Ash’s outstretched arm, jumped, and swatted the Sandshrew with its tail. Before the Sandshrew had time to react and attack back, Ash threw a Pokéball at it and the Pokémon was caught. Ash picked up the Pokéball as Pikachu leapt back onto his shoulder and held his new Pokémon out to show the others.

    “Say hello to the newest member of my team.”

    “Hello.” Carmine said, sarcastically.
    * * *​
    Red and Yellow continued wandering though the tunnels, when they came across Attila and Hun threatening Seymour. Attila had sent out his Skarmory, which was holding the bladed tip of one of its wings up to Seymour’s throat.

    As if by instinct, Red sent out his Charmander and ordered it to fire an Ember at the Skarmory. The small fireball knocked Skarmory’s wing away from Seymour and turned the attention of the two Team Rocket Agents to Red.

    “Who dares?” Attila seemed furious at the interruption. “You’re going down, kid!” His Skarmory slowly walked out between Attila and Red, then assumed a battle-ready stance.
    * * *​
    Masque set down her radio and stood up from her seat. She had just gotten word that the International Police were in the area. She packed up the secret base they had set up in the tunnels and was about to contact the others when Ash’s group wandered in.

    “Hi.” Misty said. “Can you tell us which way to go to get to Cerulean? We’re kind of lost.”

    “We are not lost! I just took a wrong turn.” Ash turned to Masque, and then a puzzled look came over him. Like he was seeing something the others couldn’t.

    “That ‘R’ on your uniform,” Carmine said bluntly, “you’re with Team Rocket.”

    Ash, Misty and Brock were all taken aback by Carmine’s comment, but Masque just seemed to smirk under her half-mask.

    “You took a worse turn than you thought.” Masque grabbed a strange black Pokéball from around her belt and called out a Vileplume. “Petal Dance.”

    Vileplume launched a whirlwind of spotted red petals from its head that almost hit Ash’s group, but were deflected at the last moment by a white beam of energy that came from the cavern’s entrance. Looker, Dragon and 009 came storming into the area with a Dragonite and Croagunk. Vileplume launched another wave of petals, this time around Masque and itself. When the attack cleared, the two were gone.

    “What in the Distortion World just happened?” Misty asked, completely dumbfounded.

    “Wait a minute.” Carmine said. “I know you; you’re with the International Police.100kr, wasn’t it?”

    “I am known as ‘Looker’ now, but yes. I too remember meeting you before. I’m afraid we all have much to discuss.”
    * * *​
    Red and Attila were just about to start their battle when a voice came over Hun’s radio.

    “This is Agent Masque reporting in to all Team Rocket Agents in the Mount Moon area. Our mission has been blown. I repeat, our mission has been blown. Evacuate the area immediately. I repeat, evacuate the area immediately.”

    Attila and Hun both glanced at each other and nodded.

    “You got lucky this time, punk.” Attila turned back to Red as he recalled his Skarmory. “But we will meet again, and I will destroy you.”

    The two Team Rocket Agents ran off leaving Red and Yellow with Seymour.

    “Thank you so much. I thought for sure they were going to kill me.” Seymour bowed to Red and Yellow in thanks. “I don’t know how I can ever repay you for this. Here, take a couple of fossils, it’s the least I can do.”

    Red and Yellow took the fossils that Seymour handed to them and the two waved goodbye to him as he headed back to Pewter.

    “That was so cool!” Yellow said, as she grabbed on to Red’s arm. “Those bad guys were going to hurt him and you were just like ‘not today, villains’ like a superhero or something!”

    “I didn’t say anything like that.”

    “Okay maybe not, but still, that was so cool.”

    “We’re lucky we even managed to get out of that okay. I doubt I would have been able to beat that guy. Even if I could have stood up to him, there was no way I could have beaten both of them.”

    “I didn’t even think of that.” Yellow lost her smile for a moment, but then it was back. “We sure are lucky then.”

    “Let’s just get out of here.”
    * * *​
    Daisy made her way slowly down the side of Mount Moon, making sure that the egg she was carrying stayed safe. Her walk down the grassy mountain slope was otherwise rather uneventful. Eventually she reached the base of the mountain and found the road leading in to Cerulean City.

    “I should have just followed the road to begin with. Although I guess I wouldn’t have gotten this egg if I did.” Daisy held the egg up in front of her. “They say just seeing a Clefairy is supposed to bring good luck. I wonder what it means when one gives you an egg. I mean, I guess it was just thanks for getting rid of those people trying to take that meteor, but it seems weird to give away your unborn child. Then again, they might not think of it that way. I don’t even know that this is a Clefairy egg.”

    Before Daisy could ponder it further, she reached the Pokémon Center along the outskirts of the city and went inside.

    “Welcome to the Cerulean City Pokémon Center. Would you like us to heal your Pokémon.”

    Daisy put her Pokémon’s Pokéballs in the tray on the counter in front of the nurse. The nurse put the tray inside the healing machine and turned to Daisy.

    “Would you like something to help you carry that egg? We have special portable incubators; if you want one, then it would help you carry that egg around.” She said, then took the tray back from the machine and handed it to Daisy.

    “Yes, that would be nice.” Daisy placed the Pokéballs back in her bag as she spoke.

    The nurse left and came back with a class case with an incubator and placed in on the counter. Daisy carefully placed the egg inside of it and put the incubator in her bag.

    “Thank you.” Daisy said as she turned to leave. She walked out of the Pokémon Center feeling ready on take on anything. “Cerulean Gym, here I come.”
    “As I said at Mount Moon, I am known as Looker. I am an agent in the service of the International Police. Team Rocket has recently been reactivated after five years of dormancy and we are working on figuring out why that is and find a way to take them down again.”

    Looker, Dragon, 009, Ash, Carmine, Misty and Brock were all sitting around a table back at the Adonis Detective Agency. The building and its interior had been fixed up thanks to the efforts of the International Police officers that had been stationed under Looker.

    “I don’t actually work for the International Police.” Dragon said. “I’m technically just an informant, but I decided to help out more directly. My codename is Dragon.”

    “Codename?” Misty asked. “But everyone already knows who you are, your Lance.”

    “Yeah, I’m not really sure why I bothered with the codename. I’m a well known public figure throughout the region and I’m a Dragon Master, so ‘Dragon’ was kind of a dead giveaway.” Lance took off his hat and his bright red hair spiked up dramatically.

    “So, what do you know about the revived Team Rocket?” Carmine tried to get the conversation back on subject.

    “For the clarity of those who do not know the whole story, I shall start at the beginning.” Looker said. “Team Rocket was one of the largest criminal organizations in the world until five years ago when one of their agents decided to give them in. I believe you all know him; he is sitting in this very room. Mr. Carmine Noir.”

    Ash, Misty and Brock nearly fell out of their chairs in surprise at this revelation.

    “You were with Team Rocket?” Ash asked him, baffled. “Wait, does Mom know about that?”

    “I would assume so. Your parents were the ones who convinced me to leave them.”

    Looker cleared his throat to direct everyone’s attention back to him.

    “As I was saying; Mr. Noir directed us to the son of Team Rocket’s leader, Giovanni Rozzo, and my superior at the time, Agent Adonis, made a deal with him. In exchange for the names of everyone in Team Rocket, Giovanni and anyone who followed him in being a part of the deal would have all charges dropped against them. We all thought that would be the end of Team Rocket until a few months ago. It would appear that Giovanni has revived the Team for some reason. Our mission is to find out what reason that is and put a stop to them. If you have any information, any at all, it would be appreciated.”

    “I stopped a squad from trying to steal a bunch of Pikachu that were in the Viridian Pokémon Center from the storm a few days ago. They had a talking Meowth with them.”

    “A talking Meowth…” Looker stroked his chin as he took in that information. “That is interesting.”

    “Wait, what?” Ash looked at Carmine, confused. “When did that happen?”

    “That night we stayed at the Pokémon Center here. You were asleep at the time.”

    “That lady in the mask at Mount Moon.” Brock said. “The Pokéballs around her belt were strange. They were black and had a design I’ve never seen before.”

    “That’s right!” Ash added. “And there was something off about her and her Pokémon. They both seemed like they were covered in a dark cloud or something.

    The others all looked at him, confused.

    “What do you mean?” Carmine asked.

    “I didn’t notice anything like that.” Misty commented.

    “Covered in a darkness that most people can’t see. I feel like I’ve heard that description somewhere before…” Looker’s eyes widened and he banged his fist into the table. “I’ve got it. I think I know what it was. We’ll need to bring in more help for this, and I think I know just who.”
    * * *​
    Daisy walked into the Cerulean Gym and waited for a while. The Gym was completely empty. After she waited around the pool for a while she finally got up and was about to leave, but then a blonde woman walked in.

    “Oh, I’m sorry. Have you been waiting long?” She asked.

    “Yes, quite a while, actually.”

    “I’m so sorry. I had some stuff I needed to do and I didn’t think anyone would come in today.”

    “Can we have a Gym Battle now, then?”

    “Of course. I’ll go get ready.” The blonde woman walked over to the other side of the Gym.

    “I only have one Badge right now!” Daisy called out to her.

    “Got it.” The woman grabbed a Pokéball from some kind of console and stood at the other end of the pool from Daisy. “And you don’t need to yell. We have really good acoustics in here. It helps with our water shows.”

    “Water shows?”

    “Yeah, we have live performances in here. I was actually working on preparations on tonight’s show right now.”

    “That sounds nice.”

    “If you beat me, I can give you a free ticket with your Badge.”

    “You’re on!”

    “This will be a one-on-one match with standard Pokémon League rules. I’m Daisy, by the way, one of the Sensational Sisters and Gym Leader of Cerulean City.”

    Daisy had to hold back a laugh. “What a coincidence, my name’s Daisy, too.”
    * * *​
    Red and Yellow finally made their way out of Mount Moon. They stopped to enjoy the feel of the sunshine and fresh air for a while, and then sat down on a patch of soft grass.

    “Being in that cave was fun, but I’m glad to be outside again.” Yellow said.

    “I know what you mean.” Red grabbed the two Pokéballs on his belt and called out Charmander and Paras to enjoy the outside as well.

    “When’d you get that crab-thing with the mushrooms?”

    “I caught him while you were sleeping. He was crawling over my legs.”

    Yellow shivered. “That must have been creepy.”

    “A bit creepy, yeah. But I’m glad I have him.” Red pet his Paras in the head, between the two mushrooms growing out of its back.

    Yellow lay on her back and looked up at the sky. “I’m glad that I get be out here with you. I feel like I didn’t really get to be outside much before, and that I didn’t like being inside so much.”
    * * *​
    Daisy Oak sent out her Bulbasaur to battle against the Gym Leader Daisy’s Horsea. Bulbasaur had to stand outside the pool because it couldn’t swim, which gave Horsea a large terrain advantage, countering Bulbasaur’s type advantage.

    Horsea opened up with a Bubble attack, launching a steam of bubbles at Bulbasaur. Bulbasaur shrugged off the attack and countered by sending out a wave of Sleep Powder over the pool which, Horsea had to swim under the water to avoid. Bulbasaur took this opening to send out its vines into the water and hitting Horsea with a Vine Whip while it was distracted by the Sleep Powder. Horsea then swam up the surface again and let out a Smokescreen.

    Not being able to see Horsea through the smoke, Bulbasaur sent out another blast of Sleep Powder over the pool as well as Poison Powder, making it so that Horsea could no longer safely surface through the water.

    “I’m so glad we have someone to clean this stuff out of the water for us.” The Gym Leader said. “Battles like this would be a nightmare if we didn’t.”

    Horsea didn’t notice the powder because of the smoke and tried to hit Bulbasaur with another Bubble, but inhaled some of the Sleep Powder when it poked its head above the water and instantly fell asleep. Bulbasaur used Vine Whip again and won the battle.

    Daisy the Gym Leader walked back to Daisy Oak and handed her a Gym Badge.

    “Here you go; one Cascade Badge. You earned it.” She then reached into her pocket and pulled out a small piece of paper. “And, as promised, a ticket to tonight’s water show.”
    * * *​
    A gust of hot desert air blew in through an open window in a small jailhouse. One of the prisoners lay relaxed on his bed, while the other four seemed uneasy about his presence. One of the two men in the cell next to him finally stood up and walked up to the bars dividing their cells.

    “What are you in here for?” He asked the man. “Aren’t you supposed to be a hero or something?”

    The man let out a small chuckle as he sat up on his bed. “I don’t think anyone’s ever called me a hero before. Theft, arson, kidnapping; I’ve done plenty to earn a place in here.”

    “But you’re the one who got us in here, man. And you’re supposed to have saved the entire world or something, right?”

    “I wouldn’t go that far. I may have done a lot of good recently, but I’m no hero.”

    “No one cares!” Yelled one of the women in the third jail cell. “Just shut up already!”

    They all went back to just sitting in silence for a while. That silence was broken however, when the chief of police entered the jailhouse. He walked up to the cell that the lone man was in and pulled out his keys to unlock it.

    “You have a visitor.” He said.
    Looker sat at one end of a small table. 009 leaned against the wall behind him. Across from the detective sat a gray-haired young man with heavily tanned skin and strikingly golden eyes.

    “Weston Jaeger.” Looker addressed the man.

    “Most people call me Wes.”

    “It sounds like you’ve done a lot of bad things in your life.”

    “What’s it to you?” Wes asked, a little more defensive than he meant.

    “You’ve also done a lot of good. I have heard that you were responsible for the defeat of Team Cipher before the International Police even knew what was going on.”

    “So what? I was just in the right place at the right time.”

    “I have also heard that you have experience fighting their ‘Shadow Pokémon’.”

    Wes let a grin slide smoothly across his face that did not extend past his mouth. “That’s right. I captured every Shadow Pokémon they made and purified each and every one to their original state.”

    “Good. We have need of your experience.”

    Wes’ grin faded and he went on the defensive again. “And what would you need that for? There are no more Shadow Pokémon left. I made sure of that, personally.”

    “That may be, but it would seem that Team Cipher were not the only ones who knew how to make them.”

    “That’s impossible.” Wes sat upright, his attention fully caught up in the conversation now.

    “Apparently not. There has been at least one sighting of a Shadow Pokémon in the Kanto region under the ownership of Team Rocket. We do not know if they managed to find the process of making them on their own or if Team Cipher had some involvement with Team Rocket, but somehow they have Shadow Pokémon. And it is doubtful that they only have one.”

    Wes paused for a moment, looking deep in thought, then spoke. “I’ll help you. But I can’t sense Shadow Pokémon on my own. I had a partner when fighting Team Cipher. You’ll need her, too.”

    Looker smiled as he stood up. “We are already aware. She was the one who suggested we get you. Gather your things and we’ll go.”

    “Now, wait just a moment.” Interrupted the police chief, Chief Sherles. “As much as I’d like to see Wes go free because of all the good he’s done for this town, he’s still a convicted criminal. We can’t just let criminals free whenever it suits us, he has to do his time in here.”

    “That is a hindrance.” Looker nodded. “Or rather, it would be. I have been fully authorized to formally drop all charges against Wes for his past wrongdoings if he cooperates.”

    “I guess that’s that then.” Said Wes as he stood up. “Sounds like a win-win to me.”
    * * *​
    Red and Yellow walked into the Cerulean Gym and were greeted by one of its Gym Leaders.

    “Welcome to the Cerulean Gym. I’m Lily.” Said the pink haired girl, who held out a small teardrop shaped badge. “Take this complementary Cascade Badge.”

    “Complementary?” Red asked. “I thought I needed to fight you for it.”

    Lily’s shoulders drooped and she put the badge back into the pocket of her dress. “Why does no one ever just take the badge?” She moaned to herself as she turned and walked back to the other side of the pool.

    “Weird…” Said Yellow.

    “I’m guessing you only have, like, maybe two badges?” Lily asked Red.

    “Just one.” Was his response.

    “Alright.” Lily seemed rather bored. “One-on-one then. Show me your best, or whatever.”

    Lily tossed a Pokéball out over the pool and a Goldeen came out of it and dove into the water. Red called out his Paras, which stood along the edge of the pool.

    “I didn’t take the possibility of having a pool as an arena.” Red muttered to himself. “All of the strategies I planned on the way here relied on having equal footing with the opponent.

    “I’m sure you’ll figure out something.” Yellow reassured him.

    Paras stared blankly at the pool while Goldeen swam around, waiting to see what it would do. After a while, Lily grew impatient and ordered her Pokémon to use Peck. The fish Pokémon leapt out of the water and descended so that its horn would hit Paras.

    “Paras!” Red finally came up with a plan. “Hit it with Scratch and knock it away from the pool!”

    The bug Pokémon swung one of its large front legs as the Goldeen was about to reach it and knocked the Goldeen away. The fish Pokémon was only able to flop around uselessly on land, making it an easy target for Paras to hit repeatedly until Goldeen fainted.

    “Oh, joy.” Lily said sarcastically as she walked back to Red. “Just take the stupid badge already.” She pulled the badge out of her pocket. A couple small slips of paper slipped out with it. “I forgot I had these. You might as well take them; they’re tickets for tonight’s water show.”

    “Water show?” Yellow asked. “I don’t know what that is, but it sounds great.”
    * * *​
    On the road between Cerulean City and Saffron City, Gary and his cheerleaders had just found their way blocked by a large fallen tree. They got out of their car to examine the tree.

    “I could clear the way with me Pokémon.” Kat suggested to Gary, who took a moment to answer.

    “Nah, I say we turn back. We passed a turn off to Celadon City earlier. I think we should go back that way.”

    “Well, I’m going to clear the path anyway, for people coming by this way later. I’ll meet back up with you at the Pokémon Center.” Kat said as the others got back in the car.

    Mal made a U-turn and drove off with the others. Kat turned back to the tree and pulled out a couple of Pokéballs from around her belt.

    “Alright! Go, Charizard and Nidoqueen. Let’s get this tree off the road, shall we?”

    The two large Pokémon each grabbed hold of the large, fallen tree and lifted it up off to the side of the road.

    “Well, that was fast. You know, I don’t think we’ve had a proper fight since the Pokémon League last year. We should fix that some time.” Kat’s Pokémon both nodded in agreement. “I feel like Gary’s going too quickly with his journey. I think I was only just getting to Pewter at this point on my journey. I hadn’t even caught you yet, Nidoqueen.” She rubbed her hand against the blue Pokémon’s head. “I suppose we should probably be going now.”
    * * *​
    “You are probably wondering why I have called you all to this meeting.” Giovanni said to the room full of Team Rocket Agents. “This is the first time we have gathered all of our high ranking members at once since our organization’s revival. The reason is simple. We have enemies. The International Police have sent a team to take us down and even the local trainers are starting to fight against us. And they’re doing a bit too well against us for my tastes. That is why I have decided to put all of you through an intense training regimen. To start with, I have hired one of the world’s foremost Pokémon Hunters to work for us.”

    Giovanni gestured to an open doorway on one side of the room. A gray-haired woman walked in and sat at one of the two empty chairs around the crowded table.


    “This is Hunter J. After this meeting you will all report in to her and she will make sure you are all equipped with full teams. After that, you are to report to the head of Project Dark, the Iron-Masked Marauder, who will augment your Pokémon into Dark Pokémon, giving you an edge over any who would dare oppose us.” Giovanni now gestured to the doorway on the other side of the room where a large man wearing an iron mask walked in and sat in the other empty chair.

    “Once you are finished with that, each squadron will report to one of our Executives. They will train you to become better fighters. Mallory will inform you of which executive you should report under. Are there any questions?” Giovanni looked around the room. No one raised any questions, so he moved on. “That will be all. This meeting is now adjourned.”
    “Too bad we couldn’t have gotten a lift back to Cerulean.” Misty said.

    “Yeah.” Brock agreed. “Looker and 009 teleported away with an Alazakam and Lance flew off to who-knows-where without even asking if we wanted a lift.”

    “You know,” Carmine pointed out, “we don’t have to go straight back to Cerulean. We could take Diglett’s Cave to Vermilion instead.” Carmine looked down to Ash and then interrupted right when Ash was about to speak. “Let me guess, you’re going to wait until morning to make a decision.”

    “I was not!” Ash said indignantly. “We’ll go to Vermillion. Although I do want to stay here for the night, it’s starting to get dark.”

    “Do we have to go to a cave?” Misty sighed. “I don’t want to be underground again. Besides, I need to get home soon.”

    “Actually, if we go through Diglett’s Cave to Vermillion, then take the Underground Path to Cerulean, it should take about the same amount of time as going through Pewter and Mt. Moon.” Brock pointed out.

    “Fine.”

    “Are you going to make us sleep in the Pokémon Center again, or can we actually stay in the Pallet House this time?” Carmine asked Ash.

    “Well… this is just kind of an unexpected detour, rather than a real part of my journey, so I guess we can go to the Pallet House this once.”

    “The Pallet House?” Misty asked. “You struck me as more of the kind to stay at cheap motels or something.”

    Ash and Carmine both glared at Misty.

    “You do know who you’re talking to, right?” Carmine asked.

    Misty looked at them a bit confused.

    “My mom owns the whole chain. It’s the family business.” Ash explained.

    Misty’s jaw dropped and Brock looked rather surprised as well.

    “I thought I’d heard the name ‘Ketchum’ before.” Brock said. “I guess that was it. I’m not really into business stuff, though. Actually, I feel like it was somewhere else. I think it was on the news or something.”

    “That does sound familiar, actually.” Misty added.

    “You’re probably thinking of when Graham disappeared.” Carmine said. Both he and Ash looked down at the ground mournfully.

    “I miss Dad.” Ash said.

    “What happened?” Misty asked, genuinely concerned.

    “We don’t know for sure.” Explained Carmine. “He went missing around four years ago. There were some strange reportings near the Cerulean Cave. Graham went to check them out, but never returned. No one’s seen or heard from him since then.”

    “I think I remember that. They said there were sightings of a strange, powerful Pokémon in the area.” Said Misty. “It apparently left after a while, though.”

    “Can we please talk about something else?” Ash looked about ready to cry from the memories of his missing father.

    “Sure kid.” Carmine tried to comfort him, a bit awkwardly. “Let’s go check in at the Pallet House. It’s been a long day.
    * * *​
    Red and Yellow found their seats for the Water Show. They were in the front row of the bleachers on the western side of the Gym. As they sat down, Red heard a familiar voice call out to him.

    “Hey, Red! Red, is that you?” Daisy walked up to where they were sitting. “How have you been?”

    Red stood up to greet his old friend.

    “Hey, Daisy. What were the odds of meeting up here? How have you been?”

    “I’ve been having a little trouble traveling on my own, but I have managed to get two badges already. How about you?”

    “I have two badges, too. If you’re having trouble alone, you’re welcome to come with us.”

    “Us?” Daisy was caught off-guard by that.

    Yellow got up and shook Daisy’s hand.

    “Hello! My name’s Yellow! Probably, maybe, who really knows?”

    “It’s a long story.” Red said in response to the confused look on Daisy’s face.

    Before they could continue their conversation, the lights dimmed, marking that the show was about to begin, so they sat back down in silence. The show was called “The Mermaid and the Pirate” an odd mix-up of Romeo and Juliet with The Little Mermaid. Lily played Romeo as a member of a band of pirates that wanted more from life, while Violet played Juliet as a young mermaid who wants to explore the human world and Daisy cycled through the other major characters while their Pokémon served as the extras. Despite this odd premise, they were able to put on quite a show that left the audience in awe.
    * * *​
    Jessie, James and Meowth stood in a room with the other squads that had been assigned under Executive Administrator Archer. The other squads were Attila and Hun, Thunder Squad, who the trio had worked with at Mt. Moon; Thief Squad, a pair of sisters named Annie and Oakley; and Outlaw Squad, Butch and Cassidy, who have been J Squad’s rivals ever since they joined Team Rocket.

    “Well look what the cat dragged in…” Cassidy said when she saw the trio. “I thought you three would have been kicked out by now, but I guess they’ll just let anyone here.”

    “Oh, yeah?” Jessie responded. “I guess they do if you two are here.”

    The two women walked up to each other and looked like they were about to attack each other, but were stopped by a pair of hands resting on their shoulders.

    “Enough.” Attila said. “As much as I like a good fight, we’re all working together. And we can’t work together if we’re at each other’s throats.”

    “Well put,” came the cool voice of the man who just walked into the room, “you appear to be smarter than you look. Good”

    Executive Archer was one of the highest ranking members of Team Rocket, second only to Giovanni himself, and he looked the part. Archer was a suave man, impeccably dressed with short, teal hair and he had an heir about him that allowed him to take charge of any situation he was in without any fuss. Even Attila, who would normally object to a backhanded compliment like the one Archer just gave, stood speechless in the man’s presence.

    “I’m going to assume you all at least know each other’s names, you all know who I am of course, and I really don’t care who you are. So, we’re going to skip the introductions and pleasantries and go straight to why we’re here. You may be some of the best Team Rocket has to offer in your respective skillsets, whatever they may be, but those are not the only skills that will be necessary as we reach our goals and our enemies try to stop us. Thus, it is my job to make sure that you have the power to stop anyone who dares get in our way. Now, let’s get down to business, shall we?”
    * * *​
    The Iron-Masked Marauder sat in a chair, fiddling with the latest prototype for his Dark Ball. He was so caught up in his work that he almost didn’t notice someone walk in to his lab.

    “I thought I recognized you.” Said Hunter J. “You used to work for Team Cipher didn’t you?”

    The Marauder didn’t bother looking up. “So did you. So what?”

    “This Project Dark I keep hearing about; it’s the Shadow Pokémon project isn’t it. And those special Pokéballs, they’re modified from Team Snagem’s snag machines.”

    “You’re close.” He admitted. “I left Team Cipher shortly before they were defeated and rounded up by the IP. I ended up here and Giovanni offered me a position here in Team Rocket. We have resources here that Cipher never even imagined. Project Dark is a modified version of the Shadow Pokémon Project, but they’re not quite the same.”

    The Iron-Masked Marauder stood up and smiled at Hunter J, gesturing for her to follow him further into the lab. She did so and he led her to a strange, glowing orange crystal with wires coming out of it, connected to the various machines and computers in the room.

    “This is the Dark Synergy Crystal.” Marauder explained. “We found it in the far-off Ferrum region. I t has properties similar to Shadow Pokémon, and allows us to make even better versions of them. This new kind of Shadow Pokémon, or Dark Pokémon as we call them here, Are just as powerful as the old ones, but they remain much more under control. We don’t have to worry about them attacking their own trainers anymore. In addition, this method seems to be more potent. We even have a successful human prototype.”

    “That would by the girl with the mask.” Hunter J’s comment was more a statement than a question.

    “Yes. How did you figure that out so quickly?”

    “This thing’s more than just for show.” Hunter J pointed to the visor she was wearing. “It allows me to see aura. I stole it from a lab back in Orre that’s working on fighting another potential Shadow Pokémon outbreak. I also managed to get this Snag Machine from them.” She motioned to the silver gauntlet on her left arm.

    “I was wondering about that.”

    “It looks like Team Cipher’s legacy has served us both well, huh John?”

    “I’m the Iron-Masked Marauder now.”

    “That’s kind of a mouthful. I’m just going to keep calling you John.”

    “Only if I can call you Jael.”
    A lone Charmander held his tail under his chin in the vain hope that would shield its flame from the rain. Three days had passed since his trainer had left Charmander on that rock. Three long days of waiting for his trainer to return.

    “Damian will come back for me.” Charmander thought to himself. “He said he would, and I believe in him.”

    And so, Charmander continued to wait for his missing trainer as the rain finally began to slow to a stop. Charmander continued dwelling in his thought when he realized something.

    “What if something happened to Damian? What if the reason he hasn’t come back is that he can’t?”

    Charmander looked down the path the way Damian had gone.

    “That must be it! Damian is hurt and alone! I need to rescue him!”

    Charmander breathed a small, pathetic flame onto its tail to keep it from going out and slid down the rock Damian had placed him on. Three days of no food and in a constant near-death state had left Charmander weak and he was barely able to walk down the path, put his heart and soul into making it. He needed to save his trainer and nothing would stop him, or so he thought.

    As Charmander continued stumbling forward, his feet gave out under him and he tumbled down a slope along the side of the path.
    * * *​
    The next morning after Daisy met up with Red and Yellow, Daisy went on her way south to Vermillion City. She had decided not to take Red up on his offer of traveling with them. She was going to give traveling alone another chance; hopefully she wouldn’t have to deal with anything like what happened at Mt. Moon again.

    As she made her way along the road, she eventually stumbled upon a group of young boys only a few years younger than her. Three of the boys appeared to be beating up the fourth, so Daisy ran up to stop them. The moment the boys noticed Daisy coming up to them they high-tailed it away and towards a large building in the distance.

    “What was that about?” Daisy asked as she helped the remaining boy get back onto his feet.

    “Nothing.” He said quietly. “They’re just bullies.”

    “What is that building over there, anyway?”

    The boy looked up at Daisy with a look of confusion. “That’s Pokémon Tech, duh. How do you not know that?”

    “Why would I know that?” Daisy countered.

    The boy just walked back to the school without paying any more attention to Daisy.

    “Well that was rude.” Daisy muttered to herself. “Well, might as well check it out.”
    * * *​
    Red and Yellow made their way north from Cerulean. This led them to Route 24, best known as the home of Nugget Bridge. They walked onto the famous bridge and were immediately confronted by a trainer.

    “Stop! People call this place the Nugget Bridge. If you can beat all five trainers here, you can win a fabulous prize! Do you have what it takes?”

    Red looked down at Yellow and then back up to the trainer.

    “I might as well give it a try. Bring it on.”

    Red and the trainer each pulled out a Pokéball and sent out a Pokémon. Red sent out his Charmander while the trainer sent out a Kukuna. Charmander used Ember and the Kakuna fainted almost instantly.

    “Well, that was unexpected.” Said the trainer. “Maybe you have what it takes after all. You may proceed.”

    Red continued along the bridge with Yellow following him, but was stopped again only a few steps later.

    “I’m the second trainer! Now it’s serious!” The trainer said as she sent out a Pidgey.

    Red's Charmander once again beat the opposing Pokémon in only a single move. The process repeated until Red defeated the fifth trainer. Red and Yellow finally reached the other side of the bridge when a man walked up to them.

    “Congratulations! You’ve beaten all five of our elite trainers! You’ve just earned a fabulous prize.”

    “It wasn’t exactly difficult.” Red said as he took the prize, a golden nugget, from the man. “You should probably get some stronger trainers for this.”

    “By the way,” the man continued, “how would you like to join Team Rocket?”

    “What?” Red asked. Both he and Yellow just stared at the man.

    “We’re a group of professional criminals specializing in Pokémon. Want to join?”

    “We know what Team Rocket is. We’ve dealt with your people back at Mt. Moon.”

    “I’m telling you to join.”

    “No!”

    “Alright, I see you’re going to need convincing!” The man pulled out a Pokéball and called out his Ekans.

    The snake Pokémon leapt towards Charmander and used Bite on Red’s Pokémon, followed by Wrap. Charmander responded by using Metal Claw to force the Ekans off of him. Charmander then shot out an Ember while the Ekans countered by spitting a Poison Sting. The two moves collided in mid-air and Charmander took the opportunity to charge and slam Ekans into the ground with another Metal Claw, causing the Ekans to faint.

    Charmander began to glow white and grew into his evolved form: Charmeleon.

    “Alright then.” The Team Rocket recruiter said as he recalled his fainted Pokémon. “Smoke escape!” He flung a small smoke bomb onto the ground. When the smoke cleared he was gone.

    “That was a neat trick.” Yellow said. “And your Pokémon evolved!”

    “I can’t say I’m entirely sure what just happened.” Red commented. “But so far this is shaping up to be a good day.”
    * * *​
    Gary walked into the Celadon City Gym. The Gym was arranged as a garden maze, which Gary had to navigate his way around to reach the Gym Leader.

    “I challenge you to a battle!” He shouted when he finally reached her.

    The Gym Leader was a young woman with black hair and wearing a traditionally designed kimono. She was taking a nap on a large cushion designed to look like a Vileplume’s flower. She woke up from Gary’s shouting and stood up slowly while rubbing her eyes.

    “Huh, what was that?” She said in-between large yawns.

    “I said, I challenge you to a battle!” Gary repeated himself, rather annoyed.

    “Right, of course. Sorry about that, I sat down for a moment and I guess I must have fallen asleep.”

    “Two.” Gary said proudly.

    “Only two?” She reached under her cushion and pulled out a Pokéball. “I guess this will only be one on one then. I’m Erika, Gym Leader of Celadon City and Grass-type specialist.” She tossed the Pokéball and a Tangela came out from it.

    Gary sent out his own, recently evolved, Pidgeotto. Pidgeotto opened with a Gust attack, knocking Tangela back. Tangela then used Ingrain, sending some of its vines into the ground where it absorbed nutrients from the soil, healing itself. Pidgeotto flapped its wings hard to create a Whirlwind that sent Tangela flying up into the air so that it couldn’t heal itself more, then rammed into it with a couple Quick Attacks. Tangela fainted by the time it crashed back down to the ground.

    “Very good.” Erika said, clapping lightly. “In honor of your victory, I bestow unto you this Rainbow Badge.” She held out the badge to Gary who grabbed it from her eagerly.
    * * *​
    Charmander awoke feeling much better than he had in days. It felt like he had his strength fully restored. He opened his eyes to see that he has lying on a grass mat in some kind of cottage. His tail flame was resting on a flat stone so that it wouldn’t catch anything on fire and was burning brighter than he had ever seen it.

    “It’s good to see that you’re awake.” Said a woman sitting in a chair on the far end of the cottage. “My name’s Melanie and this is the Hidden Village. I take care of injured Pokémon here.”

    Charmander nodded to the woman as a sign of thanks. The woman smiled and pointed to a Pokémon sitting next to her.

    “This Bulbasaur here is the one who found you and brought you here. If you should be thanking anyone, it should be him.”

    “Thank you.” Charmander said to the Bulbasaur. Pokémon may not be able to communicate directly with humans, but most species could understand each other’s languages.

    “It was nothing.” The Bulbasaur responded. “I was just doing my job.”
    The area just outside the eastern entrance to Diglett’s Cave was very calm. The wind blowing gently through the grass and trees was the only movement to be seen as all the wild Pokémon were either away hunting or taking an afternoon nap. This peace was disturbed by a sudden mound of dirt growing by the cave’s entrance.

    A Sandshrew pulled its head out through the dirt mound as it finally reached the surface. As it crawled onto the ground, it gestured back down the tunnel it dug out of. The surrounding earth began to shake as the mighty figure of an Onix burst forth from the ground. Behind the Onix, four humans climbed up from the newly formed tunnel.

    “We’re never going into another cave ever again!” Misty shouted at Ash.

    “How was I supposed to know the cave would collapse like that?” Ash asked defensively.

    “No one could have predicted there would be a pocket of magma so close to a widely used tunnel like that.” Brock pointed out.

    “Let’s just agree never to talk about what happened down there ever again.” Said Carmine. “I really don’t want to have to relive any of that.”

    “Which way is it to Vermillion?” Ash asked.

    Brock looked at his watch, then up at the sky. “It should be that way.” He said as he pointed west.

    “Then let’s go before anything else happens.”
    * * *​
    Daisy walked up to the front gate of Pokémon Tech and found that it was locked.

    “I guess I came here for nothing. Ah well, this was still on the way to Saffron, so it wasn’t a complete loss.”

    She turned to walk away when the gate suddenly opened. A girl walked out to her.

    “Who are you and what are you doing here?” She asked.

    “My name’s Daisy. I came here to see what this place was.”

    “Well then, welcome to Pokémon Tech, the most prestigious school in all of Kanto.” A smug smile crept across the girl’s face. “Or at least that’s what it’s supposed to be anyway.”

    “What?” Daisy asked hesitantly.

    They say that graduating from here can put you straight into the Pokémon League without needing to earn any badges, but that’s just a load of Tauros! Not only is that not true, but Pokémon Tech graduates have a statistically lower number of Pokémon League entrances than any other school in the region. That’s why I’ve just appealed to get my Pokémon License early.” She held out her license for Daisy to see. “You’re a trainer, right?’

    “Yeah…”

    “Then I, Giselle, challenge you to my first battle as an official Pokémon Trainer!”
    * * *​
    Wes walked into an empty room in the Adonis Detective Agency were a girl his age was meditating in the corner.

    “Well, look who we have here. They’ll just let anyone in here won’t they?” He said.

    The girl opened her eyes and, seeing who it was, stood up and walked over to him.

    “And what are you doing here?” She asked in a disdainful tone of voice.

    “I’m supposed to help save the world again, or something. I’ve heard you’re the reason I’m here.” Wes responded .

    The two leered at each other for a moment before breaking into laughter.

    “It’s good to see you again, Rui.” Wes said. “What’s new with you?”

    “After we split up, I went back to stay with my grandparents. Then I went to train my powers. I’m a full-fledged Aura Apprentice now!”

    “I’m just going to pretend I know what that means.”

    “I also have my own Pokémon now, so I don’t need you to protect me anymore.”

    “I don’t recall needing to protect you before.” Wes said as Rui pulled out a couple of Pokéballs from around her belt. She called out her Pokémon, a small yellow rodent and a bipedal blue dog

    “Meet Pichu and Riolu. My grandpa gave me Pichu and I received Riolu as part of my training.”

    “Well, you’ve certainly done a lot more this past year than I have. All I did was become the official strongest trainer in Orre, catch the guardian of the region and get put in jail because I felt like it.”

    “What?” Rui asked, puzzled.

    “After you left, I challenged Mount Battle and won, becoming officially recognized as the strongest trainer in Orre. Then, not too long ago, I let myself get captured and put in jail for all the various crimes I committed over the course of my life before we met. Just because I felt like it.”

    “What about the guardian?”

    “I’ll save that for later. I want to keep you in suspense.”

    “Jerk.”
    * * *​
    Daisy’s Bulbasaur and Giselle’s Cubone stared each other down in preparation for orders from their trainers. Bulbasaur held its vines out in a defensive position while Cubone stood confidently, resting its hands over the top of its Bone Club. After a moment of tension, both girls shouted orders to their Pokémon, who both reacted instantly.

    Bulbasaur launched a Leech Seed from its bulb which Cubone knocked away in midair as it charged straight for the Seed Pokémon. Cubone’s Bone Club fell hard over Bulbasaur’s head, but Bulbasaur was able to counter with another Leech Seed, this time hitting Cubone strait in the neck. Small vines sprouted around the Ground-type Pokémon, slowing its reflexes and draining its health.

    Cubone quickly turned around and slapped Bulbasaur with a Tail Whip, lowering its speed. Bulbasaur then grabbed Cubone by its arms with his vines. Cubone tried to wrestle free from the grass-type’s grip, but was unable to get loose before Bulbasaur sprayed Sleep Powder into Cubone’s face.

    Cubone slowly nodded off as Bulbasaur released his grip to attack with Vine Whip repeatedly. At this point it was clear who won the battle.

    “That wasn’t the outcome I predicted.” Giselle said as she called her Cubone back to its Pokéball. “Still, you’ve earned my respect. One day we will fight again. When that day comes you won’t be so lucky.”

    “I wouldn’t be so sure about that.” Daisy said with a smile.

    Giselle returned her smile with a glare and gave her parting words as she began to walk off. “I will become the next Pokémon Champion, just you wait.”
    * * *​
    “Yellow?” Cried out a panic stricken Red. The girl had wandered off while Red wasn’t paying attention. “Yellow! Where are you?”

    “I’m over here!”

    Red ran over to where her voice had come from and found her standing behind a tree.

    “What happened? Why did you run off like that?”

    “Well,” the amnesiac girl began, “I was trying to juggle a Pokéball that fell out of your pack this morning, when I may have accidentally tossed it away. I went after it to get it back.”

    “Why didn’t you say something?”

    “I didn’t want to bother you. I thought I’d find it quickly and catch up to you without you noticing I was even gone. But then…” She trailed off.

    “Then what?”

    Yellow held up the yellow Pokémon she was clutching between her arms, which Red hadn’t even noticed.

    “I caught something!”

    “That’s an Abra.” Red said, more to himself than to Yellow. “How did you catch an Abra? Those things are almost impossible to catch.”

    “Abra, huh? Then say hello to Abraham the Abra!”

    “You’re just constantly full of surprises, kid. I can’t tell if that’s good or bad yet.”
    * * *​
    “It sounds more like he abandoned you.” Bulbasaur said after Charmander explained his current situation.

    “What? No! Damian didn’t abandon me. I know he didn’t. He’s hurt and alone and I need to find him and rescue him!”

    “Fine.” Bulbasaur made a motion that resembled a shrug. “But it’s dangerous to go alone. I’m coming with you if you insist on this foolish notion.”

    Charmander was caught off-guard by this offer. “Are you sure? It looks like you’re needed here.”

    “Melanie does all of the real work. I just watched over the weaker Pokémon here to make sure they stayed safe. But I’ve trained them. They can stand up to any threat that comes this way and pass on my training to the next generation. My job here is done, it was getting time for me to leave, anyway.”

    “Wow.” Charmander didn’t know what else to say.

    “I’ll miss this place.” Bulbasaur continued. “But I will return one day.”
    “Here we are at last.” Brock said to his traveling companions as the city skyline came into view. “Vermillion City; the Port of Exquisite Sunsets.”

    “Finally!” Misty lifted her arms high into the air. “Civilization!”

    The group continued walking towards the city, Ash training a bit behind, taking his time. Shortly after they entered the city limits, Ash was pulled aside by a strange old man in a suit, standing at about three and a half feet tall and with a pure white beard and mustache that covered most of his face.

    “Young man.” Said the man as he pulled Ash down by the arm so that met at his eye level. “What a fine Pikachu you have there.”

    “Thanks, I guess.” Said Ash, hesitantly, not sure what else to say.

    “Yes, this Pikachu is simply remarkable. You’re in!”

    “In what?”

    “Why, the Pokémon Fan Club, of course.”
    * * *​
    The Celadon Game Corner was a place filled with sights, sounds and smells. The golden floors reflected light back up on the hordes of gamblers pulling slot machines. It only took one quick look around the place for Gary to decide that coming here was a mistake. Unfortunately for him, his cheerleaders stormed in behind him and pushed him further into the Game Corner.

    Gary wandered around the establishment for a while trying to recompose himself. When Gary finally regained his composure, he found himself at the back corner of the building with a lone man in black who appeared to be guarding a poster hanging on the wall behind him.

    “Can I help you?” The man growled out.

    “No.” Gary answered, trying to hide his discomfort with the current situation.

    “Then scram, kid. I’m busy.” The man said, still just standing in front of the poster with his arms folded.

    “But you’re not doing anything.” Gary pointed out.

    “Just because you can’t tell what I’m doing doesn’t mean I’m not doing it. Now beat it.” The man looked like he was about to start getting violent, so Gary turned around and walked back the way he thought he had come from.

    “Sheesh.” Gary said to himself. “What’s that guy’s problem?”
    * * *​
    “So what now, Ash?” Carmine asked as he, Brock and Misty reached the Pokémon Center. “Ash?”

    The three looked around and realized their ‘leader’ wasn’t with them.

    “Where could he have wandered off too?” Misty wondered aloud.

    “He was definitely just behind us when we first entered the city.” Brock commented.

    Carmine slowly raised the palm of his right hand up to his forehead. “Oh, Arceus!” He swore under his breath. “Delia’s going to kill me for this.”
    * * *​
    “I’m afraid this way is closed, miss.” The woman guarding the northern entrance to Saffron City told Daisy.

    “The city is closed? How does that happen?” Daisy asked.

    “I don’t know what’s going on. I just know I’m not allowed to let anyone through here. If you want, you can take the Underground Path to Viridian City. Otherwise you’ll have to head back to either Cerulean of Celadon.”

    “Fine.” Daisy mumbled as she turned to leave. She managed to find the entrance to the Underground Path and headed inside.

    In contrast to the tunnels through Mt. Moon, the Underground Path was more like being in a building than a cave. The path was nearly deserted as Daisy made her way through it. After hours of walking, Daisy was surprised to find a doorway leading into what looked like a restaurant.

    Daisy walked in and was greeted by a young woman.

    “What is this place?” Daisy asked the woman.

    “This is the Underground Burger.” The woman answered. “It’s a rest stop halfway between the two entrances to the Underground Path between Routes 5 and 6.”

    “I had no idea this place was here.”

    “Yeah, we get that a lot. People mostly just travel through Saffron.”

    “The city is closed or something right now. The guard at the entrance isn’t letting anyone through right now.”

    “Huh.” The woman looked surprised. “That’s unusual. Well, it should be good for business at least.”
    * * *​
    Carmine chased after his Sneasel, who was tracking down Ash by scent. Sneasel led him to a clean, well-kept building with an olive green roof that contrasted with the orange roofs of the buildings around it. Carmine opened the front door, which was unlocked, and was surprised by what he found inside.

    “What in the name of Ho-Oh’s Sacred Fire is going on?” He exclaimed.

    Ash has sitting on a couch with the old man from earlier, drinking tea. A group of Pokémon enthusiasts was gathered around them, apparently listening in on some sort of conversation between the two.

    “Oh, hey, Carmine.” Ash said when he looked over and saw him.

    “So you’re Carmine?” The old man got up and walked over to greet him. “It’s a pleasure to meet you, young Ash here has told us so much about you.”

    “And who would you be?” Carmine asked interrogatively.

    “Why, I’m the Pokémon Fan Club Chairman, of course.” The old man answered Carmine’s question. “Ash, as our newest member, has been telling us the story of your adventures so far.”

    “Is that so?” Carmine’s tone indicated that he wasn’t really interested, but the chairman didn’t seem to notice.

    “Why yes. It’s nice to hear the stories of a young trainer just starting out. It reminds me of the good old days.”

    Carmine turned to a man who was staring at him. “What are looking at?”

    The man gave a startled jump. “N-nothing. You just remind me of a kid I’ve seen hanging around here lately.”

    “Why, yes!” The chairman said. “I know who you’re talking about. He does look like that kid.

    “Look,” Carmine tried to stop the conversation, “I don’t really care. I’m just here to bring Ash back to the Pokémon Center, where the others are waiting.”
    * * *​
    Charmander and Bulbasaur travelled along a deserted pathway leading to Cerulean City in hopes of finding any clues to Damian’s whereabouts. As they walked, the ground beneath them suddenly caved in and they fell hard into a deep pit.

    “Oh no!” Charmander yelled in worry. “What now?”

    “Get a hold of yourself.” Bulbasaur tried to calm down his panicked companion. “I can easily get us out of here using my Vine Whip.”

    “Oh, okay.” Charmander wiped his forehead with the back of his paw in relief. “I thought we were stuck down here.”

    “There is one thing that bothers me, though.” Bulbasaur said, looking around.

    “What’s that?” Charmander asked.

    Bulbasaur gestured to the walls of dirt around them. “This hole doesn’t appear to have formed naturally. It looks more like it’s been dug out by hand.”

    “Very observant.” Came a loud, booming voice from up above. Both Pokémon looked up to see a group of blue Pokémon, all wearing sunglasses, looking down at the two.

    “The Squirtle Squad.” Bulbasaur growled.

    “I see our reputation precedes us.” Said the Squirtle who spoke earlier, who was wearing pointed sunglasses, as opposed to the round ones the others were wearing.

    “Who are the Squirtle Squad?” Charmander asked Bulbasaur.

    “They’re nothing more than a bunch of bandits that ambush unsuspecting travelers and rob them of everything they have.”

    “Nothing more than bandits?” Asked the Squirtle in a false offended tone. “We are merely a ragtag group of misfits that can only get by through the…” he paused, searching for the right word to use, “generosity of others.”

    The other Squirtle laughed at their leader’s apparent joke.

    “So then,” he continued, “How generous will you be to us?”

    “Why don’t you come down here and find out for yourself? Or are you afraid?” Bulbasaur said in a defiant tone, then launched a Razor Leaf at the Squirtle. Squirtle tried to dodge the attack, but the leaf’s sharp edge managed to graze his cheek.

    “Fine then!” The Squirtle leader said, as he jumped down into the pit. “But you will regret this. When people speak of the Squirtle Squad’s leader, they do so not of a weak Pokémon who cowers before those who oppose him. No, they speak of a mighty Squirtle who crushes his competition and puts all before him in their place. And I am that Squirtle!”
    “What’s that thing?” Yellow asked Red while pointing to a large tower coming into view as the two walked along Route 25.

    “I think that’s a lighthouse.” Red answered the girl. “Although I’ve never seen one in person, so I don’t know for sure.”

    “I feel like I’ve seen one before.” Yellow paused for a moment. “I’m not sure if it was that one or not.”

    “Well, let’s go get a better look and see if you can remember anything about that!” Red said as he started to quicken his pace. “Come on!”

    Red and Yellow ran the rest of the way to the lighthouse. When they reached its base the two were panting from exhaustion.

    “Okay,” Red said between deep breaths, “That was farther away than I thought it was. Let’s stop for a moment to catch our breath.”

    “I’m way ahead of you.” Yellow said as she fell down to lie on the soft grass.

    “It looks like there’s a sign on the door.” Red commented. “It says: ‘Closed for renovations. Please see the owner at Sea Cottage for any questions’.”

    “Let’s go check it out.”

    “Are you sure?”

    “Yeah, why not. I want to wait for a moment though. My legs are sore from running.”
    * * *​
    Bulbasaur and Squirtle faced each other with a fiery intensity. Charmander backed up to the wall so that he wouldn’t get caught in the battle that was about to begin. The two sized each other up for a moment and then both sprang into action at the same time.

    Bulbasaur and Squirtle both opened the fight with tackle, ramming into each other at full force. They both pushed against the other trying to knock each other down. Then they both jumped back and let out a projectile attack. Squirtle’s Bubble and Bulbasaur’s Razor Leaf collided in midair, with Razor Leaf slicing though the Bubble and knocking Squirtle back.

    Squirtle Withdrew into his shell and fired a Water Gun towards the side of the hole, launching himself towards his opponent. He slammed into Bulbasaur, who was barely able to brace for the impact. Bulbasaur then countered by releasing a wave of Poison Powder, forcing Squirtle to retreat.

    “You’re stronger than I expected.” Squirtle said.

    “I can say the same about you.” Replied Bulbasaur.

    Both Pokémon were beginning to show signs of fatigue at this point, but neither was willing to give up yet. Bulbasaur used Vine Whip on Squirtle, causing him to stumble back and fall over onto his shell. Squirtle reacted by spinning around and launching a Water Gun at Bulbasaur, who hit him with Vine Whip again.

    “Enough!” Said Squirtle, trying his best to maintain consciousness. “I admit defeat.”

    The other Squirtle watching from above all gasped at this unexpected turn of events. Their leader had never given up like this before in all the time that they had known him.

    “I never thought I would see the day,” Squirtle continued, “when I would find an opponent that I couldn’t defeat, but you have proven me wrong.”
    * * *​
    Red knocked on the door to the cottage next to the lighthouse. An unkempt looking young man answered the door.

    “Can I help you with something?” He asked.

    “Hi, are you the lighthouse owner.” Red greeted the man.

    “Yeah. My name’s Bill.”

    “We were passing by and thought we’d say hello. Also, we wanted to know if you’ve seen Yellow before.” Red pointed to the girl at his side.

    “Yellow?” Bill looked down at the girl for a moment. “I can’t say that I have.”

    “Okay, that’s fine.” Red said. “It was kind of a long shot.”

    “What’s it like to run a lighthouse?” Yellow asked Bill.

    “Well, the lighthouse is mostly automated. I just make sure that everything works properly. It leaves me a lot of time to work on my hobbies.”

    “Like what?” Yellow asked enthusiastically.

    “Do you really want to know?”

    “Yes!” Yellow said cheerily.

    “Well, then you might as well come inside.” Bill gestured for them to come in. “I’ll go make us some tea, then, shall I?”

    The inside of the Sea Cottage was rather cluttered with various books and machines piled up against the walls.

    “Sorry about the mess.” Bill said. “I don’t really get many visitors around here. Plus I spend most of my time at the lighthouse, so this place is mostly just for storage.”

    “What’s going on at the lighthouse?” Red asked him.

    “That’s a long story. I suggest we wait until the tea is ready.”
    * * *​
    Jessie, James, Meowth, Butch, Cassidy, Attila, Hun, Annie and Oakley all sat around in their training area. They had been teleported to the location and didn’t know where they were, but it seemed suspiciously like a gym. He didn’t look it, but Archer was a strict teacher who was putting them all though more than any of them ever expected.

    “On your feet!” He yelled as he walked back into the room. All of the agents obeyed his command immediately and stood to attention. “Thunder Squad! Thief Squad! You’re going to fight a Double Battle with two Pokémon per person, no items! J Squad! Outlaw Squad! You’re to observe the battle, and when their done, you’re up next!”

    The Team Rocket agents quickly scrambled to follow their orders. Attila and Hun stood at one end of the gym while Annie and Oakley stood at the other end and the others all went to the sidelines. Each of the competing agents waited for Archer to give them the signal to start. The moment he did, the battle began.

    Attila and Hun sent out their Skarmory and Steelix while Annie and Oakley chose Espeon and Ariados to start with. Skarmory flew up into the air while Steelix dug into the ground, leaving Espeon and Ariados unable to attack them. To bide their time until they could strike, Ariados honed its attack with Swords Dance and Espeon used Work Up to increase the damage its attacks would do.

    At once, Skarmory and Steelix both attacked Ariados, who barely managed to survive the two attacks. Espeon used Psybeam on Skarmory, who shrugged off the attack. Ariados used Leech Life to try to absorb some of Steelix’ health, but the attack had almost no effect and Ariados was defeated when Steelix bit it with a Fire Fang.

    Oakley called back her Ariados and called out an Umbreon to replace it. Annie’s Espeon used Helping Hand to increase the power of Umbreon’s Dark Pulse, which struck Skarmory and knocked the Pokémon out of the air. Steelix swatted Espeon across the battlefield with an Iron Tail, but was then hit by Umbreon’s Payback. Skarmory rose back up and sent an Air Slash flying towards Espeon, who dodged the attack and hit the Armor Bird Pokémon with a Shadow Ball.

    Attila switched out his weakened Skarmory with his Forretress. The new Pokémon hit Espeon with a Heavy Slam, knocking the Sun Pokémon unconscious. At the same time, Umbreon hit Steelix with a Dark Pulse, defeating the Iron Snake Pokémon.

    Annie and Hun called in their Donphan and Scizor. Donphan used Earthquake to attack all of the Pokémon on the field except Umbreon who used Protect to avoid the damage. Scizor then struck Umbreon with X-Scissor, knocking the Moon Pokémon unconscious and leaving Oakley without any more usable Pokémon. Not wanting to be defeated, Annie ordered her Donphan to use Earthquake again. Forretress and Scizor were both left severely weakened by the attack.

    Scizor slashed at Donphan with X-Scissor, drawing its attention and distracting Donphan so that Forretress could sneak behind it and use Explosion. The power of the blast wiped out all three Pokémon, and Archer called the battle.

    “Very good.” He said while clapping slowly. “Thunder Squad wins.”

    “What!” Annie yelled, outraged. “All our Pokémon fainted at the same time! It was a tie!”

    “That’s where you’re wrong. Skarmory was switched out before it fainted, meaning that Thunder Squad still has one usable Pokémon. ”

    “But isn’t that against the rules?” Oakley tried to argue.

    “I said that each combatant could only use two Pokémon. I didn’t say anything about not switching them out. When it comes to battle, you must keep track of everything that goes on or you will lose.” Archer turned to the agents sitting in the sidelines. “J Squad! Outlaw Squad! You’re up!”
    Jessie and James stood nervously at one end of the training battle field while Butch and Cassidy stood at the other end. Between the Team Rocket Agents stood their Pokémon, all awaiting their orders.

    As soon as Archer called for the battle to begin, Cassidy and Butch had their Raticate and Primeape charge at Jessie’s Arbok and James’ Weezing with a Double-Edge and Close Combat, respectively. Both attacks hit before Arbok and Weezing could react. After a moment of stunned pause, Arbok Wrapped itself around Raticate while Weezing launched a Sludge attack at Primeape. Primeape tried to hit Arbok with a Cross Chop to rescue its companion but Arbok twisted around so that the attack hit Raticate instead. Raticate was knocked unconscious by the powerful Fighting-type move.

    Cassidy recalled Raticate and sent out her second Pokémon, Wobbuffet. Weezing released a Smokescreen to cover the field in a dark cloud while Arbok launched itself at Wobbuffet to Crunch the Psychic-type in its powerful maw. As soon as the attack hit, Wobbuffet used Counter to hit Arbok and knocked it out in the process, while Primeape managed to land a Cross Chop on Weezing, knocking it out as well.

    Jessie and James sent out their new Lickitung and Victreebel at the same time. Victreebel struck Primeape with Leaf Storm, knocking it out and forcing Butch to call out his Poliwrath. Lickitung used Rollout, crashing into Wobbuffet and knocking the Pokémon out, but Wobbuffet’s Shadow Tag ability caused Lickitung to faint at the same time.

    The two teams were now down to their last Pokémon. But that did not last for long. Victreebel used Leaf Storm again and Poliwrath was defeated instantly.

    “Very good.” Archer commented as the battle ended. “For J Squad, anyway.” He turned to Jessie and James. “You’ve proven far better than I ever expected from you. I’ve noticed that your strategies rely too much on luck, but that luck pays off far more than it should, so I’ll allow that flaw. Outlaw Squad on the other hand…” He then turned to Butch and Cassidy on the other side of the room. “You rushed in without any thought and payed no attention to your opponents Pokémon.”

    Archer gestured for all of the Agents to come to him. “Thunder Squad, Thief Squad, J Squad; you’ve all passed your training. You can report back to Giovanni for whatever new missions he will assign you. Outlaw Squad; you require far more training.”
    * * *​
    Red, Yellow and Bill all sat in Bill’s living room.

    “My grandfather was the old lighthouse keeper here,” Bill began his story, “but when he retired he passed it on to me. After moving over here from Goldenrod in Johto, I’ve spent most of my time researching Pokémon. I quickly noticed the call of a mysterious Pokémon that passes through the area during its migration. I tried to call the Pokémon here so that I could study it. Any guesses as to what that Pokémon was?” Bill pulled out an audio recorder and played a ghostly wail.

    Red and Yellow both thought for a while.

    “I don’t recognize that call at all.” Red finally said.

    “Dragonite.” Red and Bill both stared at Yellow in amazement.

    “How do you know that?” Red asked her.

    Yellow just shrugged her shoulders, and didn’t say anything more, so Bill moved on.

    “That’s right. But it wasn’t just any Dragonite. This specific Dragonite was far larger than normal. Studies show that the average Dragonite is only a little taller than 7’, but this one was even larger than the lighthouse itself. Unfortunately, when I called it, the giant Dragonite damaged the lighthouse, which is why it’s closed right now. Although the repairs are coming along nicely, so it should be running again within a few days at most.”

    “Do you have any idea how it managed to get that big?” Red asked Bill.

    “I’m afraid I don’t. But reports of Pokémon that are different sizes or colors than normal come from all over the world. One of the most well-known would be the Cianwood Tyranitar.”

    “What’s that?”

    “In the Johto region there are legends of a massive black Tyranitar that terrorized the area in ancient times before being sealed away in the area that is now the city of Cianwood by the combined forces of Ho-Oh, Lugia and Celebi. It’s the only time all three of Johto’s Legendary Pokémon were known to work together. Most just assumed that the Cianwood Tyranitar was nothing more than myth until 12 years ago, during construction of the Cliff Edge Gate near Cianwood City, when the Tyranitar was reawakened and began to wreak havoc again. It was only stopped by the two strongest trainers in Johto working together against it.”

    Red and Yellow both stared at Bill in amazement.

    “I haven’t heard of that.” Red commented.

    “I’ve heard the two trainers later moved to Pallet Town a while back.” Bill continued. “I think their names were Graham Ketchum and Carmine Noir. Something like that.”

    Red let out a sigh. “You had me going there.”

    “What do you mean?”

    “I’m from Pallet Town. Mr. Ketchum disappeared when I was young, so never really got to know him, but I have met Mr. Noir. There’s no way a lazy, unmotivated guy like him would be able to do something like that.”

    “You… what?” Bill was astonished by this revelation, but quickly recomposed himself. “I’m not making this up. I should still have an old news recording from when it happened.”
    * * *​
    “I am going to go with you.” Bulbasaur, Charmander were both shocked by Squirtle’s statement.

    “What?”

    “You have defeated me in battle and proven that I am not worthy of leading the Squirtle Squad.”

    The moment the words left Squirtle’s mouth, the members of the Squad instantly started trying to convince him that he was wrong and that they would follow him no matter what, but he raised a hand to silence them.

    “I know you will. But I cannot face myself and consider myself worthy of being your leader knowing I am not the best. It is for that reason that I shall travel with my superior until I can defeat him in a rematch. If that is alright with you.” He turned back to Bulbasaur, who nodded. Squirtle put his hand on the shoulder of one of his followers. “I will leave you in charge until I return. And make no mistake, I will return and I will be stronger than ever!”
    * * *​
    “This is Mary reporting in from the Gold N. Rod Corporation’s annual beach fundraiser here at the Olivine Beach. Things are going great here and…”

    The reporter stopped talking when everyone in the crowd behind her started screaming and running away. She turned around to see what was going on as the camera focused on a large, dark object in the background. The object crashed into the opposite end of the beach and stood up tall. The mighty black Tyranitar, standing at roughly 26 feet tall, gave a mighty roar and fired powerful Hyper Beam into the air. The massive energy beam seemed pure black, with a dark blue-purple corona.

    “Oh, Arceus.” Mary whispered before turning back to the camera while listening to a voice in her earbud telling her what was going on and she started talking, her voice reflecting the pure terror she felt at that moment. “This just in: a massive black Tyranitar is attacking the Olivine coast. Reports say that the Pokémon first appeared in the area around Cianwood and it… it jumped across the ocean to get here. An evacuation of Olivine City has already begun.”

    The Tyranitar let out another Hyper Beam, this one aimed along the beach. The attack hit miles away from Mary and the cameraman, but they were still knocked back several yards by the force of the blow. As they stood back up to run away, twin blasts of fire and water struck the Tyranitar and two teenagers ran up, accompanied by a Typhlosion and a Feraligatr.

    “Are we on TV?” Asked one of the teenagers, who had black hair and gray eyes, who looked like an older Ash. “Hi, mom!”

    “Graham, be serious.” The other said. He had shoulder length red hair and brown eyes.

    “Oh, come on, Carmine. How often do we get to be on TV?”

    “Don’t ‘come on’ me. We need to stop that thing.”

    The two ran off towards the Typhlosion, leaving Mary looking blankly at them before turning back to the camera.

    “It would appear that two Pokémon Trainers are attempting to subdue the beast in a battle. Will they be able too-”

    The newsfeed cut off as the Tyranitar deflected a blow straight towards the camera.
    Red sat in stunned silence. Yellow also sat in silence, though not particularly stunned.

    “I told you.” Bill said, turning off the monitor that he had just played the recording from the Tyranitar attack on.

    “That did look like Carmine.” Red finally spoke. “I guess I don’t really know him that well, but I still didn’t expect him to be capable of something like that.”

    “Although we really didn’t see him do anything.” Yellow added. “It ended just as the battle was starting.”

    “I’ve decided to look into these strange occurrences. I want to find out what makes these Pokémon so different than normal. Although I’ve probably taken enough of your time already.” Bill grabbed some small pieces of paper from his desk and handed them to Red and Yellow. “Thanks for listening to my story. It’s nice to actually talk about this stuff with other people. Take these, they're tickets to the S.S. Anne.”

    “What’s that?” Yellow asked.

    “It’s a famous cruise ship. There’s a party being held on it in a few days, leaving from the Vermilion Harbor. I was planning to go there with a friend of mine, but I’m stuck here for a while due to the damage to the lighthouse and my friend said she was busy with something.”

    “And what would that be?” Yellow pressed the subject.

    “I don’t know. Do you want the tickets or not?”

    Red grabbed the tickets from Bill’s hand. “We’ll take them, thank you.”
    * * *​
    Daisy had to take a moment for her eyes to adjust when she finally reached the southern exit of the Underground Tunnel. The midday sunlight was far brighter than the dim lighting in the tunnel, and nearly blinded her when she stepped out of the cave.

    “Well that felt like forever.” She said to herself. “I can’t wait until I get a Pokémon that I can use to fly around instead of walking through caves and tunnels.”

    Kanto Route 6 was little more than a grassy field surrounded by trees, with a large pond near the center. Daisy walked up to the pond, took her shoes and socks off and dipped her feet into the cool, refreshing water.

    “Oh, that feels so good. I feel like I’ve been walking for ages.”

    She lay back on the ground and rested until she felt something nibble at her toes. With a shriek she pulled her feet out of the water, with a small, round Pokémon still clinging on with its toothless mouth.

    Daisy decided she might as well put this Pokémon to use and grabbed an empty Pokéball from her bag. After successfully catching the Pokémon, she checked its information in her Pokédex.

    “Poliwag, huh. Well, I suppose having a water type in my team should be good. Looks like you’re kind of small for your species, but whatever.”
    * * *​
    Red and Yellow headed out after receiving the S.S. Tickets from Bill. After walking a few minutes back to Cerulean, Red suddenly stopped.

    “What’s wrong?” A concerned Yellow asked him.

    “I just remembered that I was supposed to call Misty and let her know you’re alright. Apart from the amnesia. I don’t know why I keep forgetting that.”

    “A dramatic sense of irony?” Yellow suggested.

    “We can get to Cerulean faster if we use your Abra’s Teleport.”

    “You can Teleport?” Yellow asked in amazement as she held out Abraham’s Pokéball in front of her face. “That’s so cool! You’ve got to be the best Pokémon ever. No offence, Maggie.”

    Yellow called out her Psychic-type Pokémon and both she and Yellow grabbed on to its arms.

    “Can you take us back to Cerulean City?” She asked Abraham, before turning to Red. “Wait, how can Abraham take us there if-” Her question was cut short as she suddenly realized they were already standing in front of the Cerulean Pokémon Center.

    Red noticed the confused look on Yellow’s face and explained what happened to her. “Abra have Psychic abilities that allow them to read locations from their trainers mind to teleport them there.”

    “Does that mean you can take me to wherever my home is?” She asked the Pokémon. Abra only shook his head in response, before nodding off back to sleep.

    “What do you think that meant?” She asked.

    “I don’t know. Let’s go call Misty.”

    Yellow recalled Abraham and then she and Red headed inside the Pokémon Center, where they found a puplic video phone and Red entered in the number on the back of the card Misty had given him back in Viridian. After he entered the number into the large green box, its screen lit up and Misty’s face came into view.

    “Hello?” The red-haired gym leader asked.

    “Hi, this is Red. We met back on Route 1 a while back.”

    “Oh, hi Red. What’s up? Is the girl alright.”

    “I’m fine!” Yellow said cheerily at the screen.

    “She can’t hear you unless you talk into this.” Red told her as he handed her the telephone.

    “Thank you for rescuing me.” She said into the phone this time.

    “It’s good to see you’re alright. I’m Misty.”

    “My name’s Yellow. Maybe.”

    “What?” Misty looked at the girl in confusion.

    “It’s a long story.”
    * * *​
    Charmander, Bulbasaur and Squirtle went on their way in no direction in particular in the loose hope of finding any clues as to where Damian was.

    “So why are we looking for this guy?” Squirtle asked.

    “Because he’s in danger and I need to rescue him.” Was Charmander’s answer.

    “From what you’ve said it sounds like he just abandoned you.”

    “No! He wouldn’t do that. I know he wouldn’t.” Charmander’s voice faltered increasingly as he spoke. “He wouldn’t abandon me.”

    “Fine, whatever.”

    As the three Pokémon continued their journey, they crossed paths with a large woman in a gaudy purple fur coat and hat.

    “What do you think she’s doing out here?” Squirtle wondered aloud.

    “I don’t really care.” Answered Bulbasaur.

    “She looks like a city human.” Squirtle continued as the woman walked by them. “Not the kind you see in areas like this, out in the middle of nowhere.”

    “That is none of your business.” The woman said.

    All three Pokémon turned back to the woman, who suddenly went stiff. The woman slowly turned around to face them.

    “Forget that you ever saw me.” The woman told them nervously, and in a sudden flash of movement the woman was gone.

    “What… just… happened?” Squirtle asked.

    “Let’s just pretend none of that just happened and move on.” Advised Bulbasaur.
    * * *​
    Ash sat at an otherwise empty table outside the Vermilion Pallet House, looking up at the sunset, with Pikachu resting on the table. Brock had decided to go to bed early, Carmine was taking one of his walks and Misty had to take a call on her PokéGear, leaving the young trainer alone with his Pokémon.

    “It’s a beautiful evening.” Ash said to Pikachu, though really more to himself. “I wonder what the others are up to. I’m starting to miss the good old days when we were younger. When we were kids, Daisy would take charge of our little group and we’d all follow her into all kinds of mischief. Over time she mellowed out and Gary took over that position. Red and I would just kind of get stuck in the middle of their sibling rivalry sometimes” He stared back off into the sunset. “I miss Pallet Town.”

    “Everyone gets homesick.” Misty said as she walked up to him, carrying a drink in each hand. She sat down in the seat opposite Ash and handed one of them to him.

    “What’s this?” Ash asked as he took the drink.

    “It’s a Tropius Shake. I went to get one for myself and thought I’d be nice.”

    Ash took a sip from the cool fruity beverage. The taste was unfamiliar to him, but he enjoyed it. “That seems unusual for you.” He snidely remarked.

    “Ha, ha.” Misty said dryly. “I was just in a good mood. That’s all.”

    “What was your phone call about?” Ash asked the red-head inquisitively.

    “Oh, nothing you’d care about.”

    They both took a moment of silence to drink and watch the sun as it finished its descent down the horizon, the golden-orange light fading from view.

    “So, what are your plans for tomorrow? Or should I say our plans?” Misty asked the aspiring young trainer.

    “I’m going to challenge the gym here and earn my second Badge. Then probably head out to Saffron.”

    “Do you think about anything other than Pokémon?” Misty asked the boy with a small chuckle.

    “You don’t have to come with me if you don’t want to.” Ash told her.

    “You still owe me a bike. And at the rate you’re going, I wouldn’t really get home any faster anyway, so I might as well enjoy the company.”

    Ash and Misty continued their conversation, full of quips and minor insults at each other, for several hours. They completely lost track of the time until Carmine came back and, somewhat hypocritically, berated Ash for staying up so late.
     
    #3 Jun 19, 2017
    Last edited: Sep 12, 2017
  4. BZRich64

    BZRich64 The Mustachioed Machamp

    Pulgasari
    (Aron)
    Level 31
    Joined:
    Jun 12, 2017
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    1,295
    PokéPoints:
    ₽590.7
    “This is bad. This is really bad.” Thought a lone Pikachu jumping from tree to tree in an attempt to get to Cerulean City as fast as possible. “There’s no way I can keep track of her if she has an Abra that can teleport anywhere. And what happens if she tries to go back home. ‘He’ would find her in an instant. I guess I have no choice but to face her. It’s the only way I can protect her now.”
    * * *​
    Ash walked into the Vermilion City Gym with confidence in his stride. The others trailed behind him. The interior of the Vermilion Gym seemed rather plain at first, but something seemed off about the lighting, it seemed to randomly get brighter and darker at a chaotic speed. Ash looked up to see what was going on and was shocked by what he saw.

    The floor was covered in orange-yellow tiles and the walls were plated in some kind of dark metal, which seemed normal enough. But the ceiling had large tesla-coil like pylon jutting down from it, with bolts of blue lightning flying between them seemingly at random.

    “What…” Ash started to ask.

    “Hey, kid! What do you think you’re doing here?” A large blonde man in military camouflage walked up to Ash.

    “I’m here to challenge the Gym Leader!” Ash answered defiantly.

    “Now that’s a shocker. What makes you think you can take me on?”

    “I can take on anyone! I’ve already earned the Boulder Badge and I’m ready for another.”

    “Fine, kid. But you won’t last long in combat.” The man walked over to the other end of the battle field, clapped his hands, and suddenly the lighting turned to normal. “I’m Lieutenant Surge and I accept your challenge.” The man pulled out a Pokéball and threw it out over the field, the red light coming from it revealing a Pikachu.

    Ash looked down at the Pokéball in his hand. This was to be his Sandshrew’s big moment. Electric-type moves wouldn’t be able to affect a Ground-type like Sandshrew, as he learned back in Pewter. But then he looked over to the Pikachu standing before him and up to the one resting on his shoulder.

    “Are you going to send out your Pokémon or just stand there?” Surge called out to him.

    Ash let out a sign and lowered the Pokéball back to his belt. “Sorry Sandshrew.” He muttered. “But I just can’t resist the challenge. Pikachu! I choose you!”

    Ash stretched his arm out forward and Pikachu ran along it, jumping off his wrist, doing a double summersault and sticking a three-point landing in front of Surge’s Pikachu. Despite being the same species, it was clear that the two Pikachu were very different. Surge’s stood several inches taller than Ash’s Pikachu and had a lot more muscle to it.

    “Then let the battle begin!” Lt. Surge called out. “Pikachu, Thunder Punch!”

    Surge’s Pikachu slammed an electrified fist straight into Ash’s Pikachu’s cheek, sending the Mouse Pokémon spinning back and landing hard onto the ground.

    “Don’t let him treat you like that, Pikachu!” Ash cried out to his Pokémon. “Give him a Quick Attack!”

    In a split second Ash’s Pikachu suddenly moved with speed far beyond what it should be capable of, dodging another Thunder Punch and tackling his opponent from behind. Surge’s Pikachu retaliated with an Iron Tail, smashing Ash’s Pikachu across the room into a wall. Rather than slamming into the wall, however, Pikachu was able to jump off of it, gaining momentum to hit his opponent right in the face with a Brick Break. Surge’s Pikachu let out a Growl, which caught Ash’s Pikachu off guard and prevented him from guarding against a Tackle.

    “Come on, Pikachu! You can do it, I believe in you!”

    Ash’s Pikachu felt reenergized by his master’s words of confidence and got back up. He stared his opponent in the eyes, before enveloping himself in electricity and charging into Surge’s Pikachu with a powerful Volt Tackle. The force of the blow sent Surge’s Pikachu flying into a wall. He tried to bounce off of it like Ash’s Pikachu had done earlier, but just as he was about to do so, Ash’s Pikachu hit him with a Thunder Bolt. The attack didn’t do much damage on its own, but it distracted him just long enough to crash into the wall. When Surge’s Pikachu fell to the ground, he struggled to get back up, but collapsed due to the strain.

    “I didn’t see that coming.” Surge said as he recalled his Pikachu into its Pokéball and walked over to Ash. You’ve definitely earned this Thunder Badge.”

    Ash happily took the badge from the Gym Leader and held it high. Pikachu leapt back onto his shoulder and the two looked up in pride. They then realized that was a mistake as the electricity surging up above resumed.

    “Quit that already!” Surge yelled up at the ceiling. The electricity stopped again and then suddenly struck down next to where Surge was standing. “What have I told you about messing with the power grid, Rotom?”

    The ghostly ball of electricity made a buzzing noise before slowly drifting away.

    “What was that?” Ash asked in amazement.

    “Just a disobedient Pokémon. By the way, I wanted to ask you something.”

    “What?”

    “How would you feel about trading that Pikachu of yours to me for one of mine?”

    “What? No!” Ash was taken aback by the request.

    “That’s what I thought. I’ve been trying to get my hands on Pikachu that knows Volt Tackle for a while, but they’re rare and hard to find.”

    “I’m not giving away my Pikachu.” Insisted Ash.

    “I understand. How about you just borrow one of mine instead?” Surge pulled a Quick Ball off from his belt and held it out. “See if you can teach her how to use the move.”

    Ash wasn’t sure what to say to that.

    “I’ll make it worth your while. She’s holding a Light Ball that I’ll let you keep. It powers up a Pikachu’s moves. I can also look into getting you some tickets for the S.S. Anne; the captain’s an old friend of mine.”

    “Take the deal, Ash!” Misty yelled from the side of the room when she heard that last part.

    “Okay, I guess…” Ash relented at last.

    “Great! I got Volty here from a friend in Kallos. I expect you to give her back to me when she learns Volt Tackle.” Surge handed Sparky’s Quick Ball to a reluctant Ash, while a sly smile crossed over his face. “Or, you know, something along those lines.”
    * * *​
    Gary and his cheerleaders were making their way south on the Route 17 highway, but the traffic was so bad that Mal turned off at the first exit they could take instead of going all the way to Fuchsia like they had planned. The exit took them to a small, dingy town with only a few buildings that looked about as different from Celadon as night and day.

    “What is this place?” Garry wondered aloud.

    “I think this is…” Ali started to answer but trailed of. “I don’t know.”

    “Mossgreen Village.” Answered Cleo.

    “I’ve never been here before.” Kat remarked.

    “Hey!” A young woman picking herbs from off the side of the road stopped what she was doing and called out to them. She had dark green hair wrapped up in buns on either side of her head and light brown eyes. “Are you looking for the Gym?”

    “There’s a Gym here?” Gary questioned.

    “Sure there is. It just opened about a year or two ago.” The woman placed the herbs she had been picking into a back labeled ‘Mossgreen Medicine’ as she spoke.

    “Then where is it?”

    “Come on, I’ll take you.” She stood up and motioned for them to follow her.
    * * *​
    After seeing Ash and his traveling companions out, Lieutenant Surge returned to his Gym, where Rotom was waiting inside of a small computer terminal. The plasma Pokémon used its control over the computer to type words on the screen.

    -What are you doing? You know that Volt Tackle can’t be learned.-

    “I know.” Surge acknowledged. “During the battle, I could tell that the kid had a knack for bringing out the potential in his Pokémon. That kind of skill could come in handy for Pokémon breeding, but a kid like him wouldn’t be open to that idea. So, I gave him Volty so that hopefully she and his Pikachu can get together, maybe have a couple Pichu.”

    -But what if that doesn’t happen.-

    “It doesn’t really matter. Volty never liked it here and she was too fickle to use as a breeder. So at least she can hopefully be a bit happier out traveling. I’d honestly be a little surprised if she did pick that Pikachu as a mate.”

    -It sounds like you don’t expect to get anything from this. That seems unlike you.-

    “You know Pokémon breeding is a passion of mine. I want to start sharing that with others. Even if nothing happens now, I can try and more directly introduce him to the idea when he’s more open to it. I just have a gut feeling he’d be a natural at it.”

    -On an unrelated note, when are you finally going to start using me in battle?-

    “You know I can only use Pokémon native to the region for Gym Battles.”

    -I still had to ask.-
    “Well, this is it.” The green haired girl gestured towards the Mossgreen Town Gym.

    “Are you sure this is a Gym?” Gary asked, a little mockingly.

    “Of course I’m sure.”

    Gary followed the girl inside, with his cheerleader’s following him. The interior of the building was covered in moss and vines, with a Beedrill hive visible in one corner.

    “Yeah, there’s no way this is a Gym.” Gary turned to leave.

    “Of course it is! What did you expect a Bug-type Gym to look like?” The girl countered.

    “If this is a Gym, then where’s the Gym Leader?”

    “I’m standing right here.” Cassandra looked indignant as she spoke. “My name’s Cassandra and I hold the proud honor of being Kanto’s newest Gym Leader.”

    “Well, then.” Gary tried to hide his surprise at this revelation. “I challenge you to a battle. I’ve already got three badges.”

    “Okay then. This will be a one-on-one battle with three Pokémon each.”

    “Wait, what?” Gary was a little taken aback by that. “But all of my Gym battles so far were only one Pokémon on each side.”

    “That’s because you didn’t have enough badges yet.” Cassandra explained. “In order to keep Gym battles fair for trainers, the rules change according to how many Badges the trainer has. Less than three means a one vs. one, and the Gym Leader can only use a basic-level Pokémon. Three to four badges is a three vs. three battle and five to seven badges is a six vs. six battle. If you already have eight badges you can continue challenging more gyms in free-for-all battles where the Gym Leaders no longer have to follow the normal Gym regulations.”

    “I can challenge more than just eight?” Gary asked, a smirk crossing his face.

    “Yeah.” Kat chimed in. “I’ve got nine. Plus your progress carries over between Leagues so you can continue earning Badges in other regions as well.”

    “I’ll have to keep that in mind. Now, “Gary turned back to Cassandra, “let’s start that battle.”
    * * *​
    Red and Yellow traveled through the Underground Tunnel running between Cerulean and Viridian.

    “Can’t we just teleport there?” Yellow whined.

    “I already told you; Abra have to visualize where they’re going. That means they have to have been there themselves or use their telepathic abilities to see the area through their owners memories. Since neither of us have been to Viridian and it doesn’t look like Abraham’s been there either, we have to walk.”

    “But can’t we just have Abraham teleport us over there,” she pointed forward, “as far as we can see. Then teleport again, and again, until we reach the end of the path?”

    The two stopped walking as Red considered her idea. He looked down to the sleeping Pokémon clutched tightly in Yellow’s arms.

    “I guess we could give it a try. It’s not like we’d be missing out on anything down here.”
    * * *​
    Gary sent out his Pidgeotto to battle Cassandra’s first Pokémon: Butterfree. The two flying Pokémon fluttered around in the air before their trainers gave them the order to attack.

    “Pidgeotto! Use Gust!” The Bird Pokémon flapped its wings hard to create a bellow of wind that launched straight for the opposing Butterfree, knocking the Butterfly Pokémon down to the ground. Pidgeotto followed up with a Quick Attack, dive-bombing its opponent before the Butterfree had a chance to get up.

    Butterfree countered with a wave of Confusion. The purple energy blast knocked Pidgeotto away and gave Butterfree a chance to recompose itself. Pidgeotto launched two rounds of Gust, Butterfree was able to dodge the first blast of air with ease, but in doing so flew straight into the second. Pidgeooto followed the assault up with another Quick Attack, knocking Butterfree to the ground again. This time, Butterfree was unable to get back up again, so Cassandra swapped her out for Beedrill.

    Beedrill opened up with a Swords Dance, using the elegant gyrating movements to hone its attack power. Gary saw this as an opening and ordered his Pidgeotto to use Sand-Attack. The Bird Pokémon swooped down and launched a blast of dirt into Beedrill’s eyes. The Poison Bee Pokémon tried to jab Pidgeoto with a Venoshock, but missed because it could no longer see clearly.

    Pidgeotto launched a Gust attack at Beedrill, who was knocked to the ground like Butterfree had been. Pidgeotto tried to follow up the attack with a Quick Attack like he had done with Butterfree, but Beedrill wasn’t one to open itself to an easy attack. Beedrill thrust one of his arm-stingers strait up in a Venoshock attack, which Pidgeotto flew right into. Pidgeotto found itself Poisoned from the attack. Beedrill followed up with another Venoshock. Pidgeotto was barely able to muster up enough strength to hit Beedrill with another Gust, and both Pokémon collapsed to the ground.

    Gary called out his male Nidoran as Cassandra sent out her last Pokémon, Parasect. Parasect immediately struck Nidoran with a Cross Poison, but fortunately for Gary, the attack didn’t do much against the Poison-Type Nidoran. Nidoran charged the Parasect with his horn in a Peck attack. Parasect was sent reeling back from the super effective move, but quickly regained itself and launched a Stun Spore at Nidoran. The spore cased Nidoran to freeze up as it hit, allowing Parasect to come in close to Slash at the Poison Pin Pokémon with its large pincers.

    Nidoran then stuck its opponent with a Horn Attack, knocking the Mushroom Pokémon off its legs and opening it up for a couple Peck attacks before Parasect was able to get back up. At this point Parasect was showing signs of fatigue and tried a last ditch effort to defeat its opponent with another Slash, but Nidoran evaded the hit and finished the battle with another Peck.

    Nidoran began to glow a brilliant white as Cassandra walked over to Gary. By the time the Gym Leader reached the aspiring trainer, the Pokémon had evolved into a Nidorino.

    “Good job.” Cassandra told Gary. “Here’s your Mushroom Badge.”

    “Nice!” Gary said as he grabbed the red fungus-shaped badge from her hand. “Another badge and an evolution! Could this get any better?”

    “Don’t be too confident.” Cassandra said. “I’m probably the weakest Gym Leader in Kanto. The only reason I even took this job was to help bring in more business for my grandma’s medicine shop.”

    “Do I look like I care? A win’s a win. Now, off too…” Gary trailed off.

    “If you follow the road through town you’ll eventually get to Viridian.” Cassandra politely informed him.

    “Off to Viridian!”
    * * *​
    Daisy finally made her way to Viridian City after what felt like days of walking since she left Cerulean. It probably had been days, but it was hard to tell when so much of her trip had been underground. She was just walking up to the Pokémon Center when two familiar figures suddenly popped up in front of her, seemingly out of nowhere.

    “That worked even better than I thought it would. Good idea, Yellow.” Red said to his young companion.

    “Red? Yellow?” Daisy muttered in surprise.

    “Oh, hey Daisy. What a coincidence.” Red said as he noticed his old friend.

    “Hi!” Yellow said cheerfully.

    “It seems like we just keep running into each other.” Daisy tried to downplay her surprise at the two’s sudden appearance. “By the way, is your offer to go with you still open?”

    “Of course it is.”

    “Thanks. Going alone just gets kind of boring after a while.”

    “Although…” Red continued, “There is a bit of a problem with that. We were going to go on the S.S. Anne, but we only have two tickets.”

    “I’ll figure something out.”
    * * *​
    Tensions seemed high in Team Rocket’s conference room. At one end of the long table sat Giovanni, stroking the Persion laying by his side. At the other end, Hunter J sat stroking a Zorua resting in her lap and smirking brazenly. Jessie, James, Meowth, Attila, Hun, Annie and Oakley all sat between them, glancing back and forth between the two.

    “Ahem.” Giovanni cleared his throat. “According to Executive Archer, you have all passed his training and proven yourselves to be the best Team Rocket has to offer now. Although I trust Archer’s word, I will need proof of that, which is why you are here.”

    Giovanni picked up a small remote that had been lying on the table in front of him and clicked a button on the remote. Suddenly the table lit up with the schematics of a luxury cruise ship.

    “This is the S.S. Anne. In a few days this ship will leave from the Vermillion Harbor. Its passengers will consist of the richest men and women in the country and some of the strongest trainers. Your mission is to steel every Pokémon on that ship before it reaches its destination.”

    Attila scoffed at that. “And here I thought you were going to give us something hard to do.”

    “Oh, it will be difficult.” Giovanni countered. “We’re going to leak information about this mission to the International Police through Domino. They will know you will be there and they will try to stop you. Your test is to pull of the mission successfully despite that.”

    An uneasy silence filled the room. Everyone in Team Rocket had heard the name Domino, it was the codename for Team Rocket’s infiltrator within the International Police. However, Domino was so highly confidential that most in the Team thought that he or she was nothing more than rumor. For Giovanni to mention Domino so casually was a sign of how much he trusted them now.

    “Hunter J will be accompanying you for this mission to help you deal with any unforeseen issues. Are there any questions?” Giovanni looked around the room expectantly, but no one spoke up. “No? Then what are you still doing here? Get ready.”
    As Ash and his group began their trek up north up to Cerulean, Ash decided to check out his new Pokémon. He held out the Quick Ball and pressed the front button. A beam of yellow energy shot out from the device, as opposed to the red energy of a standard Pokéball, and the Pikachu materialized on the ground in front of Ash.

    Volty looked almost identical to the Pikachu Ash already had. The only significant difference being that the tip of her tail was rounded and had a small divot in it that made her tail look almost heart-shaped. A characteristic of all female Pikachu. The Pikachu resting on Ash’s shoulder jumped down to the ground to greet the new Pikachu. The two sniffed at each other for a moment, then batted their tails together, sending out sparks as they made contact.

    “You know Pikachu…” Ash started to say. “Things may get kind of confusing to keep calling you Pikachu if I have two of you around now. I think you need a nickname.”

    The yellow mouse Pokémon looked up at his trainer and gave a lively “Pika!”

    “Pika it is, then.” He held out his arms towards the two Pikachu. “Come on! I’ve got shoulders for both of you!”

    Pika and Volty both jumped up his arms and climbed up onto Ash’s shoulders, where they rested beside each other.

    “You know, you’re probably going to kill your neck that way.” Commented Carmine.

    “Why do you have to take the fun out of everything?”

    “Because it’s kind of my job.” Carmine gave a small smirk. “I also find it mildly funny, and I need all the amusement I can when watching over you.”

    “You’re kind of a jerk.” Misty pointed out.

    “I know I am.”
    * * *​
    Red and Yellow walked up to the entrance of the Vermilion Gym while Daisy went off to try and get an S.S. Ticket. They stepped inside the large building and Red approached the battlefield while Yellow walked up to the sideline bleachers to watch the battle.

    “I challenge you to a Gym Battle!” Red shouted to Lt. Surge from across the floor.

    “I accept your challenge. Let’s see…” The Gym Leader looked down to a device in his hand. “It says here in your record you have two badges so far. That means this will be a one-on-one battle.”

    Red called out his Charmeleon while Surge sent out his Pikachu. The two Pokémon faced each other while their trainers called out their first commands.

    Charmeleon and Pikachu leapt towards each other with a Metal Claw and a Thunder Punch, respectively. The two Pokémon each struck the other in the face with their attacks and glared at each other from behind each other’s fists. The two then jumped away from each other to prepare for their next attacks. Charmeleon spit out an Ember at the Pikachu, who dodged the attack and countered with a Thundershock. The Electric attack struck Charmeleon and Paralyzed him. Pikachu took this opportunity to hit Charmeleon with an Iron Tail, smashing him into the ground. Charmeleon was able to let out another Ember, which struck the Pikachu this time and gave him a Burn.

    With both Pokémon severally weakened at this point, it was anyone’s guess who would win. Red had Charmeleon fire another Ember, which Pikachu dodged again and hit Charmeleon with another Thunder Punch. This was Red’s plan however, and now that Pikachu was in range, he ordered his Charmeleon to use Scratch on the opposing Pokémon’s legs. Pikachu was knocked down by the attack, allowing Charmeleon to defeat it with another Ember.

    “Good match.” Said Lt. Surge as he walked up to Red. “You’ve earned this Thunder Badge.”

    Red took the badge gratefully, but then Surge continued speaking.

    “Where did your Charmander learn Metal Claw? That’s not a normal move for a Charmander to have.”

    “I don’t know.” Red answered honestly. “I noticed he had the move back when I fought Brock, but I don’t know where he learned it from.”

    “Oh well. It’s probably not important.” Surge’s words suggested he didn’t care, but something about his mannerisms suggested to Red that he was still interested.
    * * *​
    While Red was challenging the Viridian Gym, Daisy was waiting in line at the Viridian Harbor for what felt like at least an hour. Finally, she managed to make her way to the stand where tickets were being sold to board the various passenger boats and cruise ships that leave from the harbor.

    “Hello, I’d like one ticket for the S.S. Anne please.” She told the attendant.

    “I’m sorry, but I’m afraid tickets for the S.S. Anne are available only through invitation. You can’t actually buy them here.”

    Daisy was disappointed and felt like she had just wasted all of that time spent waiting in line, but then she remembered something. Walking away so that those behind her could buy their tickets, she pulled a Pokégear out of the bag slung over her shoulder and used it to make a call.

    “Hi, Dad. Can I get a favor from you?”
    * * *​
    “So where did you say you were from again?” Brock asked Carmine as they, Ash and Misty walked along the Underground Tunnel on their way to Cerulean.

    “I’m from Cianwood City in Johto. Why do you ask?”

    “I don’t know. I just feel like I should get to know you better since we’re traveling together.”

    “We’re also traveling with Misty and the kid.”

    “I already know Misty fairly well as a fellow Gym Leader and Ash is pretty open about himself. But you seem to keep to yourself a lot.”

    “I’ve had a hard life that I don’t feel like discussing at the moment. I left home when I has about Ash’s age, I met Ash’s dad and we became rivals and eventually friends and I was pressured into joining Team Rocket but eventually turned against them and moved to Pallet Town. That’s all you need to know at this point.”

    “What do you mean when you say you were pressured into joining Team Rocket? Did someone make you join?”

    Carmine ignored Brock’s question and continued walking. Meanwhile, Ash and Misty were trailing behind the others while watching Volty’s behavior.

    “She sure is friendly.” Misty commented as she stroked Volty’s chin. Small sparks came from the rodent’s cheeks and she made a small squeak of joy.

    “Yeah, not like Pika here.” Ash immediately regretted that remark as Pika gave him a small shock. “That was just a joke. Sheesh.”

    Misty let out a small giggle, to which Ash shot her a dirty look. Then that look faded into a different one as something donned on him.

    “I just remembered something.” Ash said as he plunged his hand into one of his pockets. “Back when I was talking to the Pokémon Fan Club President back in Viridian, he gave me this.” The trainer fished a small piece from the pocket and handed it to Misty.

    “What’s this?” She asked as she took the piece of paper from his hand. Her eyes went wide when she took a good look at it. “A bike voucher?”

    “He said it was worth any bike at the Miracle Cycle shop in Cerulean. I figure that should be sufficient payment for your damaged bike.” Ash explained with a smile.

    “Yeah…” Misty trailed off. “I guess it does. Which means I don’t… I won’t have a reason to continue to travel with you after we get there.”

    “Yeah. But that’s what you want, right? After all, you’ve made it clear you don’t like me and you’ve been almost nothing but mean to me this entire trip.”

    “But what about back in Vermilion? When we had that long talk over fruit shakes?”

    The two gazed into each other’s eyes for a moment then turned away in embarrassment.

    “Okay, I guess you have a point there. You were nice to me then. But still, I thought you wanted to go home and stop traveling with me?”

    “I, I guess I do. I just didn’t realize you’d be able to pay me back so soon. I was expecting this to go on a little longer.” Misty turned away again to hide the fact she was starting to blush.

    The whole group walked in silence for the rest of the trip through the tunnel.
    “Here we are, Cerulean City.” Misty announced halfheartedly to the rest of the group as they reached the outskirts of the city. “The floral lagoon city and town of bursting water, my home town.”

    “I guess this marks goodbye, then.” Ash said to her, a little sadness present in his voice.

    “I’ll go ahead and stick with you until you get to the Gym.”

    “Alright then,” Ash pointed off into the distance. “Off to the Cerulean Gym we go!”

    Misty pushed his arm a few inches to the right so that he pointed to the opposite end of town.

    “It’s that way.”

    The two marched off towards the Gym, but Carmine and Brock stayed behind for a moment.

    “What do you think that was about?” Brock asked the older trainer.

    “It looks like they’ve grown attached to each other.” Carmine answered. “And the bonds formed on a Pokémon Journey are not easily broken. That’s something I’ve learned from experience.”

    Carmine started walking after Ash and Misty, leaving Brock to catch up to them.
    * * *​
    Gary and his cheerleaders were riding on their way to Vermilion when Gary received a call on his Pokégear. He answered the call and the girls all sat in silence as they waited for the call to be over. Finally, Gary pulled the device away from his ear and put it back away into his pocket.

    “What was that about?” One of the girls asked him.

    “It was my dad.” Gary answered. “He said that he just got a bunch of tickets to the S.S. Anne and decided to send some of them to us.”

    The girls were all ecstatic with that news. The S.S. Anne was known far and wide as the biggest and most luxurious cruise liner in the country and actually getting on it was considered nearly impossible by most.

    “He said we’re supposed to pick up the tickets at the Vermilion Pokémon Center and that the ship leaves tomorrow.”
    * * *​
    When they reached the Cerulean Gym, Ash went straight to the pool in the center of the room, while Carmine and Brock sat on the bleachers to the sides and Misty walked around to the other side.

    “Where’s the Gym Leader?” Ash asked.

    “There are four Gym Leaders here.” Explained Misty as she reached the opposite end of the pool. “And I happen to be one of them.”

    Ash was caught off guard by this statement at first. But then he thought back and realized that there were signs leading up to it.

    “I guess that would be why Brock knows you.”

    “Yep. We tend to hang out at Gym Leader meetings since we signed up for our positions around the same time.”

    “Well then. Misty, I challenge you to a Gym Battle!”

    Misty held out a Pokéball that she had already pulled out of the console she was standing next to.

    “I accept your challenge, Ash. But be warned, I may be the youngest of the four sisters that run this Gym, but I’m also the strongest.”

    “If you’re the youngest, then shouldn’t that make you the weakest?” Ash asked.

    “No, why would you even think that? First off, I’m the only one who actually puts any effort in training and actually trying to do my job. And even if that wasn’t the case, being younger wouldn’t automatically make me weaker.”

    It was obvious that Ash had unwittingly hit a sore spot for Misty.

    “I was just trying to make a joke. I didn’t mean for you to take it personally.” Ash held out his arm towards Misty. “Now, let’s get this started! Pika, I choose you!”

    Ash’s first Pokémon ran along his arm and jumped off of it to the edge of the pool. Pika had a look of determination as he readied himself for the fight.

    “Go, Staryu!” Misty threw the Pokéball out over the pool and a brown, star-shaped Pokémon with a red gem in its center came forth from it and hovered in the air above the water. “Let the battle begin!”

    Pika launched a Thundershock at Staryu, who dodged the attack and flew around the room. The Water-type was spinning around so fast as it moves that it now looked more like a disk than a star. Pika kept trying to hit its opponent with Thundershock, but Staryu was able to dodge every blow with ease.

    Staryu was able to make its way around Pikachu and Tackled it from behind, knocking the Mouse Pokémon into the pool. Pikachu splashed around helplessly as Staryu went in for another Tackle. The star-shaped Pokémon rammed itself against Pikachu and they both went deep into the water. That was a mistake.

    “Pika!” Ash yelled. “Now’s your chance! Volt Tackle!”

    Pika could not actually here his master’s voice from below the water, but still knew what to do. The Electric rodent shot straight out of the water and high into the air while engulfed in electricity. The electricity spread throughout the water and zapped Staryu as Pikachu landed safely on the ground.

    “It looks like this battle is over.” Ash said smugly.

    “Don’t be so sure of that. Staryu! Recover!”

    Misty’s Pokémon lifted itself weakly out of the water and began to glow for a second. When the glow faded, Staryu appeared to be fine, as if it hadn’t even started the battle yet.

    “Okay…” Ash said weakly. “I didn’t expect that.”

    “As long as Staryu still has any energy left, it can Recover from anything you can do to it!”

    “Then I guess that means I’ll just have to make sure your Staryu doesn’t have any energy left!” Ash grabbed the brim of his cap and turned it backwards on his head. “Pika, new plan: don’t let up until Staryu’s down!”

    The Mouse Pokémon nodded at Ash and used a Quick Attack to knock himself into his opponent and the two fell back into the pool again. Pikachu then let out five blasts of Thundershock that spread throughout the pool, each hit doing massive damage to Staryu. Staryu tried to flee the pool into the safety of the air to use recover again, but before it could heal itself, Pikachu jumped out of the water with a Quick Attack and knocked Staryu back into the water with a Brick Break, before charging back into the water with a Volt Tackle.

    Pikachu jumped out of the pool again to stand before Ash. The two were just about to celebrate their victory when Staryu rose out of the water again, and then collapsed in from Misty.

    “Wow!” was all Misty could say at first. “I guess you win.”

    The young Gym Leader walked around the pool, over to Ash.

    “Here’s your Cascade Badge. I’m still shocked you were able to beat Staryu so quickly though.”

    Ash grinned. “I don’t think you were quite as ‘shocked’ as Staryu though.”

    Misty glared at Ash for a second. “Oh, just take the badge and leave already. I also wanted to give you this.” She handed him a Pokéball.

    “You’re giving me a Pokémon?”

    “It’s a Krabby that I caught while fishing on Route 1 just before… well, it was shortly before we met. I already have a Krabby in my collection and I was just going to trade it away for something else, but I figured you could use a Water Pokémon in your team.”

    “I guess this means goodbye then.” Ash said as he took the Pokéball from her.

    “I’m sure we’ll meet again.”

    The two looked at each other before Ash turned to leave, Carmine and Brock following after him. Misty slowly walked back over to her Staryu and returned the fainted Pokémon to its Pokéball. She put the Pokéball back into the console that, in addition to storing Gym Pokémon, also worked like one of the Pokémon healing machines found in Pokémon Centers. She then noticed something odd.

    “Misty? When’d you get back?” A familiar voice sounded from the entrance of the Gym.

    “Hi, Daisy.” Misty turned to greet her oldest sister. “I just got here. Why aren’t your Pokémon here?”

    Daisy blushed as she walked closer to her sister. “Well, you see… that’s kind of a long story…”

    “Where are your Pokémon?” Misty was becoming deeply concerned with her sister’s behavior.

    “Well… shortly before you left I met this guy named Bill who runs the lighthouse up north and we really hit it off. He’s a big Pokémon fan and being with him, I learned more about Pokémon and started to take more of an interest in them. I decided to start training so that I could do a better job at being a Gym Leader but I’ve been too embarrassed to let the others know, so I’ve been doing it in secret.”

    Daisy spoke so fast that Misty was barely able to process what she said.

    “Wait a minute. Did you just say that you’re actually going to start taking your Gym Leader responsibilities seriously?”

    “Yes.” Daisy voice was barely more than a squeak.

    Misty pondered that for a moment before speaking again.

    “If I leave for a while, would you be willing to take charge of the Gym?”

    “That’s what we already do.”

    “I don’t mean like what you have been doing. I mean, will you actually take responsibility of the Gym as a full-time Gym Leader?”

    Daisy hesitated before answering. “I guess so. Where are you going?”

    Misty gave a huge smile. “An adventure.”
    “Oh no!” The mysterious Pikachu worried to herself. “She’s not here. She’s already left Cerulean City. How am I supposed to find her if she can be anywhere at any time?”

    “I might be able to help with that.”

    The sound of another’s voice started the Pikachu and she shot a bolt of electricity towards its source.

    “Wow, that was a close one for me.”

    The voice came from behind Pikachu now. She turned around to face her visitor.

    “Wait a minute…” A sudden realization came to the Pikachu. “I know you. You’re her Abra!”

    “Guilty as charged.” The Psi Pokémon said, or rather thought, to the Pikachu. “My name’s Abraham.”

    “What are you doing here?”

    “Well, as I know you are already aware, I am a Psychic-type with the ability to read the minds of those around me in order to detect danger. Thanks to those abilities, I know what’s going on and how important it is to keep Yellow away from ‘him’.”

    “Yellow?” The Pikachu asked questioningly.

    “That’s what she goes by now. She doesn’t remember her real name.”

    “So why are you here, anyway? You still haven’t told me.”

    “I was getting to that. I know how important it is to prevent ‘him’ from finding Yellow, so I’m here to offer you a deal. I’ll keep you informed of where she goes and what she does. I’ll even teleport you so that you can continue to keep a close eye on her yourself. All I ask in return is that you keep ‘him’ from ever finding her. But that’s already what you’re trying to do, so it shouldn’t be any problem for you.”

    “This is a trick.”

    “No, it’s not. I genuinely care for the wellbeing of my new trainer and I do not want any harm to come to her.”

    The Pikachu eyed Abraham from head to toe, trying to find any sign of deception, but to no avail.

    “Fine.” She said at last. “But I still don’t trust you.”

    “Of course not. Trust is something that must be earned over time.” Abraham agreed. “Or if you can read thoughts and know someone’s true intent, but I guess you’re not quite developed enough for that.”

    Pikachu tried to hide her shock from that, not that it mattered. “How much do you know?”

    “Everything you do.”
    * * *​
    Charmander, Bulbasaur and Squirtle continued on their way in the seemingly hopeless pursuit of Charmander’s trainer, Damian. With no leads to go off of and absolutely no idea where they were going, the group eventually wandered up to a Pokémon Center. Squirtle looked up at the sign on the front of the building and read it aloud.

    “Rock Tunnel Pokémon Center, Route 10.”

    Charmander and Bulbasaur both stared at him in amazement.

    “You can read human?” Bulbasaur asked.

    “Of course I can! I’m sure Charmander here can read too, right?”

    “No.” Charmander replied.

    “Huh, that’s odd. Didn’t your trainer ever teach you?”

    “No.” Charmander looked down in embarrassment.

    “Are you implying that you had a trainer that taught you?” Bulbasaur asked, intrigued.

    Squirtle took a deep breath and pulled out a locket that was tucked into his shell. He opened the locket and showed his companions the picture inside. It showed a young girl with light blue hair and eyes holding a younger Squirtle. The girl in the photo was wearing the same unusual, pointed sunglasses that Squirtle now wore.

    “Her name was Samantha, but to me she was Sam. When she was young, she was become stricken with an illness that left her physically weak and unable to interact much with people her own age. Her parents bought me as an egg from a breeder and gave me to her to be her companion. We were happy together for many years, but the illness returned and she passed away. Sam’s parents released me into the wild shortly after with only this locket and these shades to remember her by.”

    Bulbasaur and Charmander both stared at Squirtle in awe and sadness.

    “But rather than let grief and sadness take me over,” Squirtle continued. “I chose to continue on for both of us! That’s what led me to found the Squirtle Squad and it is why I strive to be the best that I can be!”

    Charmander and Bulbasaur weren’t sure what to say, but then someone walked out of the Pokémon Center, diverting everyone’s attention. It was a blue-haired boy that appeared to be in his mid-teens wearing a pink shirt and brown vest.

    “Damian!” Charmander yelled excitedly.

    Charmander’s trainer looked down on him and smirked.

    “You remind me of my old Charmander. The gullible idiot’s probably still waiting for me to come back to get him, even though I’ve already replaced him with a whole team of stronger Pokémon.” Damian said before starting to walk off.

    Charmander felt the whole world melt around him into an endless void of nothing as he heard Damian’s words. His trainer had abandoned him. His worst nightmare had come to pass. Charmander was quickly snapped out of his depression and back into the reality around him as Squirtle suddenly hit Damian with a Water Gun.

    “Aagh! What was that for?” Damian asked in shock. “You know what, never mind. I’m leaving.”

    The trainer lifted up a Pokéball, from which a mighty Braviary sprung forth. Damian climbed onto Valiant Pokémon’s back and Braviary flew off.

    “Well.” Bulbasaur said blankly. “Now what?”
    * * *​
    Daisy walked into the Pokémon Center and looked around. She quickly found the person she was waiting for and walked up to a woman wearing a delivery service uniform.

    Hello, I’m Teala from Mystery Gift Deliveries.” The woman introduced herself. “Can I help you with something?”

    “Hi, I’m Daisy Oak. You should have a package for me.”

    “Oh, yes. It’s right here.” The woman pulled a sealed envelope from her bag and handed it to Daisy.

    “Thank you.” Daisy said as she walked away.

    Teala continued to wait around in the Pokémon Center for a while, before Gary walked in and approached her.

    “You have a package for me.” Gary said.

    “Do I. What’s your name, sir.” She asked in response.

    “Gary Oak.”

    The woman reached into her bag and pulled out another envelope, this one much thicker than the one she gave Daisy.

    “Here you go, sir.”

    Gary pulled the envelope from her hand and walked off. “Smell you later!” He said as he gave a sort of half wave back to Teala.

    “Interesting.” Teala said to herself. “Two Oak’s getting similar packages from the same person, who’s also an Oak. I wonder what that’s about. Oh, well. That was my last delivery here for the day.”
    * * *​
    “It’s about time you got here.” Lt. Surge said as Ash, Carmine and Brock reached the Vermilion Gym. “The S.S. Anne is going to set off in just a few hours. Do you still want four tickets?”

    “No.” Ash sighed. “We only need three now.”

    Lt. Surge handed three of the tickets he had to Ash, who took them and was about to leave when suddenly a voice came yelling from over the distance.

    “Wait!” A girl was cycling towards the Gym at top speed and made an abrupt stop as she reached them. She was wearing a light blue jacket and denim shorts over a white shirt that, upon further inspection, was actually part of a swimsuit; as well as a blue, triangle-shaped backpack with a single strap that went over one shoulder and under the other. The others almost didn’t recognize her at first until she took off her bike helmet to reveal her familiar orange hair.

    “Misty!” Ash said excitedly. “What are you doing here?”

    “To be able to go on a cruise on the S.S. Anne is like a once-in-lifetime opportunity.” Misty answered. “There’s no way I’m missing this.”

    “But what about the Gym?” Brock asked.

    “I already took care of that. Now, are we going or not?”

    “What’s with the new outfit? It looks like you’re planning on a longer trip than just the S.S. Anne.” It was Carmine’s turn to ask Misty something.

    “I was on what was just supposed to be a weekend fishing trip when we met before, but stuff came up and I missed my ride back home. Since this isn’t a fishing trip, I didn’t feel like just wearing my old fishing clothes.”

    “It’s good to have you back.” Ash said.

    “It’s good to be back.”
    The crowd waiting to get on the S.S. Anne was a big one. Hundreds if not thousands of people were waiting on the dock of Vermilion Harbor where the famous luxury liner was going to set sail from. Red and Yellow were waiting among the crowd for Daisy to meet up with them.

    “Hey, guys!” She called out as they came into her view. “I’m sorry I’m late.”

    “It’s no problem.” Red said as Daisy reached them.

    “So you managed to get a ticket?” Yellow asked.

    “Yeah. I had to call my dad and have him order me one, but I did manage to get it.”

    The three continued chatting for a bit until they were interrupted by an unexpected group of visitors.

    “And here I thought this was supposed to be a private cruise. But I guess this is just open for any old losers to show up.”

    “Hey, Kat! Good to see you.” Daisy ignored her brother’s sarcastic remark and greeted her cousin instead.

    “Good to see you, too. How’s life been for you?”

    “Don’t just ignore me!” Gary shouted angrily.

    “Then maybe you should give us a reason to pay attention to you.”

    Gary was about to retaliate with an insult towards his sister when suddenly someone ran into them and they both fell to the ground.

    “Hey! Watch where you’re going… Ash?”

    Gary looked up at his old friend-turned-rival in surprise.

    “I thought I heard your voice.” Ash said.

    “Wow, I guess the gang’s all here.” Daisy remarked enthusiastically. “What are the odds?”

    “Yes.” Carmine grumbled. “It seems almost a bit too coincidental. I feel like at any moment now a certain someone is going to turn up and tell us Team Rocket is here.”

    “You’re intuition serves you well.” Everyone was startled by the sudden appearance of Looker. “But the time to speak of our current problem has not yet come. We will discuss things when we get to the privacy of our cabins.”

    And just like that, Looker disappeared back into the crowd as quickly as he had shown up.

    “Who was that?” Red asked.

    “Didn’t Team Rocket disband years ago?” It was Gary’s turn to ask questions now. “Why would they be here?”

    “It’s a long story.” Ash answered. “And it looks like we’re all probably going to have to catch each other up on what’s been going on later, so we might as well wait until then before we start talking about it.”

    Just then, the crowd suddenly started moving as the S.S. Anne opened up for passengers to board it. The group went along with the crowd onto the luxurious ship and made their way to their rooms. They were all stationed on the same deck along with Looker and his team as well as a few other people.
    * * *​
    “Come on, Charmander. You need to get up.” Bulbasaur tried to nudge the Fire-type onto his feet.

    “No.” A crying Charmander insisted. “You heard Damian. I’m worthless, I don’t deserve to do anything but sit down and wait for the end.”

    “We all know that’s not what he said!” Squirtle yelled at Charmander with ferocity to his speech. “And besides that, he’s wrong. You are strong and you have the potential to be far stronger than your former trainer could have ever hoped for you to be. I see what you can become. One day you will be a Charizard, revered by everyone as one of the strongest and most courageous Pokémon of the Kanto region. The humans use your species and your evolutions as a symbol of power and a national icon.”

    “Really?” Charmander asked in amazement as he finally stopped crying.

    “Yes, and I know exactly how we are going to prove that you are better than him.”

    “How?” Both Charmander and Bulbasaur asked.

    “Damian wants to take on the league challenge by earning eight Gym Badges and entering the Pokémon League, right?”

    Charmander nodded.

    “Then all we have to do is earn eight Badges ourselves and beat him in the League.”

    The others just started at Squirtle in confusion.

    “What are you talking about?” Bulbasaur finally asked. “We can’t do that. Only humans can enter the league.”

    “I admit that I haven’t figured out all the details of how we’ll pull this off yet. But I’m confident that if we work towards this goal, anything will be possible.”
    * * *​
    Ash, Brock, Carmine, Misty, Red, Yellow, Daisy, Gary and his cheerleaders all sat around Looker’s room along with Looker himself, Lance, 009, Wes and Rui. Having 19 people in a room meant to only have 5 at the most was a very tight fit. They had just finished catching each other up on what had happened to each other since the four trainers had left Pallet Town.

    “So, why are you here, anyway?” Ash asked Looker. “Is Team Rocket here?”

    “We have heard from a reliable source that several of Team Rocket’s highest ranking agents are hidden somewhere on this ship. They are planning to steal all of the Pokémon on the ship before we make land again.”

    “That’s terrible.” Daisy said.

    “Ja, that’s why we need to stop them.” Looker continued. “And I would ask that all of you look for suspicious behavior in the other passengers and report anything out of the ordinary to us. Now, I believe that is all that must be discussed for now. You may now leave to do whatever it is you wish to do. If we need to speak to any of you again, we will contact you.”

    As the trainers and their traveling companions left the room, Red and Yellow approached Carmine.

    “There’s something I wanted to ask you.” Red said.

    “What?”

    “When we were talking to Bill up at Cerulean Cape, he showed us a video of a news report from when a giant, Black Tyranitar attacked in Johto. The video cut out just as two trainers rushed up to fight it.”

    “So?”

    “The two trainers were you and Mr. Ketchum.”

    “Wait, what?” Ash was startled to overhear that.

    “That was a long time ago.” Carmine said. “What did you want to ask?”

    “How did the battle go? What happened?”

    “We beat it, obviously.”

    “But how? That thing was huge and extremely powerful. What happened to it after that?”

    “That’s not really something I feel like talking about right now.” Carmine turned to walk away and nearly walked right into Kat.

    “Hey, I couldn’t help but overhear that you’re a strong trainer.”

    “And?”

    “Would you mind having a battle with me?”

    Carmine put his hand up to his face and sighed.

    “Why did I agree to come here.” He put his hand back down and looked Kat in the eyes. “Fine. I heard that there are some places to battle up top. Let’s get this over with.”
    * * *​
    Meanwhile, three decks above, Team Rocket were having a meeting of their own.

    “So we’ve all got our cover stories straight, right?” Attila asked his fellow agents.

    “James and I are a married couple enjoying our anniversary. We can’t have kids on our own, so we have Meowth as a surrogate. We’ve also never met any of you before, we just happen to be on the same floor as you.” Jessie said.

    “And I’m just a normal Meowth, so noes talking or walking around on my hind legs while I’m in public.” Meowth added.

    “Oakley and I are newlyweds on our honeymoon.” Said Hun.

    “And we’re also on our honeymoon.” Annie gestured towards Attila as she spoke. “Oakley and I are sisters like in real life and you two are close friends from childhood, so we all know each other and specifically wanted to have a shared honeymoon.”

    “And you?” Attila looked towards Hunter J, sitting in the corner of the room stoking the Zorua in her lap as usual. The small fox Pokémon seemed more relaxed than normal, almost like it could feel a familiar presence somewhere on the ship.

    “I don’t really care. I’m just here to enjoy myself and make sure things don’t fall completely to pieces for you.”

    Attila stared angrily at her.

    “What do you care, anyway? I’m not even a part of Team Rocket, I’m just a mercenary. Even if someone notices me, they can’t connect it back to you. And make no mistake; I have no intention of being found out.”

    “Fine. That’s good enough, I suppose. Just keep a low profile.”

    Jessie, James, Meowth left the room together. After waiting a few minutes, Attila and Hun left as well, leaving Annie and Oakley alone with Hunter J.

    “So girls,” Hunter J said, “I have something I want to talk to you about.”
    “So how do you want this?” Carmine asked to the woman that had challenged him to battle. The whole group had moved up to the top deck where several battle fields were drawn out for passengers to fight.

    “How about a single battle, six-on-six.” Kat suggested.

    “No good.” Carmine replied. “I don’t have six Pokémon on me that I can use here, and I don’t want it to take that long. How about a four-on-four double battle?”

    “Sounds good.” Kat pulled out two of her Pokéballs and held them up. “Let’s get this battle started!”

    Kat called out her Beedrill and Exeggcutor, while Carmine sent out a Crobat and an Ursaring. Without hesitation, both trainers started calling orders to their Pokémon.

    “Beedrill, Focus Energy! Exeggutor, use Egg Bomb on Crobat!”

    “Crobat, use Double Team. Ursaring, hit the walking palm tree with a Feint Attack.”

    Crobat created several illusory copies of itself, while Exeggutor tried pelting it with eggs, but the attack missed and hit the copies instead. During this time, Beedrill was storing up energy for its next attack, while Ursaring faded into nothing, leaving only the yellow ring on its belly visible before rushing up and striking Exeggutor. The Coconut Pokémon found itself, knocked down to the ground and pelted by Crobat’s Air Slash attack.

    Beedrill stabbed one of its stingers into Ursaring with a Poison Jab that left the Pokémon staggering back and poisoned. Unfortunately for Beedrill, Ursaring’s Guts ability made it so that she was now even stronger due to the status condition. The Hibernating Pokémon struck Beedrill with a Slash that send it hurtling towards the ground.

    Exeggutor managed to launch another Egg Bomb through Crobat’s Air Slash, disrupting the move long enough to get back up and whack the Bat Pokémon with its head in a Hood Hammer attack, knocking it down. Exeggcutor used Hood Hammer on Crobat again while Ursaring hit Beedrill with a Hammer Arm, leaving both Pokémon knocked out.

    Carmine and Kat swapped out their fainted Pokémon with a Scizor and Nidoqueen, respectively. Nidoqueen fired a Hyper Beam at Ursaring, who tried to counter with its own Hyper Beam, but was too slow and was knocked out by the attack. Meanwhile, Scizor used Swords Dance to heighten its offensive capabilities and Exeggutor used Trick Room.

    As Carmine sent out his final Pokémon, Feraligatr, the entire field was suddenly filled with a maze of feint purple walls that were almost invisible, yet very real. Scizor tried to use Quick Attack on Exeggutor, but instead crashed into one of the walls, opening itself up to be hit by Exeggutor’s Wood Hammer. After being hit by the attack, Scizor was able to strike Exeggutor with its own X-Scissor attack, knocking the Coconut Pokémon unconscious.

    Kat called in her final Pokémon, the Charizard she had received when she had first started her Pokémon Journey. Charizard was able to pass through the Trick Room maze to enter the battle, but once it was out of its Pokéball, it became trapped inside with the others.

    Carmine’s Scizor and Feraligatr were able to hit Kat’s Nidoqueen with an Iron Head and an Ice Fang while it recovered from the energy loss of its earlier Hyper Beam. Nidoqueen collapsed as Charizard came in and used Flamethrower on Scizor, knocking it out as well.

    “It looks like we’re both down to only one Pokémon left.” Carmine said. “I must admit, you’re doing better than I thought you would. Both of our remaining Pokémon are still fresh, but mine has the type advantage, so it’s clear who’s going to win this.”

    “Don’t be so sure of that.” Kat smiled as she spoke. “Charizard! Use Thunder Punch!”

    Charizard drew back its fist, which became engulfed in an electrical charge.

    “Quick! Ice Punch!” Carmine was almost beginning to panic.

    Feraligatr drew back its own fist now, the air around it beginning to freeze. The two Pokémon struck each other at the same time. There was a short pause as the two Pokémon locked eyes, with each other’s fists pushing against the other’s cheeks. Then, they both hit each other, using the same attacks with their other hands. The two continued to stare at each other for a moment as they stood there, until finally they both collapsed and the Trick Room dissolved around them.

    “I guess it’s a tie.” Kat said flatly as she withdrew her Charizard into its Pokéball. “That doesn’t happen often.”

    “It’s been a long time since anyone besides Graham has been able to match up against me.” Carmine did the same with his Feraligatr. “A very long time. Either I’ve gotten rusty or you’ve got to be the best trainer of your generation. Probably the first option.”
    * * *​
    Attila and Hun made their way to the top deck of the S.S. Anne to observe some of the other passengers for reconnaissance. They both casually leaned against the railing overlooking the next deck while facing opposite directions. Hun overlooked the lower deck while Attila watched the deck they were on.

    “What do you think is taking our ‘brides’ so long to get here?” Hun asked his stoic partner, who didn’t answer him. Hun turned to look at Attila and noticed that he was staring intently at someone in the crowd on the opposite end of the deck. Hun looked over to see who got his attention and first noticed a familiar hat. “That’s the boy from Mt. Moon isn’t it?”

    “Of course it is.” Attila growled.

    “This isn’t going to be a problem, is it?”

    “Why would it. If anything, steeling that son of a Growlithe’s Pokémon is going to make this far more enjoyable. I may just keep that Charmander of his for myself just to spite him.”

    “You’re a very vengeful person, Attila. All he did was try to stand up to you. You would have flattened him in an instant if we hadn’t been called away.”

    “Exactly. I should have beaten him there, but I didn’t. That’s what needs to be fixed.”

    Before the two could continue their conversation, Annie and Oakley finally arrived. The two were smiling about something as they walked up the stairs to where Attila and Hun were waiting.

    “What took you so long?” Hun asked the girls.

    “Oh, nothing.” Oakley said.

    “Anything to report?” Asked Annie.

    “Well, there’s-” Hun started to say before Attila cut him off.

    “Nothing. There’s nothing to report yet. Everything’s going smoothly so far.”
    * * *​
    “What do you want?” Gary asked Ash, who had just walked up to him after the battle between Carmine and Kat.

    “I want to see how far we’ve come since we all started.” Ash pointed dramatically at Gary. “And so, I challenge you to a battle!”

    “No, thanks.” Gary said smugly as he turned away. “I don’t really feel like a battle now, maybe tomorrow. It’s not like we don’t have plenty of time.”

    “Wait, how long does this cruise last anyway?” Ash wondered aloud.

    Gary shot a strange look at Ash. “You really need to pay more attention to these things. Although, I guess you’ve always been like this, haven’t you.”

    “What’s that supposed to mean?”

    “I’ll let you figure that out on your own. But yeah, we’ll be getting off back in Vermillion in a little over three weeks. Twenty-five days, to be exact.”

    “Three weeks?” Ash began to panic. “I didn’t think this would even last one week! I’m going to fall behind everyone at this rate!”

    “Fall behind who?” Gary asked. “We’re all on here with you. Or have you picked up some new rivals since you left Pallet that you didn’t mention earlier?”

    “Oh, right. I guess you are all here. I got carried away for a moment- Ow!” Ash’s sentence got cut off as one of the other passengers bumped into him.

    “Oh, I’m so terribly sorry.” The woman said. She was a tall woman, who at first appeared to be rather heavyset but on closer inspection that was due to the heavy fur coat she was wearing that obscured her actual body shape. She had long, bushy black hair with red-dyed tips and her eyes were a strikingly light blue. “Are you alright?”

    “Yeah, I’m fine.” Ash said as he looked up to see the woman. “Are you?”

    “Of course, why wouldn’t I be?”

    “I don’t know. Something just seems… off about you.”

    The woman looked down on him with disdain. “How rude. Kids these days have no respect for there elders.”

    “Sorry, Ma’am. I didn’t mean to be rude. You just feel like…” Ash tried to find the right way to described the feeling. “Like you lost something, I guess.”

    “Ma’am? Do you have any idea who I am? I am…” The woman suddenly lost all of her anger. “You may call me Madame Darhk. As it happens I have lost something very dear to me which I’m currently looking to find. Now if you don’t mind, I’m going to continue my search.”

    “I hope she finds whatever she’s looking for.” Ash said as Madame Darhk walked away.

    “You’ve always been good at making friends with strangers.”

    Ash didn’t realize that Gary was still there and gave a huge jump of surprise when his rival spoke up.

    “What?” Gary asked.
    Ash entered an elevator and pressed the button for go down to the deck his room was on. After Gary turned down his challenge, he wasn’t really sure what to do. He was also learning that having both Pika and Volty rest on his shoulders was tiring and probably not good for his neck. As he waited for the doors to shut, a familiar girl walked in behind him.

    “Hey, Misty.” Ash greeted the Cerulean Gym Leader. “Where are you headed?”

    “I want to find someplace to eat. How about you?”

    “I don’t really know.” Ash shrugged. “I’m not really sure what to do right now.”

    “Then why don’t you come with me?” Suggested Misty. “We can eat together.”

    Ash hesitated to answer at first, put Pika gestured that he wanted to go eat and Volty hopped off his shoulder over to Misty’s.

    “Well, I guess if these two want to go, I might as well.” Ash chuckled.

    The doors closed and Ash and Misty tried to decide what kind of food they were in the mood for. They couldn’t really agree on anything before the elevator stopped and the doors opened, so they went to find a map with the various dining facilities available on the ship and their locations. After studying their options carefully, Ash finally pointed to a spot not far from where they were.

    “How does this place sound?” He asked Misty.

    “As good as anything, I guess. Come on, let’s get going.”
    * * *​
    The Surfing Snorlax was an outdoor café on the S.S. Anne. Sitting at a small, two-person table were Wes and Rui, who had just finished having an early dinner together and were now discussing their current events.

    “So, that ‘aura’ ability you have. That’s what let you identify Shadow Pokémon back when we were going up against Team Cipher, right?” Wes asked his vaguely mysterious partner.

    “That’s right.” Rui Confirmed.

    “And you say that your powers are even stronger now…”

    “Where are you going with this?” Rui asked her companion.

    “So, if your powers are as developed as I understand them to be, then could you just be able to sense who here are members of Team Rocket so that we can go after them right away?”

    “I’m afraid I can’t. My powers aren’t quite to that level yet, and an aura only reflects someone’s nature, not necessarily everything that they do.”

    “Well, it was worth a shot, I guess.”

    The two sat in silence as they watched Ash and Misty sit down at a table on the other end of the café and order a meal.

    “They remind me a little of us.” Rui mused.

    “A daring trainer and his annoying redheaded companion?”

    Rui gave Wes a light punch in the arm in response to his joke.

    “Okay, okay. So you’re not that annoying. But what do you mean?”

    “Well…” Rui began. “I can’t really put it into words very well. The ability to see aura is in many ways an extra sense that most people don’t have. And like the other senses, it can’t really be described to someone with no frame of reference for it.”

    “Try.” Wes urged Rui.

    “Well, their auras are a similar frequency to ours. Although there also a bit different.”

    “What do you mean by frequency?”

    “I’d need to start with the basics to really explain it. Every person and Pokémon has an aura. Each individual’s aura has a unique pattern to it that only they have, but they can have similar auras to each other. Normally, people who have a similar aura are able to get along really well because that makes it easier for it to connect to each other, and it also allows some humans and Pokémon to bond more easily than others. Take that boy and his Pikachu for example; they both have an almost identical aura and seem to be like the best of friends, even though according to our records they haven’t known each other very well.”

    “So, does that mean I have a similar aura to that Pikachu as well?” Asked Wes.

    “Well, no.” Rui said. “As I mentioned, it’s hard to describe. Auras are primarily marked by a few aspects, the most commonly accepted terms for which are frequency and affinity. Frequency is the unique wavelength which identifies each individual’s aura and is unique to that person. Kind of like a fingerprint. You and the boy have similar frequencies, as do I with the girl. An affinity is more like what the aura looks and feels like, and is a bit harder to describe how it works. That boy and his Pikachu have yellow, electrified auras that bond well together, while you’re more of a metallic silver aura. That girl’s aura is a watery blue, while mine is sort of a wavy light purple.”

    “So, an aura’s affinity basically amounts to a color and an element?” Wes guessed.

    “I guess that’s one way of putting it. Although it’s not quite that simple.”

    “Of course it isn’t.”

    “I was heavily simplifying my descriptions of them. For example, that girl’s aura isn’t really just like water. It’s really more like a river. But then there are other people have ‘water’ auras that are more like rain, or an ocean.”

    “You’re right, this is complicated. Why don’t we move on to something else?”

    “I was thinking we should probably be heading back to check in with Looker.” Rui said. “It’s getting late and the sun’s already setting.”
    * * *​
    Red, Yellow and Daisy had decided to call it a day and head back to their rooms, but before they called it a night, Red and Daisy wanted to do some planning for what to do when they got back to Vermilion.

    The tickets Bill had given Red and Yellow were for a single room, and Daisy managed to get the next room over, so Red and Daisy decided to swap so that the girls could share a room, the one the three were in now, while Red was on his own next door.

    The two trainers sat beside each other on Daisy’s bed with a map sprawled out in front of them, while Yellow played with her Magikarp. Maggie was swimming around a large fish tank built into the far side of the room along with Daisy’s Poliwag. The two Water-type Pokémon were chasing after Yellow’s hand which she was moving along the outside of the glass.

    “So when we get back to Vermilion, we should go north up Saffron.” Red said.

    “But I haven’t challenged Surge yet. And what if Saffron City’s still closed?” Daisy pointed out.

    “Okay, then we’ll stay in Vermilion for a day so you can get your next Gym Badge, but there’s no way an entire city will be closed off for that long.”

    “A city shouldn’t be closed like that in the first place. What do you think is going on there.”

    “I don’t know.” Red shrugged. “Maybe a gas leak or something?”

    “Bad things are happening in Saffron.” Red and Daisy both looked over at Yellow as she spoke unexpectedly. “We won’t be able to go there anytime soon. Not that we should try.”

    “What do you mean?” Daisy asked the younger girl.

    “I don’t know exactly. It’s just a feeling.” Yellow then turned back to continue playing with Maggie and Poliwag.

    “I guess we’ll head east to Lavender Town then.” Red said, still looking uneasily at Yellow. “Then we can go south and make our way around to Fuchsia, maybe see if we can take a ship over to some of the islands down there.”

    “I guess that sounds like a plan.” Daisy said. “See you in the morning then.”

    Red left the girls’ room to head to his own. As he walked to his room, he felt like he was being watched. He turned around to see what it was and got a glimpse of movement at the far end of the hallway.

    “Probably nothing.” Red tried to reassure himself. “Just another passenger heading off to call it a night.”

    Despite that, he still felt uneasy as he opened the door and entered his room. Even as he got ready for bed, something was nagging at him from the back of his mind. He knew that Team Rocket were aboard the ship, but could the two members he encountered back in Mt. Moon be among them?
    Looker gazed towards the sunrise as dawn arrived on the first full day of the S.S. Anne. As he watched the sun slowly make its way into the sky, Looker pondered over what had brought him to this moment. Several high ranking agents of Team Rocket were somewhere aboard the ship, planning to kidnap every Pokémon aboard. All because the International Police had not properly taken care of the old Team Rocket five years ago, allowing them to reform now.

    Looker had been a part of the team sent in to take down Team Rocket. It was his first mission as an agent for the International Police and he had been serving under his mentor, Agent Adonis, who had taken Looker under his wing ever since he first joined the International Police.

    Looker turned around to face some of the other passengers walking by, on their way to either take in the view or find a good spot to get breakfast. Among the group, Looker spotted the trainer known as Red and the young girl known as Yellow. According to what they said yesterday, and confirmed by Misty, Yellow had apparently been fished up from a stream with no memories and wasn’t even sure if that was her real name. Looker felt he could relate to the girl’s plight. After all, he had been in similar circumstances once, years ago.

    As the crowd moved, Looker spotted Lance talking to a tall, red-haired woman and decided to walk up to them. As he approached the two, Lance noticed him and called Looker over.

    “Hey, Looker, good timing. I wanted to introduce you to Lorelei here.”

    “So, you’re Looker.” The woman said. “Lance was just filling me in about you and this whole ‘Team Rocket’ thing going on.”

    “Was he now?” Looker gave Lance an aside glare.

    “It’s alright.” Lance tried to reassure him. “You can trust her; she’s one of my fellow Elite Four members.”

    “The Elite Four.” Looker mumbled. “I have heard that term before, but what does it mean?”

    “The Elite Four once served as the last challenges a trainer had to face before they could take on the League Champion.” Lance started to explain.

    “But when the Pokémon League switched over to the current tournament system, we were repurposed as Gym Leaders.” Lorelei continued his explanation. “But we retained our old titles and we serve as leadership council of sorts within the League. We facilitate the various meetings with the League as well as make important decisions such as opening new Gyms. The status also offers other perks, such as being privy to the goings-on within the region and helping to stop potential threats such as the one we’re facing now.”

    “Hm.” Looker closed his eyes and nodded slightly. “I suppose that would make sense as to why Lance would let you in on this. I’ll let you do whatever you want to help. Although I would appreciate it, Lance, if you would let me know before you bring others into our inner circle.”

    “Yeah, sorry about that. I do want to let the other two Elite Four members in on this, just to give you a heads up on that.”

    “Fine.”

    “By the way…” Lance started to say. “I wanted to ask you something. When you first got here, it seemed like you had some kind of an accent and your speech was a bit off, but you don’t seem to have it anymore.”

    “Da.” Looker nodded again. “This is not my native tongue and it took me a while to readjust to speaking this language. Now that I’ve had some time, the lessons I’ve learned about how to speak it properly have returned to me.”

    Lorelei cleared her throat to draw the others’ attention back to her. “So, Lance told me that you’ve been letting civilians into this little operation of yours.”

    “Da, er, yes. Several trainers have gotten involved in skirmishes with Team Rocket, and I felt it only fair that they know what is going on. There are also two other Gym Leaders among them.”

    “Yeah, that’s what Lance told me. Misty and Brock, right? Those two sure are interesting.”

    “What do you mean?” Looker asked.

    “Those two are both the youngest Gym Leaders in the region right now, and yet they’re able to keep up with the others perfectly. Within a few years, they’ll probably be on par with us in the Elite Four. Of course, Misty owes the majority of her success to being my protégé. I’ve taught her almost everything she knows. I’ve also heard that Bruno trained Brock as well. Those two will probably end up succeeding us when we eventually retire.”

    “And why are you telling me this?”

    “I thought you wanted to know?”

    “No.” Looker shook his head. “I have little interest in the inner workings of the Pokémon League. My primary concern is Team Rocket.” He paused for a moment, then added, “And if we are to continue this conversation, we should do so in private.”

    “Suit yourself.” Lorelei shrugged as the three walked back to the room Looker had made into a makeshift base on the ship.
    * * *​
    Daisy was hurriedly walking through the hallway to an elevator. Red and Yellow had already gone ahead to get breakfast, and she wanted to catch up to them. As she turned the corner, she was stopped by an elderly man with a thick mustache, wearing a dark blue suit and matching bowler hat.

    “Excuse me.” The man sounded rather desperate. Like he was trying his hardest not to panic. “I need your help. My granddaughter has gone missing and I can’t find her anywhere.”

    “I’ll help in any way I can.” Daisy said without any hesitation.

    “Thank you so much.” The man said gratefully. “She slipped away from me because she wanted to play, but my old legs just can’t go as fast as they used to. If she managed to make her way to the elevator, she could be just about anywhere on the ship by this point.”

    “Have you tried asking someone to put out an alert or something to get a search going?” Daisy asked helpfully.

    “I haven’t seen anyone else since I lost her. I had just finished searching this floor when I ran into you.”

    Daisy started to walk towards the elevator behind the man and gestured for him to follow her. “Then let’s go see the captain. If anyone can help you find your granddaughter, it would be him. He should be able to call an alert or something to get the crew searching.”

    “Yes.” The man said. “That sounds like a good idea. The best idea, really. Thank Arceus you arrived when you did, I was just about to lose hope in being able to find her if she’s lost on a huge ship like this. Now, let’s get going.”
    * * *​
    Jessie and James were at the Surfing Snorlax, sitting at a table overlooking the lower deck so that they could observe the people down below. Meowth was curled up beneath the table and pretending to take a nap.

    “So, when are we actually going to get started?” James asked quietly.

    “Start what?” Jessie responded.

    “The mission.” Was James’ answer. “Just sitting around like this isn’t going to do anything.”

    “Attila said that we needed to do a lot of reconnaissance to see what it is we actually need to do. It will probably only be a few days. Why are you asking?”

    A waiter walked over and handed the pair the drinks they had ordered when they first got there a few minutes ago.

    “I’m not sure.” James took a sip of his warm beverage. “I just can’t help shake this uneasy feeling, like something’s about to happen. What happens if we fail the mission? What will-”

    Before James could blurt out any sensitive information, Meowth reached over and scratched at his ankle, pretending to stretch. James bit back a yelp and kept his mouth shut for the remainder of their stay at the café, except to continue drinking. After they had finished their drink’s Jessie and James got up and left, with Meowth trailing behind them. The feline Pokémon was having trouble walking on all four of his legs like a normal Meowth would, because he had grown so used to walking on only his hind legs like a human. It had taken him years to learn how to walk like that, and reverting to his natural stance after so long felt wrong to him.
    Ash made his way to the battling area on the top decks of the S.S. Anne. Gary may have turned down his challenge yesterday, but Ash was determined to get a battle. As he climbed up the stairs, he looked around to find someone that looked like they could offer him a good fight. To Ash’s surprise, the ‘battle deck’ as it was known, was almost completely empty. There was a battle going on at the far end, with a few spectators watching, and a few people looking at the ocean view over the railings, but they didn’t seem like trainers. Ash turned around in disappointment, but then saw Red coming up the staircase behind him.

    “Hey, Ash!” Red called up to him. “You looking for a good training match too?”

    “Yeah.” Ash answered. “But there’s no one here.”

    “Then I guess we’ll just have to fight each other.” Red said as he caught up to Ash at the top of the stairs.

    “You’re on! Let’s do this!”

    “Alright, then let’s get ready.”
    * * *​
    After Red and Yellow finally gave up on waiting for Daisy to join them for breakfast like they had planned, Red decided to go up to get some practice in for Pokémon battling. Yellow wasn’t really interested in watching him fight right now though, so Red dropped her off at her room so that she could play with her Pokémon, Maggie and Abraham.

    Yellow was currently trying to teach Maggie how to do some tricks but to no avail. Meanwhile, Abraham sat in the corner of the room, fast asleep in the chair that Red had been sitting in last night.

    “Come on, do it like this.” Yellow straightened out her arms and legs while lying on her bed and rolled across it. “Now it’s your turn.”

    Maggie tilted to one side and then the other before straightening back up again.

    “No, Maggie. I want you to roll over.” Yellow complained as she sat back up. “It’s really easy to- whoa!”

    Yellow practically fell off the bed as Abraham suddenly appeared next to her. The Abra held up his right hand, which began to glow purple. Maggie became enveloped in a similar glow and was spun around the way Yellow was trying to get her to roll over before the glow vanished from both Pokémon and Abraham Teleported back to the chair in the corner of the room.

    “See, Maggie!” Yellow told the Fish Pokémon. “If Abraham can figure out how to make you do it in his sleep, then you should be able to do it easily.

    Maggie tried to roll over again, but again, only swayed to one side and back up again.

    “Seriously, Maggie, this should be so simple.”
    * * *​
    Ash and Red stared each other down from opposite ends of the field drawn onto the battle deck’s floor. Between the two trainers, their Pokémon faced each other as well.

    “Sandshrew!” Ash called out. “Use Poison Sting!”

    Sandshrew rushed at its opponent and jabbed it in the face with his claw, inflicting the opposing Pokémon with Poison.

    “Paras!” Red called out to his own Pokémon. “Counter that with Poison Powder!”

    Paras sent out a wave of the poisonous powder from the mushroom on its back and inflicted Sandshrew with the status condition as well. With both Pokémon now poisoned, Sandshrew jumped back and swung one of its claws in front of itself, sending out white star-shaped projectiles. Paras tried to dodge, but the Swift attack turned around in midair to hit it. Not letting its opponent get a hit in, Sandshrew ran up close and clawed wildly at his opponent with Fury Swipes.

    “Paras! Fury Cutter!”

    The Bug-type struck Sandshrew with its claw. Sandshrew used Defense Curl to brace itself for the next hit, and Paras used Fury Cutter again.

    “This is your chance Sandshrew!” Ash cheered his Pokémon on. “You know what to do next!”

    The Mouse Pokémon spun forward in a Rollout attack and ran into Paras. Paras turned to face its opponent again, but Sandshrew curved back around and ran into Paras a second time. Paras tried to use Absorb to weaken Sandshrew, but it was no use as Sandshrew struck Paras again, this time knocking it out.

    “Good match.” Red said as he returned his fainted Pokémon to its Pokéball. “I honestly wasn’t expecting you to win with a type disadvantage.”

    “Well, I guess I’ve just improved a lot. I guess I have Carmine to thank for that since he’s the one who actually got me to start training for this kind of thing.”

    “Yeah, traveling with an experienced trainer does give you kind of an advantage. Not to mention two Gym Leaders. I have to make do by figuring things out on my own.”

    “I kind of feel bad about it.”

    “Don’t.” Red reassured Ash. “It’s your duty as a Pokémon Trainer to use every resource at your disposal. That includes the help of those with more experience than yourself.”

    The two friends walked up to each other and shook hands. After a long silence, Red finally spoke up.

    “By the way, you haven’t heard anything from back home recently, have you?”

    “No, why?”

    “I just haven’t checked back in since I left. I’m starting to wonder if there’s anything going on back home.”

    “Well, I haven’t called my mom or anything, either. In fact, she’s probably getting worried about me.”
    * * *​
    Daisy and the older man she was helping approached the entrance leading to the Captain’s quarters. No one was outside, so Daisy knocked on the door as she walked up to it and a voice came from inside telling them to come in. Daisy opened the door and the two stepped inside the room.

    Daisy was caught off guard by how sparse the room seemed. Aside from a large bookshelf in the far corner from the door and a desk directly across from when she was now standing, there was barely anything in it besides a couple chairs and some sea charts and pictures hung up along the walls. The captain sat at his desk, looking over some papers.

    “Can I help you with something?” The captain asked as he looked up at the two walking in.

    “Yes, I have a problem.” The old man said. “My granddaughter ran off and now I can’t find her anywhere.”

    “Well, that is good timing. You see, I was just about to make an announcement that a girl had just been found. I would assume she’s your missing granddaughter.” The captain pointed over to the wall opposite him, where a young girl was napping in a chair. “She wandered over here and promptly fell asleep before she could tell me where she came from.”

    “That’s my granddaughter alright.” The old man said with a sigh of relief as he walked over to pick the girl up. “She’s always so energetic that she tends to wear herself out quickly. Thank you, both.”

    The man nodded before walking back out of the room, leaving Daisy alone with the captain.

    “And what about you?” The captain asked her.

    “Oh, nothing. I was just trying to help him find his granddaughter.” Daisy responded. “Thanks for helping him out, I guess I’ll be going now.”

    “Hold on a moment.” The captain said as she turned around to leave. “You are a Pokémon trainer, are you not?”

    “Yes.” Daisy said hesitantly. She still hadn’t quite figured out how people always seemed to tell that right away, just from a glance.

    “You wouldn’t happen to be interested in teaching one of your Pokémon how to cut down trees, would you?”

    “I’ve never even thought about that.” Daisy answered honestly. “Why?”

    “I may not look it now, but back in my day I was known as the “Cut Master”. I was renowned for my ability to train Pokémon how to use the move Cut to chop down trees, whether it be to make logging easier or ever just to clear a path blocked by overgrown foliage. If you want, I can teach your Pokémon how to use the move Cut. It’s the least I could do.”

    “I guess I don’t really see why not.” Daisy shrugged. “It could come in handy, I guess. Bulbasaur could probably learn it.”

    “Great!” The captain exclaimed as he stood up from his chair. “I’ve been wanting an excuse to start training Pokémon again for quite some time now. So let’s get started.”
     
    #4 Jul 28, 2017
    Last edited: Nov 26, 2017
  5. BZRich64

    BZRich64 The Mustachioed Machamp

    Pulgasari
    (Aron)
    Level 31
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    ₽590.7
    One week has passed since the S.S. Anne set off from the Vermilion Harbor. Ash made his way up to the battle deck at the top of the ship to have a training battle with Red, which had become part of their daily routine. Ash was met with a surprise however, as it was not Red that was waiting for him. Gary stood at the top of the staircase, standing alone with his arms crossed and looking rather impatient.

    “What are you doing here?” Ash asked his rival.

    “I was bored. I figured I could liven things up a little by fighting a strong opponent, but I guess you’ll have to do instead.”

    “Hey!” Ash yelled in indignation.

    “And here I thought you’d be happy that I’m finally taking you up on your challenge.” Gary shrugged while giving a sly smile. “But if you don’t want to fight, I guess I can just try to find someone else that’s willing to.”

    “No!” Ash waved his arm in front of him in a useless gesture in an attempt at adding emphasis “I’ll fight you and I’ll beat you.”

    “Okay then,” Gary shrugged again. “But don’t complain when I wipe the floor with you. Now, let’s get started so you won’t have to wait as long for your inevitable defeat.”
    * * *​
    Carmine sat in a folding chair sitting near the S.S. Anne’s pool, looking around at the crowd around it. He spotted a couple of women sitting across from him that seemed oddly familiar. One was a blonde in a pink and black swimsuit, while the other had silver hair and a purple and black swimsuit. Carmine was sure that he had seen those two before, but where? And when?

    “So what made you join Team Rocket?” Carmine nearly jumped out of his chair out of shock at Brock’s sudden appearance, his thought process of trying to figure out who those two girls were being cut off.

    “You’re just determined to find out more about me, aren’t you?” Carmine replied, rather annoyed. “Are you trying to become a detective or something?”

    “No, actually I want to be a Pokémon breeder. Or maybe a doctor, I’m not quite sure yet.”

    “Then why don’t you just leave me alone then?”

    “Your life just seems really interesting. I want to hear more of your story.”

    “Well, if it will get you to stop pestering me, then I will tell you something.” Carmine relented. “My joining Team Rocket had to do with my sister. There, no stop asking me annoying questions and go do something else.”

    Carmine didn’t need to tell Brock twice; as the Gym Leader had just noticed the two women that Carmine had been watching. Without a word to Carmine, Brock was off to flirt with the two.

    Carmine just sighed and shook his head while muttering to himself. “Things weren’t too bad when it was just me and Ash. Or would that be Ash and I? Anyway, he may have been a little incompetent starting out, but the kid’s a fast learned like his father. But now that those two Gym Leaders are here, this is getting almost unbearable.”

    Carmine paused for a moment, a revelation coming to him.

    “Wait a minute, the kid doesn’t even still need me. He’s got two Gym Leaders to watch him now to watch him. That’s it, chance I’m calling Delia and seeing if I can Weedle my way out this this so I can just go home.”

    Carmine pulled his PokéGear out of his pocket, but stopped as he was about to dial Delia Ketchum’s number. “Then again, with Team Rocket back it will be really dangerous for them. And who knows how strong this new iteration is in comparison. Those two with the talking Meowth that I fought back in Viridian were weak enough not to be a threat, but that girl in the mask we ran into in Mt. Moon was much stronger. And Looker said they have Shadow Pokémon now. I didn’t really pay much attention to that stuff that was happening in Orre last year, but I know those are supposed to be dangerous.” Carmine put the PokéGear back into his pocket. “I might need to stick around just in case.”
    * * *​
    “Fearow! Use Peck!” Ash ordered his Pokémon as the battle started. The giant bird hit his opponent with its beak, sending the other Pokémon back.

    “Don’t just take that, Nidorino!” Gary yelled. “Give him a Peck of your own!”

    The purple Poison-type charged head-first at Fearow and jabbed the Beak Pokémon with its horn. Fearow struck back with a barrage of Fury Attack. Unfortunately for Fearow, it accidentally graved itself against one of Nidorino’s spines and poisoned itself in the process. Nidorino flipped around and hit Fearow with a Double Kick, though the Fighting attack didn’t do much against the Flying-type Pokémon.

    “I think it’s time to use that move Carmine taught you.” Ash said to his Fearow. “Fly!”

    The Beak Pokémon flew up out of Nidorino’s reach, dodging a Horn Attack in the process, and then dive-bombed the Poison-type, sending Nidorino reeling back from the powerful hit.

    “You’re not done yet, Nidorino! Use Horn Attack!”

    Nidorino charged at Fearow, which wasn’t easy as he could barely keep himself upright due to fatigue. The attack hit and Fearow was knocked down from the blow. The bird Pokémon was too weak to lift itself back up into the air again, so instead used Mirror Move. The air in front of Fearow solidified into a mirror, from which a phantom image of Gary’s Nidorino charged out and struck its doppelgänger with the same Horn Attack that he had just used on Fearow. Both the mirror and the phantom Nidorino evaporated back into air while the real Nidorino collapsed onto the ground and fainted.

    Gary stared at the battle with his jaw hanging slightly ajar. “How did…” He mumbled. “How did you beat me?” Suddenly he was yelling. “There’s no way a loser like you could be defeat me! You must have cheated somehow!”

    “I didn’t cheat.” Ash defended himself. “I beat you fair and square. Er, I should say we beat you. I can’t take all the credit for myself.” Ash petted his Fearow before returning him back to his Pokéball.

    “I still don’t believe this.” Gary went on. “We will have a rematch some day and I will correct this mistake! Ash Ketchum, be on guard because the next time we fight I will wipe the floor with you!”

    Gary called his Nidorino back into its Pokéball and turned to leave. After taking a few steps, he turned back again for a moment, “Smell you later, loser!” then stormed off.

    Ash watched as Gary left, angry at being accused of cheating, but then it slowly donned on him and Ash’s frown turned into a giant smile of pure joy. “I! BEAT! GARY!” Ash jumped up and raised his fist into the air, nearly knocking Pika and Volty off of his shoulders. “Oh, sorry guys. I forgot you were there for a moment. Can you believe that I just beat Gary? And in our first Pokémon battle, even?”

    “Pi-Pikachu!” Pika said excitedly as he leapt down to the ground in front of Ash, turning around to face him.

    Volty used Quick Attack to run over next to Pika in a flash. “Pikapi-Pi!”
    * * *​
    Hunter J had grown tired of waiting around in her room. So shortly after the Team Rocket agents she was supposed to be babysitting left for their ‘daily reconnaissance’ she left and took a walk around the ship.

    “What do those fools even need any more reconnaissance for?” Hunter j thought to herself. “If I was in charge here we would have taken the entire ship, taken my pick of the rare Pokémon here with buyers lined up for the others and she would even be holding some of the passengers for ransom.”

    She turned a corner and immediately stepped back behind it. She pressed a button on the Snag machine on her left arm, activating one of the many enhancements she had added to it. A small bug-like drone only about an inch tall flew out from the machine and flew around the corner. On Hunter J’s visor, a screen popped up showing the video feed from the drone’s camera.

    “What’s he doing here?” Hunter J thought as she walked back the way she came, keeping an eye on the video to make sure that the man she saw hadn’t seen her. “What are the odds that the one person who could actually blow my cover happens to be here, on the opposite side of the planet of where he’s supposed to be right now?” She gave a sort of grimacing half smile from her mixed emotions from this revelation.

    “I suppose even if it’s under poor circumstances, it is nice to see you’re doing alright.” She muttered to herself. “Wes.”
    Ash, Misty, Red, Daisy and Yellow all sat around is Daisy and Yellow’s room. On Daisy’s side of the room, she and Red were sitting on her bed. On Yellow’s side of the room, she and Misty were sitting. Between them was Ash, who had pulled up the chair and was sitting in it backwards, with his chin leaning up against the headrest.

    “What should we do now?” Daisy asked the rest of the group.

    “I don’t know.” Ash answered. “There’s so much to do here, and yet half the time it feels like there’s nothing to do.”

    “Let’s play a game!” Yellow suggested cheerfully.

    “Like what?” Misty asked her.

    “How about Hide and Seek?”

    “We’ve haven’t played that.” Red pointed out. “How would you even know how to play?”

    Yellow shrugged. “I don’t know. I feel like I used to play it a lot before…” She trailed off for a moment. “I know that I like it and I’m sure that I’m good at it.”

    “We’ll,” Ash said. “I guess that’s good enough for me.”
    * * *​
    “When are you finally going to move on with your plans?” Hunter J asked to the agents of Team Rocket when they all met up for the evening.

    “When we’re ready.” Attila answered her. “Why do you suddenly care?”

    “No reason.” Hunter J replied, almost too quickly. “I’m just getting bored. It seems like you already have all the information you should need for this, and yet you just keep observing rather than acting.”

    “She has a point.” James said. “We already know who all of the strong trainers are and what Pokémon they have, as well as what rare Pokémon are here to take.”

    “I know that.” Attila responded. “But what we need is the right time to strike.”

    “What about tomorrow night?” It was Annie’s turn to speak. “There’s that big fire dancing show being held outside. From what we’ve been able to gather, almost everyone’s going to be attending it. It seems like the perfect opportunity to set our trap. And then the commotion should lure out the few people not watching the show so that we can get them to.”

    “That does sound like a plan.” Attila put his hand to his chin in thought. “How does everyone else feel about that?”

    Jessie, James, Meowth, Hun and Oakley all nodded and voiced their approval.

    “Then we’re all agreed to set our trap at tomorrow’s fire dancing ceremony.” Attila turned to Hunter J. “Does that satisfy you?”

    Hunter J just gave a sly smile and leaned back in her chair. “I’m never satisfied.”
    * * *​
    Ash had been chosen as the first to be ‘it’ in hide and seek, and had already found Misty trying to hide behind a large potted plant just down the hall from where they stared. The group had decided to stick within the hallways and staircases three levels of Daisy and Yellow’s room. Ash and Misty were searching the lowest of the levels for the others. They turned a corner in the hallway and were surprised to find someone else lurking about at the opposite end.

    “I’ve seen her before.” Ash whispered to Misty, not wanting to draw the other person’s attention. “She said her name was… Madame Darhk, I think it was.”

    “What’s she doing?” Misty asked as she pulled Ash back around the corner.

    “She said before that she was looking for something. Maybe she’s still trying to find it?”

    The two peered around the corner.

    “Is she… sniffing the air?” Misty wondered aloud.

    “Yeah.” Ash confirmed. “She’s sniffing around the walls like she’s tracking something be scent.”

    “That’s not normal behavior is it? I mean, I know rich people can be eccentric, but still.”

    Suddenly, Madame Darhk snapped her attention towards their direction. Ash and Misty hid behind the corner.

    “Do you think she noticed us?” Ash asked.

    “I don’t know. But, did it seem like her eyes were glowing to you?”

    ‘Let’s just get out of here.”

    Ash and Misty ran back down the hallway and up the staircase to the next floor up before they finally stopped to catch her breath.

    “I don’t understand.” Ash said between huge breaths. “She seemed perfectly normal before, although with a bit of a temper. But down there she seemed so, so…”

    “Bestial?” Misty suggested.

    “Yeah. Like she wasn’t even human.”

    The two looked at each other.

    “Let’s just try and get back to finding the others and pretend this never happened.” Misty suggested.

    “Agreed.”
    * * *​
    Gary stared out across the ocean, leaning against the guard rail of one of the S.S. Anne’s observation decks.

    “What happened?” He asked himself. “How could I let Ash beet me? I’ve always been the best, ever since we were kids. I mean, sure, Red’s always been pretty close to my level and I’ve always let Daisy take the lead on our group stuff because she’s the oldest, even if it’s only by a few minutes. But Ash…”

    Gary tried his best not to start crying, but the tears came anyway.

    “I’ve always been better than Ash at everything we’ve done. Why was he able to beat me now? I’ve got to be the best and yet… and yet I lost our first battle. What does this mean for the future? Have I not been training hard enough? Have I let Ash reach, or even pass, my level? What the Distortion World is going on?”

    Gary tightened his grip on the railing and he looked up at the clear blue sky above the ocean’s waves.

    “No, I won’t let this happen.” He told himself. “From now on I’ll put in twice the effort, twice the work. By the time we reach the Pokémon League I’ll be so far beyond Ash’s level that he’ll never be able to catch up to me again.”

    In the distance, Gary thought he could make out the form of a large, silver bird-like Pokémon rise from the ocean and dive back in. The young trainer smiled at the beautiful sight of the majestic Pokémon and took it as a sign.

    “I will defeat all in my way to becoming the Pokémon Champion, and from there work my way up even higher until I have become a Pokémon Master!” Gary shouted off across the ocean. “I will achieve my goals, or my name isn’t Gary Bluesea Oak!”
    * * *​
    Ash and Misty had now successfully found both Red and Daisy, but didn’t tell either of them about their earlier encounter.

    “Wow, she wasn’t kidding.” Daisy said in astonishment. “Yellow really is good at this.”

    “We’ve searched the entire area and still haven’t found her.” Red added.

    Ash and Misty both looked nervously at each other while the other two weren’t looking.

    “Well,” Ash started to say, “I guess we could try looking at the lowest floor again.”

    Misty shook her head.

    “We may have overlooked somewhere down there.”

    She shook her head even harder.

    “And with all four of us, we’re bound to find her if she’s down there.”

    Misty was starting to get dizzy from shaking her head when Red and Daisy turned around to face her and she stopped.

    “Sounds good.” Red said.

    The four made their way down to the lowest floor within their game’s boundaries and, much to Ash and Misty’s collective relief, Madame Darhk wasn’t there. The group made their way to the opposite end of the hallway from the staircase they used to get down there when they finally found Yellow hiding behind a large trashcan.

    “It’s about time.” Yellow said. “I was starting to think you forgot about me.”

    “How could we forget about you?” Red asked.

    “Well, it’s been a while and none of you had even been down here until now.”

    Red and Daisy looked over at Ash and Misty.

    “I thought you said you looked down here before you found either of us.” Daisy said.

    “We did…” Ash started to say.

    “I guess we just didn’t look over at this part of the hallway.” Misty interrupted. “We didn’t think anyone would actually be on this floor, so we didn’t look as thoroughly as we should have. Isn’t that right, Ash?” She shot him a strange look.

    “Y-yeah…”

    The other three looked at them inquisitively, but when the two didn’t say anything else, Yellow spoke instead.

    “I guess this means I’m it now. I’ll count to ten and you go hide.”
    Almost all of the S.S. Anne’s passengers gathered around the upper decks just before sunset as a group of fire dancers and their Marowak were preparing for their performance.

    “What’s up with those Marowak?” Ash asked Carmine, as their group sat down in their seats, near the center of the crowd.

    Carmine looked closely at the Bone Keeper Pokémon and saw what Ash was talking about. They were much darker in color than the Marowak native to Kanto, with slimmer bodies and dark markings on their skulls. In addition, they carried longer bones than normal, with ghostly teal flames at each end.

    “I’m not sure.” Carmine answered honestly. “I’ve heard that some Pokémon look different depending on where there from. Maybe that’s it?”

    “According to the brochure, the fire dancers come from the Alola region.” Explained Brock. “Apparently the area is famous for having a lot of unique Pokémon like Marowak.”

    “That’s interesting.” Said Misty. “I wonder what other Pokémon are different there.”

    Someone sitting next to the group shushed them as the show began and the performers began their dance.
    * * *​
    Attila and Hun overlooked the crowd watching the fire dancers from a higher deck. As the performance seemed to reach its climax, Attila raised a radio and spoke into it.

    “It’s time.”

    As the two watched, remote detonated smoke bombs began going off throughout the crowd. Panic and confusion spread among the people from the sudden smoke, which granted the perfect opportunity for the other members of Team Rocket to start steeling Pokémon in the chaos. Attila and Hun moved towards the stairs to join them in the thievery, when they were stopped by Looker and Lance.

    “Where do you think you’re going?” Looker asked them.

    “So you must be some of the International Police agents here to stop us.” Attila calming said to them. “Well, I guess that’s too bad for you, because you’re already too late.”

    Hun threw a smoke bomb onto the ground between the Team Rocket agents and the International Police. As the smoke cleared, Attila and Hun were gone.

    “How’d they do that?” Lance wondered aloud.

    “It doesn’t matter.” Looker said as he turned to go back down to where the crowd was. “We need to help down below.”

    The two ran back down, and passing them going the other way were Red, Daisy and Yellow. The trio was trying to escape the chaos going on below as people moved around in panic. Unfortunately, as the two reached the upper deck, they discovered that Attila and Hun hadn’t fled very far.

    “Well, well, well, who do we have here?” Attila said as the two walked back into the open. “If it isn’t that brat from Mount Moon, and his little friend. And look, he’s got another friend with him.”

    “I’m afraid that you have a bit of a problem.” Said Hun as the kids stopped running. “You see, you managed to get away from my friend here without paying the proper price for getting in our way. And you see, he really doesn’t like it when that happens. So I’m afraid any plans you had for the future are going to have to be cut short. Permanently.”

    Red motioned for the girls to get behind him. Yellow did so, but Daisy stayed firm by his side.

    “I don’t know who you are!” She shouted to the Team Rocket duo. “But you’re dead wrong if you think you can beat us!”

    Laughing at her remark, Attila called out his Skarmory. “So you need your girlfriend to stand up for you now?” He mockingly asked Red. “How about we have a little fight, punk, just you and me.”

    Red pulled a Pokéball up from his waist, but stopped from calling out his Pokémon as Yellow squeezed tightly around his arm.

    “Don’t do this.” She told him. “It’s a trap. Let’s just have Abraham get us out of here.”

    “She has a point.” Daisy agreed. “Despite by bluff, I don’t think we can take these guys on.”

    Red shook his head and took a step forward, raising the Pokéball in front of him. “If I don’t fight him now, he’s just going to find us again, and again. Plus, we need to help protect those down below from having their Pokémon stolen. It’s our duty as Trainers to protect those in need. Now, go Charmeleon!”

    He threw the Pokéball and his starter Pokémon landed on the ground in front of him.

    “Hm.” Attila grunted. “So you’ve gotten stronger since Mount Moon. I guess that’s not really a surprise, but it will make this more interesting just the same. Skarmory! Pulverize that overgrown lizard with Steel Wing!”

    Skarmory flew up and dove down towards Charmeleon, its wings glowing in white light that seemed to make its feathers expand in length. Charmeleon countered by breathing an Ember at the Armor Bird Pokémon. The attack hit Skarmory directly in the face, forcing the bird to stop its attack. Charmeleon followed up the attack with another Ember, this one hitting Skarmory in the chest. Skarmory let out a Metal Sound to disorient Charmeleon and lower its defense, to which Charmeleon responded with another Ember. Skarmory sent out a volley of Swift. The white star-like energy projectiles twisted their trajectory to avoid the Ember attacks that Charmeleon used to try and stop the Swift, and struck him down. Some of the Embers struck Skarmory and forced it down to the ground. This allowed Charmeleon to launch another Ember at the Steel-type, causing Skarmory to collapse.

    “What?” Attila muttered in shock before regaining his composure. “Why you little-”

    “Attila!” Hun called out to his partner. Attila tried to turn to see what the other was calling him for, only realize that ice was slowly crawling up his legs and freezing him in place.

    “What the?”

    “I hope you weren’t planning on hurting those kids.” Lorelei said as she walked up to them alongside her Jynx. She then turned to Red and the others. “If you’re going to flee, then do so now. Otherwise I suggest you go back now and help the others.”
    * * *​
    Hunter J smirked as she watched the panic going on outside via her drone’s camera. It was definitely a much less tactical approach than she would have gone with, but it looked like they were getting the job done all the same. She stood up and walked towards the door so that she could join the others in steeling Pokémon, because after all, she wasn’t going to let them have all the fun. But when she opened the door, Hunter J was greeted by an unexpected visitor standing there.

    “You!” Madame Darhk almost literally growled at Hunter J.

    “Do I know you?” Hunter J asked as she down towards the various Pokéballs hung around her belt.

    “YOU TOOK MY SON!” Madame Darhk shrieked in reply. “GIVE HIM BACK!”

    Madame Darhk lunged at Hunter J, only to be repelled by the Ariados that the Pokémon Hunter had just released from its Net Ball.

    “I’m afraid I don’t know what you’re talking about.” Hunter J said in a relaxed voice, as if this were not an unusual occurrence. “I only take humans if I intend to hold them for ransom, and I’m not currently holding anybody. So, unless you’re a Poké- wait a minute.”

    Hunter J pressed a button on the side of her visor to activate its Aura Vision mode and then began to laugh.

    “Okay then. I guess I do remember you. It was three years ago now, if I remember correctly, in the Lostlorn Forest of Unova.” She held up a Premier Ball in a taunting fashion. “I’m afraid your little pup here has become one of the prized jewels of my collection, so to speak. I don’t intent on giving him up anytime soon, Zaroark. Although I must saw, your human is impeccable for a Pokémon. I think the only other I’ve heard speak as well is that Meowth with Team Rocket. Of course, I plan on taking him from them as well when I get the chance.”

    “You’re a monster.” Madame Darhk seemed to slowly melt away into her true form, the Illusion Fox Pokémon. “Now give me back my son!”

    Zoroark knocked Ariados away with a Night Slash, but the Long Leg Pokémon landed feet first onto the wall and was able to strike back with a Night Shade.

    “Must I repeat myself?” Hunter J said. “Your Zorua is mine now, and I’m not giving him back to you.”
    The Zoroark that had formerly been Madame Darhk glared intently at Hunter J.

    “I said GIVE ME BACK MY SON!” She howled. “I wasn’t giving you a choice!”

    The Dark-type Pokémon jumped out of the way of a String Shot from Hunter J’s Ariados and raised her arms above her head. Her eyes began to glow brightly as a dark aura surrounded her. Zoroark then launched the dark aura at Ariados in a Night Daze attack. Ariados tried to strike back with Fell Stinger, but Zoroark disappeared for a moment only to appear right next to the Bug-type and hit it with a Feint Attack, knocking Ariados away. Zoroark followed up the attack with a barrage of Feint Attacks until Ariados fainted and collapsed onto the ground.

    In a fury, Zoroark turned back to Hunter J, only to find that she had fled during the fight. Turning to face the Ariados again revealed that it too was gone. Zoroark lifted her head back and gave an anguished cry. Her son’s captor had evaded her, and her chances of reuniting with him suddenly felt lost. Regardless, she ran down the hallway, making a mad dash on all four legs, in the desperate hope of finding her son again.
    * * *​
    Ash, Misty, Carmine and Brock huddled together trying not to get in the way of people running around in the confusion created by the smoke. But then suddenly the smoke was cleared away in a sudden gust of wind. The four looked over to see where the wind had come from to see a Honchkrow flying in the air. The Big Boss Pokémon then flew down and perched on the outstretched arm of an distinguished looking old man with a thick gray mustache and wearing a tan colored three-piece suit and bowler hat.

    “That ought to do the trick.” The man said as the people around started to calm down. “Although, I’m curious as to where that smoke came from in the first place.”

    With the smoke cleared, Ash turned to face the others just in time to see a woman reaching for the Pokéballs around Carmine’s belt. He was just about to warn Carmine, Sneasel came out of its Pokéball and slashed her across her face as Carmine reached down and grabbed her by the wrist.

    “And what do you think you’re doing?” He looked down at the woman and recognition donned on him. “Wait a minute, I know you.”

    “No you don’t.” The woman said as she tried to pull away while holding her cut cheek, which was starting to bleed lightly.

    “Yes I do. I saw you and your sister before but couldn’t quite place you. But now that I see you up close I know exactly where I know you from. Your name’s Oakley right. You joined Team Rocket with your sister right before I left. I helped you two in your recruitment training.

    “I don’t know what you’re talking about.” Oakley insisted as she managed to slip her wrist out of Carmine’s grasp. “I was just reaching down to grab something I dropped and then your Pokémon attacked me out of nowhere. Keep that thing under control!” She mimed picking something off of the ground, but it was clear that there was nothing there.

    “No you weren’t.” Carmine said. “Besides, he barely grazed you.”

    “I saw you reaching right for his Pokémon.” Ash added.

    Oakley froze as a crowd was forming around them, trying to see what was going on. But then a large shadow passed over the crowd, pulling everyone’s attention away to see the Salamence flying overhead. Oakley used the opportunity to run away, meeting up with Annie at the other end of the deck.

    “That was close.” Annie said to her sister. “You’re lucky you managed to get away.”

    “Luck had nothing to do with it.” Hunter J said as she ran up to the two. “That was sloppy of you. Now come on, were leaving.”

    “But what about the others? We can’t just leave them in the middle of this.” Annie asked.

    “Forget them. If they want to stay here and get caught, that’s Team Rocket’s problem. But as of our agreement last week, you don’t work for Team Rocket anymore, you work for me. And as your new boss, I’m ordering you leave those weaklings behind as we make our getaway.”

    “Don’t think you’re getting away that easily!” Wes and Rui ran up to stop the trio. Wes had his Espeon and Umbreon out and ready to attack.

    “We don’t have time for this.” Hunter J said, and suddenly the Salamence flying around launched a Hyper Beam in front of Wes and Rui before landing besides Hunter J. The attack scorched the floor in front of the two and prevented them from continuing their pursuit.

    “Come on, this is our ride.” Hunter J said as she climbed onto the Dragon Pokémon’s back. Annie and Oakley followed suit and they flew away from the S.S. Anne.

    Wes clenched his fists tightly as he watched them get away, a look of intense anger on his face.

    “Woah,” Rui said as she saw Wes’ reaction, “there’s no need to be that angry.” Rui said in concern for her friend. “So what if a few got away, we can still get the others.”

    “That’s not what my problem is.” Wes said as he headed back towards the crowd, which was beginning to thin out as people went back to their rooms.

    “Then what is?” Rui asked as she dashed to catch up to him.

    “Never mind, right now. It’s not important anymore. As you said, there are more we need to help catch.”
    * * *​
    Seeing what was happening with the others, Jessie, James and Meowth decided that it was best to just lay low and sneak away from the crowd rather than risk making a scene by trying to steel any more Pokémon. They just needed to get away with what they already managed to get.

    “Who even teaches their Pokémon how to use Defog?” James muttered to himself as they walked back inside. “That move is almost completely useless is most situations.”

    “Well, it came in handy for them this time.” Jessie replied.

    “Yeahs, unfortunately for us.” Meowth whispered as he tried to keep up with the other two. “It might be better for one of yous ta carrys me, I can’t go very fast on all fours anymore.”

    Jessie picked up Meowth and tried to stay in character by holding the Scratch Cat Pokémon like he was a baby.

    “This’s humiliatin’.”

    “Quite now, Meowth can’t talk.” Jessie whispered nervously between clenched teeth in a tone that could be mistaken for someone talking to a baby if they weren’t really listening to her words.

    The three made their way back out on the other end of the deck. This was the agreed upon rendezvous point, but no one else was there yet.

    “I suppose Attila and Huna are the only others still here at this point.” Jessie observed.

    “But what do we do now?” James asked.

    “I guess we just wait here for them so that we can make are getaway.”

    “It would have been nice if they had actually told us how were supposed to get off of here.” James complained.

    “I suppose they wanted to make sure we couldn’t leave without them. It’s hard to work with people as secretive as those two.”

    “And yet they ain’t the ones what left us here.” Meowth chimed in, then pointed up to the sky. “Hey, wait a minute! Are they’s comin’ back for us?”

    Jessie and James looked up and saw that indeed, Hunter J’s Salamence was flying back towards the ship.

    “I knew they wouldn’t leave me behind!” Jessie declared excitedly. “Girls got to stick together, after all.”

    “Something doesn’t seem right though…” James said.

    As Salamence reached the cruise ship, suddenly it opened its mouth and let out a huge Flamethrower, scorching the hull of the ship.

    “What’s going on?” Jessie panicked.

    “Are they’s tryin’ ta kill us?”

    “Quick, let’s get inside before they fly back and strike again!” James yelled as he started to run away, but Jessie pulled him back.

    “Don’t be dense, you can’t just run towards the fire!” She yelled at him. “Besides, who knows what kind of damage that did to the inside of the ship. We’re better off staying here.”
    As Jessie, James and Meowth tried to figure out what to do with the sudden fire aboard the S.S. Anne, Hun walked out from the smoke, limping towards them. His clothes were scorched and his flesh was burned. The three also noticed that Hun’s legs and boots were strangely wet.

    “Are you alright?” James called out to the injured Hun.

    “I’ll be fine.” He grunted out as he reached the trio. “It’s nothing that time won’t heal.”

    “But where’s Attila?” Asked Jessie. “Is he alright?”

    “He’ll be here shortly. He just has something else he needs to do first.”

    Hun sat down on a box to rest and the group of four waited for their fifth member to arrive.
    * * *​
    Red, Yellow and Daisy frantically ran away from the blazing fire that had suddenly erupted from where Hunter J’s Salamence had attacked the ship. They made their way towards the life rafts, like everyone else on board was doing, but then suddenly Yellow stopped.

    “We need to keep going!” Red warned as he turned back to face her.

    “We can’t!” Yellow pleaded. “Maggie’s still back in our room! We need to go back for her.”

    “Looking for this?” All three turned around to see who had spoken, and were not happy to see who it was.

    Attila was standing there. His clothes were damaged from the fire, one of the lenses of Attila’s sunglasses was shattered and his boots were still yet from the ice Lorelei had trapped him in earlier. In his hand, he clutched the tail of a flailing Magikarp.

    “Maggie!” Yellow yelled to her Pokémon, then turned to its captor. “Let her go!”

    “If you insist.” Attila held Maggie out over the railing and began loosening his grip to drop the Pokémon into the ocean. He laughed at the girl’s distraught reaction, but then stopped when an Abra appeared in front of him. Abraham spun around in midair and smacked Attila across the face with his tail. Unfortunately, the shock of the blow caused Attila to lose his grip completely. Maggie slipped from his fingers and fell off the side of the boat into the ocean.

    “No!” Yellow screamed as she ran to the railing to see her Pokémon plummet into the sea.

    Red knelt down besides Yellow and put his hand on her shoulder to reassure the girl. “Don’t worry. Maggie’s a fish. She’ll be just fine until we can find her again.” He then stood back up and faced Attila. “As for you on the other hand, I can’t make the same promise.”

    Attila just laughed at Red’s threat and pulled a smoke bomb from his pocket. He threw it to the ground and by the time the smoke had cleared, Attila had walked off in the direction of the fire, already too far for the trainers to safely follow him.

    “Come on,” Daisy said as she grabbed Yellow by the hand. “Let’s get to a life boat. I’m sure Maggie will be waiting for us.”
    * * *​
    After the fire started, Looker’s team shifted their attention away from trying to find Team Rocket, instead focusing on helping the ship’s crew get all of the passengers to safety. They were guiding people make their way to the lifeboats, while advising those with Pokémon to Surf or Fly away if they could, so that they could make more room for those who couldn’t. Lorelei had her Pokémon create an ice platform off the side of the ship, which Lance’s Dragon Pokémon were flying people onto.

    “Shouldn’t someone be working on putting out the fire?” Rui yelled to the others.

    “I’m on it!” Wes shouted back and started running over to where the inferno was continuing to increase in size and intensity. He pulled out an Ultra Ball as he ran, calling out the Pokémon that was held inside. “Go, Suicune!”

    The majestic Legendary Beast of Water emerged from the Ultra ball in a full gallop and fired a spray of Hydro Pump from its mouth. The crystal clear water washed over the flames and subdued them. Soon other trainers sent out their Pokémon to help put out the fire as well.

    “He has a Suicune?” Lorelei asked, dumbfounded. “Where did he get that?”

    “I actually forgot he had that.” Rui chuckled lightly. “He has an Entei and Raikou, too. They were some of the Shadow Pokémon we captured and purified last year.”

    “That’s amazing.” Lance said in awe. “Having one Legendary Pokémon is impressive enough, but three? That’s almost completely unheard of.”

    Looker cleared his throat, reminding the others to get back to work helping people off the ship.
    * * *​
    “Here he comes now!” Hun announced as the limping figure of Attila became visible as a silhouette highlighted by the flames he was walking away from.

    Jessie and James ran over to the injured Attila and helped walk over to where Meowth and Hun were still waiting. They set the large man down on a box beside the one Hun was resting on so that he could rest for a moment as well.

    “I guess it’s time to call this mission a loss.” Attila grumbled as he reached into his jacket pocket and pulled out a radio. He pressed the talk button and held it up to his mouth. “This is Attila. Commence evacuation protocol. I repeat, commence evacuation protocol. Get here as fast as you can, over.”

    “So, what now?” Jessie asked, somewhat frantic. “How are we supposed to get off of this burning ship?”

    “I just called for a ship to come pick us up.” Attila explained, then looked over to the fire. “Hopefully they can get here in time.”

    “I can’t believe the others would have betrayed us like that.” James commented.

    “I can.” Attila replied. “I just can’t believe I didn’t see it coming.”

    They all stood in silence for a moment as they waited for their getaway to arrive. Eventually that silence was broken when Meowth noticed a drop of water land on his head, followed by another.

    “Is it rainin’?” He asked.

    “Someone must have had their Pokémon use Rainy Day to help with the fire.” Hun said as he held one of his hands out to feel the rain drops coming down. “Smart tactic.”

    The rain quickly went from a light sprinkle to pouring down hard, and the area became increasingly dark as black clouds filled the previously clear blue sky. The fire had almost completely been put out at this point by the combined efforts of the trainers and their Pokémon working to extinguish it, and the rain finished up their job quickly.

    “I don’t think this is just Rainy Day.” James said as the rain started to come down harder. “This feels more like a storm.”

    Just as he said that, a bolt of lightning came down from the sky, the deafening sound of thunder echoing throughout the ship.

    “Something ain’t right here.” Meowth said worriedly. “Dat definitely ain’t a Rain Dance causin’ dis.”

    The storm worsened as huge waved crashed against the hull of the S.S. Anne. A whirlpool suddenly formed off the starboard side of the ship, from which a mighty figure emerged.

    “Shadow Force.” Attila cursed in a low tone that the others couldn’t hear over the loud winds. “I didn’t realize that Magikarp was about to evolve.”

    Water rushed down the sides of the Atrocious Pokémon as Gyarados glared down at Team Rocket, ready to attack them.

    “I’m here.” The unmistakable monotone voice of Agent Masque came from over the radio Attila was still clutching in his hand. “Jump off the port bow.”

    She didn’t need to tell them twice, as the group made a mad dash to get away from Maggie’s wrath as the Pokémon readied a Hydro Pump to blast at them. But as they ran, another Gyarados rose up from the water, followed by another and another until a dozen wild Gyarados surrounded the ship, much larger and more powerful than the freshly evolved Maggie.

    “And it’s attracted the attention of a nearby school of them.”

    The newly arrived Gyarados began swimming in a clockwise circle around the S.S. Anne in preparation for one of their dreaded Dragon Rage attacks. Maggie tried to stop the others, but she was too weak to stop even one of the toughened elder Gyarados from performing their move. Trainers from the aboard the ship sent out their strongest Pokémon to try and stop the Gyarados, but it was already too late. Once a school of Gyarados begins their group Dragon Rage, they become an unstoppable force that only the strongest of Legendary Pokémon could interfere with. Even the mighty Thunder of Wes’ powerful Raikou couldn’t even faze the twelve Gyarados.
    “Can you believe it?” Ash wondered aloud in shock. “We were all having a good time and then… all of that, one thing right after another.”

    Ash, Misty, Brock and Carmine were all sitting on the back of a Lapras, slowly drifting away from the S.S. Anne.

    “I’m never going on another boat as long as I live.” Brock said.

    “I’m just glad I have my trusty Lapras here to ferry us away.” Misty sighed. “Everyone has all of their stuff, right? If we left anything behind, we can’t exactly go back for it. It’s extremely hard to stop a single rampaging Gyarados and I don’t think anything could stop twelve of them at once.”

    “There are advantages to just keeping all of your stuff in your bag with you at all times.” Carmine added. “It lets you leave anywhere at any time without having to worry about that. Not that it’s much comfort right now with this going on. I just hope everyone else ends up all right.”

    “Do you think we should head back?” Ash asked the others. “See if we can help anyone?”

    “Looker’s team were already working on that and I’m sure they have it mostly under control.” Carmine answered. “Or at least, no less under control than it would be if we were still there. I know this is hard to think about, but you can’t help anyone if you can’t help yourself. Even though helping others is important, you need to look out for yourself first.”

    “You right.” Brock said. “That is hard to think about. I don’t think I can agree with that philosophy.”

    “We can’t Surf back there anyway.” Misty pointed out. “The storm is making the water to dangerous.”

    “Where’d you get a Lapras, anyway?” Carmine asked the Water-type specialist. “Aren’t these things supposed to be really rare and almost impossible to find?”

    “She was a gift from my mentor. She raises them as a hobby and gave me this one. ” Misty stroked the head of the Transport Pokémon’s head. “She’s not much for battling, but she’s a great Surfer and a good companion for long trips.”

    The Lapras neighed back happily at the compliment, then returned to seriousness as she tried to make her way through the storm. Though the storm quickly seemed to fade away.

    “Hey!” Ash shouted while looking back at towards the S.S. Anne. “It looks like there’s something going on back there.”

    Misty turned her Lapras around and the others noticed it as well.

    “What is that?” Brock asked.

    “I don’t know.” Carmine answered seriously.
    * * *​
    After Red had defeated Attila’s Skarmory, Abraham had teleported away to get Pikachu in case Team Rocket would try anything else. Unfortunately they had been to late in returning to stop Attila from taking Maggie and they were all now paying the consequences. Pikachu watched in horror as the Gyarados continued circling the ship.

    “This is it. There’s nothing more I can do.” Pikachu said to herself, trying her hardest not cry from despair. “I’ve failed in protecting her. My only hope is that Abraham can safely teleport her away from here and that he will continue to protect her in my place. And here I thought ‘he’ was the only one that I truly needed to protect her from.”

    It was then that Pikachu noticed that the rain had stopped falling. Not that it had stopped raining, but that the individual raindrops had stopped in midair.

    “No!” Pikachu felt even more dread seep in as she looked around. The Gyarados had also stopped, encased in a faint purple glow. The people onboard the ship, their Pokémon, everything. It was almost as if time itself was being held in place by some immeasurable power. A force strong enough to seemingly control reality itself. “It can’t be.”

    Only Pikachu was still capable of movement and, she knew, Yellow would also be unaffected by this power. Pikachu ran to find Yellow and, sure enough, the girl was looking around trying to figure out what was happening. The girl grabbed Red by the arm to try and break him out of the spell and, much to Pikachu’s surprise, it worked.

    “What’s going on?” Red wondered aloud as he was brought back into motion.

    “I’m scared.” Yellow hugged Red tightly, her arms squeezing Red’s waist. “I don’t know what’s going on, and I feel… I feel…”

    “What do you feel?” Red held one arm around Yellow’s back and rested the other on her head, trying to comfort the girl.

    “I feel something coming. No, someone. I don’t know who or what it is, but I feel… terror.”

    “Nothing will happen to you.” Red said gently. “I’ll make sure of it.”

    Pikachu watched the emotional scene as it happened below her. Pikachu knew now that letting the boy protect her was the right choice. In fact it looked as if it was the only right choice that she had made. She was about to hop down to great Yellow, that they could have at least one last moment together before the end. But it was too late.

    Pikachu felt his presence first, then caught a glimpse of movement descending from above her. Yellow did the same, with Red looking up to see what the girl was looking at. The three all saw the same dark, cloaked figure fall gently from the storm onto the upper-most point of the wrecked ship.

    “You will not harm the girl.” His voice rang clear throughout the entire scene as he spoke to the Gyarados. Yet despite this, his mouth did not move, for he did not speak at all. Thoughts were projected straight from the mind of the powerful psychic. “She is mine, and mine alone. And now that I have found her, no one will harm her ever again. No one will use us again. We will finally be free at last.”

    “Who do you think he’s talking about?” Yellow asked in a low whisper, trying not to attract the stranger’s attention.

    “I think he means you.” Red replied, equally quite.

    “Yes, I mean the girl.” The hooded figure floated down to where the two were standing. “Now, you will give her to me.”

    Pikachu fired a Thunder attack at the stranger, who raised his arm up and absorbed the lightning bolt into its hand. In the process his hand slipped out from under the sleeve of his cloak, revealing three long, gray fingers with bulbous tips.

    “What are you?” Red asked.

    “Give me the girl!” The stranger reiterated.

    “I don’t want to go with you!” Yellow screamed at the cloaked figure.

    “Yes, you do. You just do not know it right now due to your absence of memory.”

    “No. You feel… bad. You are bad! You’re the reason I lost my memory, aren’t you?!”

    The stranger slowly lowered his hand down again as it became apparent that Pikachu would not try another useless attack. He was silent for a moment before finally saying: “It was an accident. I did not mean to harm you, but they had to pay for what they had done. For what they would do. Now, come with me.”

    “She said she doesn’t want to.” Red walked out in front of Yellow, as if shielding her with his own body.

    “Silence, boy!” The stranger thrust out his hand and Red was lifted up into the air by a psychic grasp around his throat.

    “No!!!” Yellow couldn’t bear to see her friend in trouble and dashed out towards the stranger, tackling him to get him to stop strangling Red. This didn’t knock him down, but it did surprise him enough that he released his grip on Red, who fell back to the floor.

    “What are you doing?”

    “I’m protecting my friend from you, monster!” Yellow held out her arms in defiance against the mysterious cloaked figure. Red had been protecting and saving her ever since they met, and it was her turn to return the favor.

    “I see now that your mind has become poisoned with misconceptions and lies. I will have to correct that.”

    “How many times do we have to tell you?” Red asked as he managed to get to his feet. “She’s not going with you.”

    “Silence!” The mysterious stranger lifted his hand towards Red to choke him again.

    “NO!” Yellow held out both of her arms towards the stranger and a white light radiated from her, spreading around her entire body and engulfing the entire ship and everything around it.
    The first thing Red noticed was the feel of the sand beneath him, followed by the sound of waves crashing against the shore. He slowly opened his eyes and sat up, to find that he was on what appeared to be a small deserted island. Beside him was Yellow, who was also just waking up.

    “Where are we?” She asked as she got up. “What happened?”

    “I’m not sure.” Red had to grab his forehead due to a throbbing headache. “The last thing I remember was…” He tried to think. “The S.S. Anne was on fire, and then it there was a storm. I think… Some Gyarados showed up and were going to destroy the ship?”

    “I remember that. And that mean guy from the mountain tossed Maggie away.” Tears started to well up in Yellow’s eyes.

    “That’s right. The Gyarados must have wrecked the ship and we washed up here.”

    “I’m never going to see Maggie again, am I?” The tears started flowing down hard as Yellow cried. Red hugged her tightly to comfort the girl.

    “You don’t have to worry about that.” The two quickly turned around to find the source of the new voice. Behind the, was a large rock, roughly 20 feet in height and shaped almost like a giant fang. At the base of the rock was a small cave, inside which they could faintly see a small figure standing there. “Your Gyarados was the one who brought you here. She should still be swimming around the island.”

    Just then, Red and Yellow heard the sound of something emerging from the water and they turned around to see a Gyarados waiting there.

    “Maggie!” Yellow hopped to her feet and ran over to her Pokémon. Red followed her as the girl hugged her first Pokémon, her arms not even reaching half way along the massive Pokémon’s thick body. Red handed Maggie’s empty Pokéball to Yellow, who took it and recalled Maggie back into it. “I’m never letting you out of my sight again!”

    “It’s always nice to see such happy reunions.” Said the figure in the cave.

    Red turned back to see the person again, just in time to see the entire cave lit up by a blue lightning bolt. The lightning was being held by the person in the cave like a staff or walking stick, its light revealing the man’s features. But he wasn’t a man.

    “You’re a…” Red was dumbfounded. “You’re a Pikachu?”

    The Electric Mouse Pokémon chuckled, his voice being surprisingly deep for something of his small size. “Yes, I am a Pikachu. But I’m not a normal Pikachu as I’m sure you can tell.”

    The Pikachu walked out of the cave and into the sunlight, allowing Red and yellow to get a closer look at him.

    “You’re cheeks are blue.” Yellow noticed. “And your ears and stripes to.”

    “A Pikachu with blue markings…” Red muttered to himself. “That sounds familiar…”

    “I should hope so.” The Pikachu laughed again. “Otherwise that would mean that your kind have stopped telling the stories of my exploits. For you see, I am…” The Pikachu paused for dramatic effect. “Pikoa! Guardian of the Seas!”
    * * *​
    “I think I’m starting to get seasick.” Brock groaned.

    “We’re almost to land.” Replied Misty. “I’m sure of it.”

    “How many hours have we been out here?” Ash asked aloud.

    “I’m telling you we’re almost there!”

    “I think I see something!” Carmine stood up and lost his balance, almost falling off the Lapras.

    “Sit down!” Misty yelled at him. “And I see it too. The shore’s just up ahead.”

    Lapras surfed towards the land and eventually the group were able to make their way onto a sandy beach overlooked by a steep cliff.

    “Not ideal.” Brock said. “But it’s better than being on the water for any longer.”

    “How are we supposed to get up there?” Ash asked the others as Misty recalled her Lapras.

    “I thought you were supposed to be an expert climber.” Carmine pointed out. “It’s the one thing you’ve always been good at.”

    “That doesn’t mean I can scale a thirty foot cliff!”

    “How about we just go over there?” Misty pointed down the shore, where the cliff steadily sloped down to shore-level.

    “Right. I knew that was there.” Brock said a little too defensively.”
    * * *​
    “How do we get back to land?” Red asked Pikoa.

    “You’re on land.” The unusual Pikachu pointed out. “But if you want to get back to the mainland, I can help you out. Just ride your Gyarados across the ocean, I can guide you.”

    Obediently, Yellow pulled out Maggie’s Pokéball and tossed it out over the ocean. Maggie dove into the water and surfaced again by the shoreline. Red lifted Yellow up onto Maggie’s back and then climbed on himself. He then held a hand out to help Pikoa get on, but the Pikachu instead ran out to the waves and leapt out onto the water. He seemed to slide along the surface as if her were surfing as a wave formed below him that seemed to follow his will.

    Pikoa surfed a lap around Maggie, who was slowly swimming away from shore. As he went out in front of her, he gestured back for Maggie to follow him, which she did. They made their way across the ocean at breakneck speed until they finally reached the shore. Red and Yellow climbed off of Maggie onto a long section of some kind of boardwalk.

    “If memory serves,” Pikoa scratched his chin, “This is what you humans would know as Route 13. If you head north you should reach Lavender Town, south will lead you Fuchsia and west should take you to… Vermilion, I think.”

    “Thanks for your help!” Yellow called back to him.

    “Yes, thank you.” Red added. “I don’t know what we would have done without you.”

    “It was no trouble at all!” Pikoa nodded back to them. “It’s just nice to get company once in a while. Until we meet again, humans!”

    Pikoa surfed away while Red and Yellow waved in goodbye. When he had left, the two turned around and made their way north to Lavender.

    “I used to hear stories of Pikoa when I was young.” Red commented as they walked. “But I always thought they were just old myths. He’d have to be thousands of years old at this point.”

    “What kind of stories were they?” Yellow asked inquisitively.

    “Mostly stories about a surfing Pikachu who could control the waves and carried as staff of lightning. He would go around helping fishers and sailors when they were lost at sea. But those stories are thousands of years old. He certainly matches the descriptions given in those old stories, but he’d have to be ancient.”

    Red let out a depressed sigh, which caught yellow’s attention.

    “What’s wrong?”

    “I’m worried about my mom.” Red answered with sincerity. “She’s probably worrying herself sick right now, and I mean that literally. I need to find a phone.”

    “But don’t you have one of those PokéGear things like what Daisy has?”

    “I wish.”
    * * *​
    Ash’s group made their way along the shore until they managed to reach the end of the cliff, then decided to walk up the cliff to get a better viewpoint to figure out where they were. To their surprise there was actually a small town at the top of the cliff.

    “I’ve heard of this place.” Brock said. “This is Maiden’s Peak.”

    “How do you know that?” Ash asked him.

    Brock pointed to a statue of a woman situated at the center of the cliff’s peak, overlooking the ocean.

    “The town is named for that statue, which is said to hold the spirit of a young woman who waited for her lover to return from an ancient war long ago. They say that she waited, standing there, for her lover’s boat to return from the war. But the boat never returned, so she waited until her body eventually turned to stone.”

    “I wonder if the boat was destroyed by Gyarados?” Ash mused.

    “It wouldn’t surprise me.” Misty said. “Gyarados are renowned for their legendary tempers. Boats thses days have to be specifically designed not to attract them.”

    “Then I wonder what caught the attention of the ones who attacked the S.S. Anne?”

    “We may never know.” Carmine said seriously. “Though I’m more curious about what that white flash was right before we were blown away from the ship.”

    “I just hope everyone else mad it.” Ash hung his head down.

    “I’m sure their all just fine.” Misty reassured Ash, though she didn’t really believe her own words. “Some of the best trainers in the area were on that ship. I’m sure they managed to get everyone to safety.”
    Gary woke up in an unfamiliar hospital room, looking up at a plain, white ceiling. “Where am I?” He muttered as he sat up.

    “Nice to see that you’re finally awake.” Kat stood up from the chair beside Gary’s bed that he had been sitting in.

    “What happened?” Gary asked his cousin.

    “The ship went down. No one knows exactly what happened, but they found all of us washed up on the shoreline near Route 11. We’re in a hospital in Vermilion right now. I heard that they’ve had to get doctors from all over the region here to treat everyone.”

    “Where are the others? Is Daisy alright?” Fear was starting to sound in his normally prideful voice.

    Kat pointed to the next bed over. Gary looked over to where she was pointing and saw that Daisy was lying unconscious in the bed.

    “The doctor said that she has a mild concussion and a few minor injuries here and there, but that she’s in fairly good shape. Apparently everyone is in pretty good shape considering what happens, but that just adds more confusion as to what actually did happen. Kat sat back down again. “By the way, Mal, Sue and Ciel are all over in the waiting room. Ali and Cleo are on their way home to Pallet. They said that they can’t put up with this anymore.”

    “What about Ash? Red?”

    “I’m afraid that no one’s seen them.” Kat looked down to the ground. “They weren’t with the rest of us when we were found. Lorelei of the Elite Four said that Ash and his traveling companions should be fine. She saw them riding off on a Lapras which she was adamant would be able to take them safely through even the worst storms. They probably just made their way to a different shore then the rest of us. We don’t know about Red or the girl he was with though.”

    “I feel like I’m largely responsible for what happened to that girl.” A doctor who had just entered the room. “I was the one who signed off to let her go with him.” The doctor forced a smile, which years of practice made sure looked completely genuine, and turned to Gary. “Hello, my name is Doctor Sallow and I will be overseeing your recovery. How are you feeling, today?”

    “My entire body feels sore and I have a bad headache.” Gary complained.

    “I’m sorry to hear that.” Doctor Sallow said while checking the clipboard hanging from the end of Gary’s bed.

    “Do you have any idea when my sister will wake up?” Gary looked over to the unconscious Daisy.

    “She should be waking up any moment now, actually.” The Doctor said as he put the clipboard down and turned towards the girl.

    Sure enough, Daisy’s eyes flickered open as she slowly became aware of her surroundings.

    “What happened? Where am I?” She asked as she sat up and raised one of her hands up to her forehead.
    * * *​
    David Oak set his phone back onto its receiver and looked up. He was sitting at his desk in his home office back in Pallet Town. Sitting in the many chairs that lined the room were friends and family. They all waited with baited breath.

    “That was the hospital.” David announced. “Gary and Daisy are both awake and fine, but I’m afraid there’s still no sign of the others.”

    The members of the Oak family and most of their close friends that were there all gave a collective sigh of relief. The two women who were sitting off to the side of the room, however, still looked depressed. Delia Ketchum tried her hardest to remain calm with the situation for the benefit of the other woman, and overall was doing a fairly good job of keeping her composure. She placed a comforting arm around the woman that was sitting in the seat beside her, who was taking the news, or rather the lack of news, much harder than Delia was.

    Sariah Redwood was a rather frail woman. Ever since her ex-boyfriend left her almost eleven years ago and she was left to raise their son on her own, Sariah’s health had been in a constant and continuous state of decline. Over the years she had been reduced to little more than skin and bones, with a sickly pale complexion. She also had coughing fits that she was normally been able to keep relatively under control, but had recently started to become more and more frequent with time.

    Unlike some of the others in Pallet Town, Sariah was not a particularly wealthy person, and her medical expenses would have outright bankrupted her long ago if were not for the generosity of Delia and the Oaks, who were willing to pay her medical bills for her. But even so, life was an uphill battle for Sariah, until recently when her health had finally started to balance out. But now the stress of current events was quickly undoing any progress she had made and if anything she was now in worse shape than ever.

    “Red will be just fine.” Delia reassured Sariah.

    “I’m sure he probably just ended up on another beach and is looking for a phone right now to let you know he’s fine.” Professor Oak added.

    “Thank you. That means a lot to me.” Sarah said between her crying and a few coughs.

    The phone rang again and David picked it up almost instantly. His eyes grew wide as the person calling started to speak and a live video of the caller popped up on the phone console’s display.

    “Yes, she’s right here.” He spoke into the phone. “Hold on a moment, I’m going to put you on speaker.”

    David pressed a button on the console and turned it around so that the others could see who it was.

    “Hi, Mom!” Red called out over the phone. “I called home but there was no answer. I figured this was the next best number to call. I’m doing just fine!”

    Sariah instantly started to feel better at the sight of her son, alive and safe. She let out another cough before greeting him in return.

    “I’m so glad you’re okay, Samuel.”

    “Hi, Red’s Mom!” Yellow came into view of the screen and waved at the screen on the phone they were calling from until Red pointed her to the camera.

    “Who’s that?” Sariah asked in confusion.

    “Oh, right.” Red embarrassment was made clear by the expression on his face. ”I keep forgetting to call and let you what’s going on. This is Yellow.”

    Red told them the story of his adventures since leaving Pallet Town. He was fairly detailed for the most part of his story, but he did make sure not to mention their meeting with Pikoa. He wasn’t quite sure what to make of that encounter, so he thought it would be best not to mention it to anyone yet.

    “And so we made our wayup north to the Route 12 Gateway, which is where we’re calling from using a payphone. The way to Vermilion was blocked by a sleeping Snorlax, and they’re know to sleep for days on end, so we’re going to head up to Lavender Town next.”

    “Well, be safe.” His mother replied. “And make sure to check in more often.”

    “And if you see Ash, tell him to call in more, too!” Delia added, confident that if Red and Yellow had made it to safety, that her son and his friends would too.

    “I will. Goodbye!” Red waved to the screen as he reached over to end the call.

    “Bye!” Yellow added just before the call ended.

    “Well that certainly puts a heavy weight off of all of us.” David said as he turned the phone back to its normal position. “It’s good to know Samuel is alright.”

    “Although I am a bit curious about that girl, Yellow.” Professor Oak stroked his thin thoughtfully. “I can’t shake the feeling that I’ve seen her somewhere before, but I can’t seem to place her anywhere. That’s why I didn’t bring it up.”

    “I suppose it’s only natural that Red would be good with taking care of people like that.” Sariah said. “After all, sometimes it felt like he was taking care of me as much as I taking care of him when he was growing up.”
    After awaking on land with no memory of how she got there, Zoroark made her way north. The Dark-type Pokémon was succumbing to fatigue and had no idea where she was going or how she would get there, but she was determined to get there.

    She started moving at a sprint, but eventually had to slow down to walking, and then she had to crawl. Eventually she was just dragging herself across the ground as she reached a heavily wooded area that reminded her of somewhat of her home. It was at this point that whatever little strength she had left was gone and she blacked out for a while.
    * * *​
    Built around Maiden’s Peak was a small town called Maiden’s Village, which was currently celebrating its annual Summer Festival, as Ash and his companions soon learned after entering the village. Paper lanterns and strings of lights lit up the whole area as the sun set over the horizon and the sound of drums could be heard in the distance. People filed the streets, dressed in traditional celebratory garb as they participated in various games and activities, or just generally enjoying themselves.

    Ash’s gang were too tired to really get involved in any of the celebrations however, and decided to just find somewhere to stay for the night. The small town did not have a Pallet House or even just a Pokémon Center, so they had to search around for a small, very traditional inn. The group checked in for the night and went off to their rooms.

    “Now that were settled in, I’m going to call back home and let everyone know we’re alright.” Carmine announced to Ash and Brock after they had settled down into their shared room. “Although I should probably find somewhere private to make the call from, first. These walls feel like they’re paper thin. Isn’t that right, Misty?”

    “It’s almost like the walls are actually made of paper.” Misty agreed. Despite being in the next room over, it still sounded as if she was right there with the others.

    Carmine walked out of the room, leaving Ash and Brock to get ready to go to bed. The beds were of an old design, like everything there, and seemed to be little more than just mats on the floor.

    “I’ve stayed somewhere that feels so… rustic.” Ash noted. “It feels really weird.”

    “I like it.” Brock said. “It gives me an idea of what it was like for people back in older times.”

    “I know, right.” Misty added in, still in the other room. “It’s so nice to just take a break from the modern industrial society and enjoy a simpler time.”

    Ash shrugged. “I guess I just don’t see the appeal. Although it looks like Pika and Volty seem to be enjoying it.”

    The two Pikachu were resting at the foot of Ash’s mat. They were curled up so that their heads were resting against each other’s sides and their tails formed a ring wrapped around them.

    “Is that normal behavior for Pikachu?” Ash wondered aloud.

    “Pikachu are known to huddle together for warmth at night.” Brock pointed out.

    “I think they already fell asleep.” Ash observed. “And I think I’ll join them.”
    * * *​
    Charmander, Squirtle and Bulbasaur had been wandering around ever since their confrontation with Damian and deciding to challenge the Pokémon League by themselves. Unfortunately they had yet to find a way to do so without a human trainer, so they had been spending their time wandering in a desperate attempt to find anything that could help them in their goals. They eventually found themselves traveling south on Route 6, where they found an unfamiliar black and red Pokémon collapsed onto the ground. The Pokémon seemed to be sleeping, but awoke as they approached it.

    “Are you alright?” Bulbasaur asked the barely conscious Pokémon as he lifted it up to its feet with his vines.

    “I must find…” the Pokémon moaned, “my son.”

    “Well I’m afraid you won’t be able to find anything in the shape you’re in right now.” Charmander told the mysterious Pokémon. “Come with us, we’ll help you recover your strength so that you can continue your search.”

    The group made their way off the beaten trail and made a small shelter. Bulbasaur fashioned a leaf into a cup, which Squirtle filled with water for the black Pokémon drank graciously while Charmander went off in search of berries to eat.

    “Thank you.” The Pokémon said. “My name is Zoroark.”

    “Hmm…” Squirtle thought about something. “Have we met before?”

    “I don’t think so.” Zoroark answered.

    “It’s just…” Squirtle said. “Your voice seems very familiar to me.”

    “I know!” Bulbasaur chimed in. “You sound like that one won weird lady we met that one time.”

    “The human woman who could understand our speech.” Squirtle remembered.

    “I know what you’re talking about.” A look of realization crossed Zoroark’s face. “That was me.”
    * * *​
    Giovannni sat alone in his office watching a news report about the S.S. Anne.

    “Interesting.” He said to himself.

    Just then a small red light started flashing on Giovanni’s desk. He quickly turned off the news report and pressed a button underneath the desk and nine large screens slid down the wall in front of him. The center screen lit up to show a slightly plump blonde man in a white suit.

    “Are you insane?” The man yelled furiously at Giovanni. “What were you thinking, pulling a stunt like that?”

    “I assure you, destroying that ship was not our intent.” Giovanni politely told the angry man. “It was merely an unfortunate coincidence.”

    “Like the Distortion World it was! The Foundation was barely able to make it through the Cipher incident last year without anyone getting suspicious. The last thing we need right now is you complicating things any further. Another stunt like this and we’re cutting you off!”

    “Relax, Mr. President.” Giovanni’s calm demeanor remained completely unfazed. “The International Police can’t even touch us without having to risk Operation Pay Day taking effect.”

    “You do realize that scheme of yours would affect everyone, right?” The blonde man was clearly uneasy with the mention of Giovanni’s contingency plan. “Not just the police, but every government would be ruined. Even the Foundation would be affected if that happened. Even you would be.”

    “That’s exactly what makes it so effective of a threat.” Giovanni replied. “No one wants it to happen, even you. Which is why the Foundation will maintain its support of Team Rocket.”

    The blonde man stared angrily at Giovanni, then finally spoke. “I’m calling a meeting of the council.”

    “Go right ahead.”

    The man pressed a button on his white desk and slowly, one by one, the other screens each lit up to show another member of the mysterious council until only one remained blank.

    “I hereby this meeting of the council to order.” The blonde man announced. “As president of the Foundation, I make a movement too…”

    The man trailed off as suddenly the last screen lit up and an unexpected guest joined their meeting.

    “I hope I’m not too late.” Said Hunter J.

    “Who are you.” Asked the man in white asked angrily. “How did you reach this channel?”

    “You would know me as Hunter J.” The woman said slyly. “As I understand it, your little club is now short a member now that Es Cade is in prison and Cipher has disbanded. I am here to announce myself as his replacement.”

    “Es Cade didn’t have a replacement.” Pointed out a bespectacled, red haired man. “None of us do.”

    “But she has a point.” Said a serious looking man with light blue hair. “We need a tenth member and Es Cade is gone.”

    “But how do we know we can trust the lass?” Asked a large, heavily tanned man.

    “Giovanni can vouch for me, can’t you?” Hunter J said with a flirtatious smile.

    “You pouched two of my agents and left five more to die on the wreckage of the S.S. Anne.” Giovanni explained. “The only thing I have to say about you is that you cannot be trusted.”

    “They chose to join me.” Hunter J explained. “And your other men made it out just fine, from what my sources say.”

    “I like this woman.” Said a man with long, puffy green hair. “I vote for her to join.”

    “This isn’t up to a vote, yet.” The man in white said. “Although we do need to replace Es Cade’s seet on the council. In one week the nine of us will meet to discuss possible candidates. After that we shall hold a vote. If we vote for you to join “Hunter J” then we will contact you. Otherwise you are not to contact us again. If you have not heard from us by the end of the month than you are to destroy the transceiver you used to reach us and forget this frequency. Tell no one of our existence or the consequences will be dire for you.”
    “I guess this is it.” Pikachu muttered to herself, lying still on a sandy beach in some unknown place, unable to open her eyes for fear of where she would find herself. “I have failed her. After I tried so hard to do everything in my power to stop him from taking her, he was still able to get to her anyway. What was I even thinking? There was no way I could stop him. He’s too powerful for me to stop. For anybody to be able to stop.”

    “Well, it may seem that way, but clearly someone or something was able to stop him, otherwise we wouldn’t still be around to think about it.”

    Pikachu was shocked to hear the familiar voice, but not enough to open her eyes. Not that it would do any good as the voice was projected into her mind, meaning that even if she did look around, Abraham wouldn’t be there to see anyway.

    “So I guess that means I’m still alive at least, or else you’re dead too.” Pikachu thought back to the Psychic Pokémon.

    “No, you’re definitely alive. I’d say probably somewhere on one of the islands south of the Kanto mainland. I can’t quite pinpoint your location to bring you back, but I can still connect to you via the psychic link we’ve been using to communicate.”

    “Oh, goody.”

    “Yellow’s safe by the way. I’m not quite sure what happened but we washed up on an island and were able to find our way back on Maggie, being guided by some sort of ancient water-Pikachu-deity thing. I’m not really sure what he was.”

    Pikachu’s ears perked up at the news.

    “She’s safe? I never thought she’d be able to get away from him in a direct confrontation.”

    “Well she did, somehow. And there doesn’t seem to be any sign of him continuing his pursuit. My guess would be that whatever happened drained enough of his power to force him to retreat and recuperate. Hopefully it will buy us enough time to find a more permanent solution than just ‘keep a low profile and hope he doesn’t find her.’ Because I think we both know that isn’t going to work.”

    “For someone who doesn’t actually talk, you’re quite the chatterbox.” Pikachu remarked.

    “I only seem that way to you because you’re so stoic.”

    “And what do you propose we could do to stop him, anyway? What could possibly stop something with his power.”

    “A Legendary.”

    “What?” Pikachu said blankly.

    “I don’t know how we’ll find one or get it to help us, but the only solution in fighting something that has been granted such power would be with something that already has enough power to equal it. A Legendary Pokémon.”

    “Good luck with that.” Pikachu sighed. “I’m just going to enjoy my rest here and find a more practical solution.”

    Abraham didn’t say, or rather, think, anything else. Pikachu took that as a sign that he had left their mental conversation for the time being. She continued to lay there motionless for a while before finally deciding it was time to get up and figure out where she actually was. She crept one eye open, and then the other, before standing up and taking a look around.

    “Well, none of this looks familiar at all.” Pikachu said to herself. “Though that’s not really all that surprising. I guess I should probably try and find some higher ground to get a better look around.”
    * * *​
    Pika was suddenly rolled onto the ground, falling hard onto the wooden floor. Pika opened his eyes to see what had disturbed them, to see Ash leaving the room. The trainer was still in his pajamas and seemed to be in some sort of trance as he walked out the door. Pika shook his partner awake and Volty opened her eyes groggily in response.

    “What?” Volty asked sleepily.

    “Something’s wrong with Ash.” Pikachu whispered to her, not wanting to wake the others about this matter, yet. “He just left without us.”

    Sleepiness suddenly left Volty as she was shocked awake by that information. “Should we go after him?”

    “Of course we should.” Pika responded. “Come on, before we lose track of him.”

    The two Pikachu ran out of the inn and chased after their trainer. Pika ran as fast as he could, while Volty used her Quick attack to make short sprints so quickly that it looked almost like she was teleporting. They caught up to Ash as he made his way slowly towards the statue of the maiden. Pika and Volty each grabbed onto one of Ash’s legs and tried to pull him back, but they were not strong enough. Finally, Pika gave up on that idea and shocked Ash with Thunderbolt.

    “Aagh!” Ash yelled, then looked around in confusion. “Wait… where am I? What am I doing?” He turned back to see his two Pikachu, who looked relieved to see that Ash had regained his senses. “What’s going on, guys?”

    Suddenly, a wall of ghostly fire encircled the trio, trapping them in the spot.

    “You will not escape so easily.” A deep, raspy voice echoed through the flame-lit field. “She is expecting you, and I will make sure that she is denied your presence no longer. She has waited too long already.”

    Pika and Volty leapt onto Ash’s shoulder as the three all looked around to try and find the source of the haunting voice. A spectral image suddenly faded into view in front of them of a dark sphere surrounded by a purple fog materialized. Two big white eyes suddenly opened wide on the sphere and a huge mouth spit out its tongue before the sphere vanished into nothingness again.

    Ash fell to the ground in shock from the sudden ghostly appearance and he instinctively reached down to grab his Pokédex, which had been left back at the inn.

    “Who… who are you?”

    “I am the one who will reunite the maiden with her lost love. The one who has spent countless centuries waiting for his soul to return here. You may call me…” The sphere suddenly appeared behind Ash’s shoulder. “Ghastly!”

    Ash stumbled forward at the sudden appearance of the ghost and almost walked right into the ghostly blue flames surrounding them.

    “But what do I have to do with that?” Ash asked, fear evident in his voice.

    “Why, you have everything to do with it, of course.”

    Pika jumped at Ghastly and swung down its tail in a Brick Break, but the attack passed harmlessly through the air as the ghost faded away again. Pikachu landed on the ground and looked around in confusion.

    “Oh, don’t think you’ll be able to get the best of me that easily.” Ghastly’s voice haunted the air. “The maiden has been waiting a long time for her love to return to her and now that I am so close to reuniting them, I won’t let anything stop me.”
    * * *​
    Looker and his team, currently consisting of himself, Lance, 009, Wes, Rui and Lorelei, made their way back to their headquarters in Viridian with the aid of 009’s Alakazam.

    “I never thought I’d miss this place so much.” Wes remarked.

    “That could have gone much better.” Said Lance.

    “Ja.” Looker agreed. “Though we should be grateful that it did not turn out worse.”

    “How could that have gone worse?” Rui asked.

    “Everyone on that ship could have drowned at sea.” 009 explained. “But as it happens, there are no confirmed casualties. Almost everyone was accounted for when we awoke after the storm, and those who weren’t have since been confirmed as alive.”

    “But I am curious as to what attracted those Gyarados.” Lorelei said. “All I can think of would be the fire. But who’s Salamence was that, that started the fire in the first place?”

    “I believe that the Salamence in question belonged to the mercenary known as Hunter J.” Looker explained. “The International Police have been after her for quite some time, but we have been unable to capture her or even learn her true identity.”

    “Her name is Jael Jaeger.”

    Everyone turned to look at Wes.

    “How do you know that?” Looker asked him.

    “Jaeger.” Rui mouthed the name in recognition. “But that’s… it’s your…”

    “It’s my last name.” Wes confirmed. “Because she’s my mother. At least with the biological sense of the term, anyway.”
     
    #5 Sep 1, 2017
    Last edited: Oct 2, 2017
  6. BZRich64

    BZRich64 The Mustachioed Machamp

    Pulgasari
    (Aron)
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    Pikachu hopped back onto Ash’s shoulder as the sound of Ghastly’s laughter echoed around them. The Ghost materialized again in front of Ash and continued speaking. Pika and Volty took the opportunity to strike, sending out dual Thunderbolts which collided in the air to merge into a larger electric strike which was able to zap Ghastly directly. The ghost reeled back from the blast towards the flames behind him. But to the shock of Ash and his Pikachu, Ghastly did not actually touch the fire. In fact, the entire ring of fire seemed to move back to keep Ghastly within it, forcing Ash to take several steps forward to avoid being burned by it.

    “Why do you continue to fight against the inevitable?” Ghastly asked in a pained voice. “No matter what you do, I will unite the lovers.”

    “I still don’t know what you’re talking about!” Ash shouted in frustration.

    “It would appear that you need a sample of my power to get you to cooperate. Now… let’s see what it is you fear most…”

    Ghastly faded away again and for a moment there was complete silence. A shadow formed on the ground beneath where Ghastly had been and slowly grew out of the ground. Ash and his Pikachu watched in shock as the shadow took form.
    * * *​
    “Alright, we had a little setback, but now it’s time to get back on track!” Gary said triumphantly as he walked out of the hospital alongside his sister. Kat and the others trailed behind the two. “Onwards to Lavender!”

    “You’re going to Lavender Town?” Daisy asked her brother in surprise.

    “Yeah, what’s it to you?”

    “Well, I was thinking about going with you for a bit, but if you’re going to that haunted ghost town then count me out.”

    “What? Don’t tell me that you’re afraid of a few ghosts.” Gary teased her.

    “You know those ghosts are just rumors, right?” Ciel asked the two.

    “No they’re not.” Kat argued. “I’ve seen a few.”

    Daisy froze up in panic at that remark.

    “Of course, they’re only Ghost-type Pokémon.” Kat teased.

    “I don’t care.” Daisy waved her hand through the air in a dismissive manor. “I’m not going to Lavender Town with you and that’s that.”

    “I never said you could come, anyway.” Gary pointed out.
    * * *​
    “You’s called for us?” Meowth asked as he, James, Jessie, Attila and Hun hesitantly walked into Giovanni’s office. Their leader looked upset about something, but his frown quickly changed into a slight smile as he saw them.

    “Yes.” Giovanni said calmly. “I wish to discuss your mission. You failed to capture any Pokémon, three of your teammates went AWOL and you’ve attracted the unwanted attention from some very powerful people.”

    The members of Team Rocket all froze, each waiting in anticipation for what horrible punishments they would receive from their failure.

    “However,” Giovanni continued, “that means our membership in only down by three traitors and the world now thinks much more highly of our threat. This has served as an even greater example of what happens when people try to interfere with us than I ever could have hoped. You may have failed the mission that you were assigned, but you’ve still done will enough to earn yourselves a promotion… Elite Squadron.”

    The five stood there in surprised shock. Seeing their reaction, Giovanni decided to continue further.

    “However, you will need to fill out the missing positions of your team, so I have hand selected three new members of your Squadron.” He waved towards the door and Agrnt Masque walked into the room, followed by Butch and Cassidy. But something seemed odd about the two. They seemed cold and emotionless, while their eyes seemed like they no longer reflected light. They had been changed in the same way that Masque had. Their hearts had been closed up, leaving them as only shadows of their former selves.

    “As it happens, I don’t have another assignment for you quite yet. So I suggest you do some training to get to work better with your new teammates. That will be all for now, you may go.”
    * * *​
    “Behold your greatest fear!” Ghastly laughed evilly. “It is…” The ghost’s voice faltered. “you?”

    The black mass had formed into a duplicate of Ash, though the copy did have a few noticeable differences. The copy didn’t carry himself with quite the same air of confidence that the real Ash had developed and looked almost like he was slightly younger. A duplicate of Pika rested on the fake Ash’s shoulder, but with no Volty besides him. The copy stared meekly at Ash, who looked back with unease.

    “I don’t get it.” Ghastly rematerialized next to the real Ash. “Are you truly afraid of yourself?”

    “No.” Ash said, more to himself than to Ghastly. “I don’t think that’s me. Something’s different about him.”

    The fake Ash assumed a fighting position, with the fake Pikachu’s cheeks sparked with electricity.

    “Come on! Let’s battle!” The fake Ash challenged his true counterpart.

    “I guess I don’t have a choice.” Ash held out his right arm, giving Pika his cue to enter the battle.

    Pika hopped onto the ground between the two Ashes, his mirror duplicate doing the same. Ash and his counterfeit copy both gave their Pikachu their first orders and the two Pokémon acted at once. The fake Pikachu launched a Thunderbolt at Pika, who shrugged off the attack and retaliated with a Brick Break. Pika’s tail slammed against the imposter and sent him flying out of the ring of fire.

    “Looks like you won this fight,” the duplicate Ash said, “but how about a rematch?”

    “You don’t have another Pokémon.” Ash pointed out.

    Another illusory Pikachu materialized when the first one had stood. Ash sighed as the battle begun again. The copy Pikachu tried to use Thunderbolt again, only to be knocked away by another Brick Break.

    “Wow, you’re good. But I bet you can’t beat me again.”

    “I think I’m starting to get it.” Ash said as Pika defeated a third copy. “This isn’t me at all. Or at least, not the me that I am.” A fourth Pikachu showed up, and Pika defeated it like the others. “It’s would I could have been. What I could still be.” Pika defeated a fifth Pikachu. “This is an Ash Ketchum who never learned, a me that has dedicated so much to becoming a Pokémon Trainer that he has forgotten his, no, my true goals.”

    “Come on. I’ll win eventually!” The fake said after Pika defeated yet another copy Pikachu.

    “I still don’t understand.” Ghastly said.

    “I always thought that I wanted to be a Pokémon Trainer and eventually become a Pokémon Master. It’s what we all wanted to be back in Pallet Town and I felt I had to surpass my friends. But seeing this me has made me realize something.”

    “What?”

    Ash turned to the Ghost. “I want to be more than that. I want to grow up. If I were to pursue that goal endlessly, I’ll never really amount to anything. I can’t afford to let life pass me by as I widdle away my time were working towards endless pursuits.”

    “That’s deep.” Ghastly nodded wisely. “And I was just trying to scare you to death. Literally.”

    “I still don’t understand why you want me.”

    Ghastly looked at Ash, then to the copy. The ghost decided to let his illusions fade away and the wall of fire surrounding them died down.

    “I’m assuming you’ve heard the story of Maiden’s Peak?”

    “One of my friends told me about it earlier.”

    “Well, after the maiden passed on, I agreed to help return her love to her. I’ve been spending the centuries since then looking for him, but obviously humans don’t live this long. So, instead of searching for him, I’ve been looking for someone who shares his soul. And as it happens, I’ve found it in you.”

    “But I’m not him.” Ash pointed out.

    “I know. I let my quest take over me, much like you’re worried will happen to you. But now I realized that I failed my quest long ago and will never be able to reunite them.”

    “That’s okay.” Ash jumped when he heard the sound of a woman’s voice behind him. He then got an even bigger scare as he turned to see who it was and saw the maiden’s ghost floating there. “I understand and I think that after all this time that we have finally met the point where we must both move on.”

    “You’re right, Hanami. It is time. But what should we do now?”

    “You could help me in my quest.” Ash said once he regained his senses. “You are a Pokémon, right Ghastly?”

    “Yes.” The Ghost-type Pokémon eyed him warily. “But I thought you were giving up on becoming a Pokémon Master.”

    “Don’t be ridicules.” Ash smiled. “I’m not giving up on my dream just yet.” He then dropped his smile and his tone became more serious. “I just need to make sure that I don’t let it take over me and I’m sure you can help with that.”

    “Fine.” Ghastly nodded. “You have a deal. But what about you?” Ghastly turned back to the maiden’s ghost.

    “If it is alright, I would like to travel with you as well.” The woman said. “At least until I find something else to do.”

    “Sure.” Ash said, holding out his arm to shake her hand. “Of course you’re welcome to.”

    The maiden. Hanami, looked down at Ash’s hand and giggled. Ash then pulled his hand back in embarrassment, realizing that a ghost had no physical form, and therefore could not shake his hand.
    Daisy walked up to the Vermilion City Gym and held out Bulbasaur’s Pokéball. “This is it.” She said to her starter Pokémon. “We probably should have done this before getting on the S.S. Anne, but oh well. We’re going this now.”

    She walked into the large industrial building and immediately her hair began to frizz up from the acces static hanging in the air.

    “What…” Daisy had no idea what was going on.

    “Welcome to the Viridian Gym.” Lt. Surge greeted Daisy, who was greatly intimidated by the large man, standing at almost twice her height. “I’m guessing your here to earn the Thunder Badge.”

    “That’s right.” Daisy managed to get out. “My… my name’s Daisy.”

    “Alright. I think I remember seeing your records. Daisy Oak, right? You’ve got two badges already?”

    “That’s right.” Daisy confirmed.

    “Good, good. Then this will be a one-on –one fight like your previous Gym battles have been. Get to your position and we’ll start the match.”

    Surge jogged up to the opposite end of the battle field while Daisy nervously walked over to her end, still uneasy about the electricity flowing through the room. She called out her Bulbasaur while Surge sent out his Pikachu.

    “Use Sleep Powder!” Daisy called out to her Bulbasaur, who sprayed out a wave of pollen from the bulb on her back towards Surge’s Pikachu as it charged up to her for a Thunder Punch. The attack caused Pikachu to trip and fall to the ground asleep. Taking the opportunity, Bulbasaur launched a volley of Razor Leaf and lashed out with a Vine Whip. Both attacks hit Pikachu at the same time, knocking the Electric rodent back and also jarring it awake. Pikachu rushed up for another Thunder Punch, this time dodging out of the way of a Razor Leaf and hitting Bulbasaur right in the cheek. Electricity rushed through Bulbasaur with the shock of impact, paralyzing the Grass-type.

    Pikachu prepared to hit Bulbasaur with an Iron Tail, but was interrupted as Bulbasaur was able to spray a puff of Poison Powder right into Pikachu’s face, sending the Mouse Pokémon stumbling back in a coughing fit. Bulbasaur tried to take advantage of this by charging forward in a Takedown, but her paralysis left Bulbasaur unable to move fast enough and Pikachu was able to back away and fire a Thundershock at Bulbasaur.

    Bulbasaur launched another Razor Leaf, sending two of the leaves arcing forward in two directions. Pikachu easily dodged the attack and started running up to Bulbasaur to hit it with another Thunder Punch. Fortunately for Bulbasaur, she hadn’t really been aiming for Pikachu with that move and the two leaves finished their arcs, returning towards her and striking Pikachu in the back, knocking him to the ground.

    “This is it, Bulbasaur!” Daisy encouraged her Pokémon. “Finish the battle!”

    Bulbasaur lashed out with a Vine Whip, knocking Pikachu unconscious and winning the fight. With the battle won, Bulbasaur began to glow and grow into its evolved form, Ivysaur.

    “Very good.” Surge clapped lightly as he walked up to Daisy. “You’ve earned this.” He handed a Thunder Badge out to Daisy, who graciously accepted it.
    * * *​
    Ash quietly snuck back into the inn, making sure not to wake anyone. Pika and Volty rode on his shoulders while Ghastly and Hanami silently floated behind him. As Ash reached his room, he reached into his backpack and pulled out an empty Pokéball, holding it out to Ghastly who gently bumped his against it and was engulfed by the red energy.

    “I’m going to go back to sleep now.” Ash whispered to Hanami as quietly as he could. “See you in a few hours.”

    “Actually…” Hanami said at her regular speaking voice, worrying Ash that she would wake up the others. “As a ghost, I can only be seen or heard when I choose to be. As such you will not be seeing me again until I choose for you to. I would also like to keep my presence a secret.”

    Ash nodded to the ghost girl and lied down on his sleeping mat, Pika and Volty returning to their resting place by his feat. Hanami watched as the boy fell asleep and after a while Ghastly left its new Pokéball.

    “He is the current vessel of Katsuo’s soul, is he not?” He asked her.

    “I cannot say for sure.” Hanami spoke mournfully. “It could just be a coincidence that he looks and feels the same as him. But either way it would be unfair to end the boy’s life just so that I could be reunited with my love. I have waited for over a thousand years for him to return to me, and I can surely wait another lifetime.”
    * * *​
    “So what you’re saying is that you have the power to make yourself appear human?” Squirtle asked as he, Charmander and Bulbasaur finished listening to Zoroark’s story.

    “Yes. I just told you that a few second ago.” Zoroark pointed out.

    “I know. I was just confirming it to myself while I think.”

    “What are you thinking about?” Asked Charmander.

    “I think I have an idea. We need someone to help us go through the Pokémon League and Zoroark need to find her son. I think we can help each other out.”

    “How so?” Zoroark questioned.

    “You can turn into a human and register as a Pokémon Trainer. We could then go around collecting all of the Gym Badges while searching for leads on where this Hunter J lady is.”

    “That would never work.” Said Bulbasaur. “They’d see right through the disguise immediately.”

    “No, I think he’s on to something.” Charmander added.

    “Is no one going to ask me what I think?” Zoroark asked.

    “Right, this decision should be Zoroarks.” Said Squirtle. “Take your time to think about it.”

    “I don’t need any time. I’ll do it.”

    “Really?”

    “I have nowhere else to go.”
    * * *​
    “Wow! That’s the biggest building I’ve ever seen!” Yellow looked up in awe at the massive tower before them as she a Red reached Lavender Town.

    “I think that would be the Pokémon Tower.” Red explained. “It’s supposed to be the tallest man-made structure in the region.”

    “Neat! Can we go there?”

    “I don’t think that would be a good idea.” Red said. “It’s a… well, it’s a cemetery.”

    Yellow’s cheery disposition faded away. “What?”

    “Or I guess it would be more accurate to call it a mausoleum.” Red looked down at his feet as they continued to walk through town. “If I remember correctly from my history classes, it was first built thousands of years ago after the Great War. Ever since then the tower has been built up and restructured several times. People and Pokémon are still buried within to this day.”

    “Do we have to stay here?” Yellow asked.

    “We’re just going to stay the night at the Pokémon Center and leave in the morning.”

    “Alright.” Yellow looked uneasy. “But, is this place haunted?”

    “People have claimed to see ghosts in the area for centuries.” Red looked at Yellow and saw how frightened she seemed. “But there’s no such thing as actual ghosts, of course. It’s just Ghost-type Pokémon and people thinking they see things that aren’t really there.”

    “Let’s just hurry to the Pokémon Center.” Yellow said.

    The two walked a couple more blocks and took a turn, reaching a friendly looking, red roofed building they both recognized immediately. The Pokémon Center seemed highly out of place when surrounded by the old and faded pinkish-purple stone houses that filled the rest of the town. Red walked inside the Pokémon Center, with Yellow right behind him and they were greeted by a friendly nurse.

    “Hello and welcome to the Lavender Town Pokémon Center. Can we heal your Pokémon?”

    Red walked up to the counter the nurse was standing behind and handed her his Pokéball, which the nurse placed in a healing machine. While he was waiting for that, Yellow wandered around and found a creepy looking woman with unkempt bushy black hair standing off to the side.

    “Do you believe in ghosts?” The woman asked as she noticed Yellow.

    “N-no.” Yellow stuttered out.

    “Your right of course. Ghosts don’t exist. But then again, what’s that hand on your shoulder?”

    Yellow jumped up in freight and turned around to see what the woman was talking about, but didn’t see anything there. The woman cackled in delight from Yellow’s overly dramatic reaction to her joke.

    “That’s not funny!” Yellow whined.

    “It was for me. But seriously, kid. Ghosts aren’t real.” The woman paused for a moment in consideration. “Spirits on the other hand are all around us.”

    Yellow froze up as Red walked over to her and rested his hand gently on her shoulder. “Come on, let’s go.”

    “Hold on!” The woman shouted. “Wouldn’t you like to have your fortune read before you go?”

    “No thanks.” Red herded Yellow away from the creepy woman as they went to the resting area to stay for the night.
    Ash woke up again in the morning to find that the others were already up and packing. The maiden’s ghost was nowhere to be seen, like she had told him.

    “About time you woke up.” Carmine said to him. “You back to your old sleeping habits?”

    “No. I just woke up in the middle of the night and it took me a while to go back to sleep.” It wasn’t the whole truth, but Ash didn’t exactly lie either. He got up and packed his own things, which didn’t really take long since everything was already in his backpack.

    When they were done, Ash, Carmine and Brock met up outside the inn with Misty and the four headed west. It didn’t take long to reach the edge of town and soon they were hiking through the wilderness.

    “Where are we going, anyway?” Misty asked.

    “Wherever we end up.” Ash answered her.

    “Which according to this map would be Lavender Town.” Brock clarified.

    “Bleh.” Misty stuck her tongue out in distaste. “Do we need to go to the ghost town?”

    “Don’t tell me you believe in ghosts?” Carmine mocked the Gym Leader.

    “Of course not. It’s just creepy, is all.”

    Ash couldn’t help but grin at the irony of their conversation as he looked over to where he imagined Hanami was floating. For a split second he thought he saw her flicker into sight, smiling back at him and trying not to laugh, before she vanished again.

    “What are you smiling about?” Misty yelled at Ash, snapping his attention back to the others.

    “Oh, nothing.” Ash lied. “It’s just fun seeing you get scared.”

    “Why you little…” Misty punched Ash lightly in the shoulder.

    “Come on!” Ash shouted as he started to run. “The faster we get there the faster we can leave!”

    “Oh, you’re on.” Misty stopped and reached into her backpack, pulling out her bike. “I can get there faster than you can!”

    “Ah, youth.” Carmine sighed as Brock ran to catch up with Ash and Misty. “Why do people always seem to get so nostalgic for it?”
    * * *​
    Wes’ Espeon and Umbreon nuzzled up against his hands as he slouched in the chair opposite Looker’s desk.

    “There you go.” He told the International Police officer. “A full report of everything I know about my mom. Can I go now?”

    “Hmm…” Looker looked through the papers that Wes had handed him. “Yes, I think this should be good for now.”

    “Great.” Wes said sarcastically as he got up and turned to leave, his two eeveelutions trailing behind him.

    “Although I do have one more question.” Looker said before Wes was able to get out the door.

    “What?”

    “This report says that she was a member of the gang known as “Team Snagem” but that she left them to join Cipher, leaving you in the care of Snagem’s leader.”

    “Yeah, I know.” Wes said irritably. “That’s kind of the entire point of the report.”

    “But you never mentioned your father at all.” Looker continued.

    “What father?” Wes said in a mocking tone. “I never knew who he was and it’s not like Mom ever mentioned him at all.”

    “I see that this is a sore subject for you.” Looker noted.

    “Yeah, no kidding. Now can I go?”

    “Yes, of course.”

    Wes stepped out of Looker’s office, leaving the brown trench coat clad officer alone.

    “The higher ups will be very glad to have this.” Looker said to himself as he read through the report again. “But what were the odds that I would recruit the son of a mercenary that Team Rocket hired. I can’t tell if this is just a coincidence or if there is something more going on here.”

    Looker was snapped out of his thoughts by a knock on the door.

    “Come in.” He said.

    009 walked in and sat in the empty chair that Wes had been in only a moment ago.

    “What do you want?” Looker asked the girl.

    “I was wondering if I could take a look at that report when you were finished with it.” She explained.

    “Why?” Looker asked inquisitively.

    “I just want to know more about the people we have to go up against.”

    Looker studied 009’s face carefully, but the girl’s face was as unreadable as ever.

    “Fine. I’ll let you see it when I am done. But for now I would like to be left alone.”

    “Of course.” 009 stood up again and left, closing the door behind her.

    Looker sat there staring at the door for a moment. The girl had been placed under his supervision for several months before they had been assigned this mission, yet he felt like he hardly knew her at all. Tulip Black, known by the codename 009, was the youngest recruit the International Police had ever had, a record previously held by Looker himself years ago. She had apparently been working towards the position her whole life and had some of the highest test scores they had ever seen. But when it came to anything not involving her work for the IP, she was like a black slate. She didn’t seem to have any interests, any friends, or even any family. Any attempt at learning anything about her personally had been met with nothing until finally he just gave up on pursuing the matter.
    * * *​
    “Here we are, Lavender Town.” Mal said as she drove into the small city.

    “I can’t believe we had to pull an all-nighter just to get here.” Ciel complained.

    “What are you talking about? You barely even drove at all!” Mal yelled at her younger sister.

    “Can you keep it down up there?” Kat asked, having just woken up from a nap.

    “Why are we here anyway?” Asked Sue.

    “Because I felt like it.” Gary said.

    Mal pulled into a parking lot behind the Pokémon Center and the five got out. Gary walked around to the front of the Pokémon Center with the others following him in.

    “Welcome to the Lavender Town Pokémon Center! May we heal your Pokémon?” The nurse asked.

    “No thanks.” Gary told her as he walked over to a map of the town hung up on one of the walls.

    While he looked at the map, the girls went to sit down on some nearby couches to rest for a bit. After sitting down, Kat happened to look up to the entrance to the sleeping area and noticed pair of familiar faces walking out and decided to get back up and walk over to them.

    “Hey, kid.” She said to Red. “What’s up?”

    “Oh, hey.” Red was visibly startled by the sudden appearance. “What are you doing here?”

    “Ah, nothing.” Kat shrugged and pointed over her shoulder with her thumb. “Gary over there just thought he wanted to check the place out for some reason.”

    “Hi, miss.” Yellow waved at Kat.

    Gary noticed his cousin’s conversation and walked over to her to see who she was talking to.

    “Oh, it’s just you two.” He scoffed as he saw Red and Yellow. “And here I thought we might actually meet someone interesting here.”

    “Like who?” Yellow asked.

    “I don’t know.” Gary said a little more defensively than he meant to.

    “All kinds of people come here to see the Pokémon Tower.” Kat said. “Some have family or ancestors buried there while others see it as more of a tourist attraction.”

    “A very morbid tourist attraction.” Gary added.

    Yellow started to look worried as she remembered just where they were and Red was just about to walk her out so that they could leave when another boy and girl entered the Pokémon Center.

    “Gary?” Ash yelled in surprise as Misty put her bike back in her bag. “And Red? What are you guys doing here?”

    “Wow, I didn’t think we’d all be meeting up again so soon.” Red said.

    “Yeah, unfortunately.” Gary snickered. “Although Daisy won’t be here. She wimped out and decided she doesn’t want to be anywhere near this place.”

    “That’s no way to talk about your sister.” Kat scolded him.

    “What? It’s not like she’s here.”

    “That just makes it worse.”

    “Would you all just keep quite over there?” Ciel called from over on the couch. “Some of us are trying to rest.”

    Brock then walked in on the scene, with Carmine following shortly after. The Pokémon Center looked on at all of the steadily growing commotion going on and gave a defeated sigh. She decided to just back away instead of trying to calm things down.
    The Department of Pokémon Training building in Vermilion City was unusually empty. A lone worker nodded off behind a counter while he waited for anyone to show up. After a while, a young woman walked in and approached the worker, who snapped back to attention.

    "What can I do for you today?" He asked her.

    The woman appeared to be somewhere around her late teens to early twenties, with long bushy black hair that turned red at the tips and she wore a furry black and red coat over a black dress. She had a Squirtle with her that seemed to be wearing an oddly angular pair of sunglasses.

    "I'd like to apply for a Pokémon License." She said to the man while looking him with her strikingly bright blue eyes. She had a foreign accent that he couldn't quite place.

    "Sure." The man said eagerly. "All you have to do is fill out this paperwork."

    The woman took the stapled sheets of paper and pen that the man handed her and walked off to a nearby chair to fill it out. The worker watched her as she filled out the form. If he didn't know any better he'd say that the Squirtle was actually telling her what to write down. But that wouldn't make any sense, would it?

    When she finished, the woman returned to the counter and handed the forms back to the man.

    "Will this suffice?" She asked.

    "It sure will, Miss, uh…" He looked down at the name filled out on the form. "Zahira Darhk, is it?"

    "That is correct." The woman confirmed.

    "Okay, then. Now all we have to do is get a license filled out for you."
    * * *​
    Daisy walked along the path from Viridian City to Celadon City at a leisurely pace. Now that she had finally earned her third badge and caught up to Ash and Red, she was hoping to quickly be able to earn her fourth and possibly pass them in badge count. Daisy's walk was uneventful at first, but then suddenly her bag began to shake violently.

    "What's this?" Daisy reached into her bag and pulled out the source of the shaking: the portable incubation chamber she had been given to keep her egg in. "Oh, wow. I actually forgot I had this with me for a bit. It looks like it's hatching."

    The pink egg covered in white star-shaped marking shook and began to crack open. Daisy watched as the egg became engulfed in a bright white light similar to the one that encased a Pokémon upon evolution. As the light faded away, a newly born baby Pokémon appeared in the egg's place. The incubator automatically opened up and the pink star-shaped Pokémon with conical green ears fell into Daisy's other arm.

    "Oh, it's so cute." Daisy said as she put the incubator away and pulled out her Pokédex. "Cleffa, huh? Well I'm sure that you'll make a very nice addition to our team."

    "Cle!" Clefa squealed happily, gazing up at Daisy with sparkling green eyes.

    "Oh, look at that! You can already talk! Kind of." Daisy held up the baby Cleffa in front of her face. "Come on, you baby star, you! Let's get going."
    * * *​
    Charmander and Bulbasaur sat out back behind the Department of Pokémon Training, waiting for the others to return. Charmander was drawing lines on the ground with his stubby fingers while Bulbasaur was lying down, trying to take a nap. After a while, Charmander looked up from his doodles to see the two figures of Squirtle and Zoroark walking towards them and nudged Bulbasaur back awake.

    "So, how did it go?" Charmander asked excitedly.

    Squirtle smiled as Zoroark reached into her coat and pulled out her new Trainer Card.

    "Wow!" Bulbasaur and Charmander both looked at it in amazement.

    "It just goes to show how flawed the system is if they can allow for something like this to happen." Squirtle said in a snobbish tone of voice. "But who cares? It sure worked out for us well enough!"

    "Now!" Charmander pointed his finger out dramatically in a random direction. "We move off to get our first Gym Badge!"

    Bulbasaur and Zoroark followed Charmander as he marched off in the direction he was pointing before Squirtle had to run up ahead of him and redirect them to the correct way to get to the nearest Gym.

    "Right." Charmander said Mareepishly. "I knew that. I was just testing you."

    "Sure, you were." Squirtle said sarcastically. "How about you just leave the navigation to me, for now."
    * * *​
    "Well, I think we'll be going now." Red said to the others as he grabbed Yellow's hand and began guiding her out of the Pokémon Center so that they could finally leave Lavender Town.

    "What?" Gary asked mockingly. "Are you scared of a few ghosts?"

    "No." Red answered. "We just don't feel like lingering around here."

    "Fine, fine. Coward." Gary called to them as they were about to walk out the door.

    "No." Yellow suddenly stopped. "Let's stay."

    "Are you sure?" Red asked her, concerned. "You know you don't have to cave into bullying like that, right?"

    "I'm sure." Yellow turned back to face the rest of the crowd. "In fact, how about we all go up to the highest floor of the tower. We'll see who's afraid then."

    "I'm not sure I like that idea." Ash said.

    "Oh, shut it." Gary snapped at him. "There's no way I'm turning down a challenge!"

    "Then it's settled." Yellow said. "I'll see you all at the top."

    Yellow smiled and ran out of the Pokémon Center. Red turned to the others and gave an embarrassed half-smile before going after her.

    "Well, that was a thing." Misty said flatly.

    "Come, on!" Gary called to his cheerleaders as he stormed out after Red and Yellow.

    "Yeah, there's no way I'm doing that." Ciel said.

    "Me neither." Ciel and Mal both agreed.

    "Fine, then." Kat sighed. "I guess I'll go after him alone. You know, for hired chaperones, you people don't really do much."

    "I guess we're going to." Ash said as he headed out after Kat. Misty, Brock and Carmine begrudgingly followed.
    * * *​
    Zoroark, or rather, Zahira, walked into the Vermilion City Gym. Charmander, Squirtle and Bulbasaur all followed after her. The four all looked around inside and noticed the electricity floating between the pylons on the ceiling.

    "Well, I'm out." Squirtle said matter-of-factly as he turned around to leave. "Tell me when you get the badge."

    "Wait, what?" Charmander asked, astonished. "What about our goal?"

    "I don't mean I'm giving up on that. I'm just not comfortable with all this electricity. I am a Water-type, after all."

    "But you're the only one who knows what we're doing!" Bulbasaur called after him.

    "I'm sure you can figure it out." Were Squirtle's last words before heading out the door.

    Lt. Surge noticed the commotion and headed over to see what was going on.

    "Hello there!" He said as he walked up to the disguised Zoroark. "Are you here for a Gym Battle? Or maybe some tips on Pokémon Breeding?"

    "The Gym Battle." Zoroark said with a huge awkward smile that looked almost like a grimace as she limply held out her hand.

    "Of, course you are." Surge said. "Everyone's always here for that. What's the point of even having a hobby if no one else is ever interested?" He reached out and shook her hand vigorously, with much more force than she was expecting, causing her to wince. "But never mind about that. If it's a Gym Battle you want, it's a Gym Battle you'll get. Now, I don't remember seeing you in the Pokémon League Records before. Are you just starting out?"

    "Yes." Zoroark said. "I just got my license today." Then, as an afterthought. "My name is Zahira. Zahira Darhk."

    "Well, Zahira, if this is your first Gym Battle, then this will just be a simple one-on-one battle."

    Surge walked over to the other side of the room while Zoroark looked back and forth between Charmander and Bulbasaur.

    "Which one of you should I use?" She asked them.

    "I'll do it." Bulbasaur said as he turned to face the Gym Leader. Charmander walked back behind Zoroark.

    "Are you ready?" Lt. Surge called out after letting out his Pikachu.

    "I guess so." Zoroark said back.
    Pikachu charged up for his opening move of Thunder Punch. Bulbasaur interrupted the move by reaching out with his vines and wrapped them around Pikachu, lifting him up the ground. Pikachu struggled to be let free from Bulbasaur's grasp and send a Thunderbolt running down the vines, shocking Bulbasaur and forcing him to release his grip.

    Pikachu was able to guide his fall to bring him closer to Bulbasaur and slapped him across the face with an Iron Tail. Bulbasaur retaliated by launching a Leech Seed at Pikachu. The seed hit Pikachu on the top of his head and small vines grew out to latch itself onto the Electric-type Pokémon, slowly draining his health and transferring it to Bulbasaur.

    Pikachu then tried Thunder Punch again, but Bulbasaur picked him up with his vines again, this time launching his Razor Leaf attack at the same time so that Pikachu was hit before he had a chance to react. Bulbasaur then followed up with another Razor Leaf, but Pikachu was able to react in time sending a shock down the vines and getting free before the leaves hit. Unfortunately for Pikachu, Bulbasaur was planning on that and had been preparing his strongest move, Solar Beam.

    Bulbasaur finished gathering enough solar energy for the attack right as Pikachu was about to land on the ground. The Seed Pokémon opened up its mouth and a beam of raw solar energy blasted out. Pikachu took the brunt of the attack head-on. As the energy dissipated, Pikachu was still standing there, almost out of energy. The Leech Seed then drained a bit more of his health, which served as the last straw for Pikachu, who then collapsed onto the ground.

    "It looks like you win." Lt. Surge said. "Congratulations!"

    The Gym Leader walked up to Zoroark and handed her a Thunder Badge. "Here you go."

    Zoroark accepted the badge, thanked him and walked out with her Pokémon. Lt. Surge watched them leave as he heard Rotom enter the computer terminal behind ham and he turned around to face it.

    -You do realize that woman wasn't actually a human, right?-

    "Of course I realized that."

    -Then why did you let her fight.-

    Surge shrugged his shoulders before replying. "I thought it would be interesting. I've never seen a Pokémon try to command another Pokémon in a fight like that before."

    -Sometimes I worry about you.-

    "There's no need for that. I know the Pokémon League Rules like the back of my own hand and there is no actual rule against a Pokémon entering the league. If anyone else is going to have an issue with it, then that will be their problem, not mine."

    -Yes, and this is the same kind of rule exploitation that lets you use a Pikachu that is as strong as a Raichu, with moves that it shouldn't be able to have at its level, just because you bred it yourself locally.-

    "Yep. The rules say that the lowest level Gym Team has to consist of a single basic-level Pokémon that is native to the region. They don't say anything about how powerful that Pokémon can or cannot be." Surge confirmed.

    -And yet you still can't use me for a battle.-

    "I'm sorry Rotom, but you're not native to Kanto. I may exploit loopholes in the rules, but I don't break them. If we get called to an expedition tournament or something along those lines, I'll be sure to use you, but for Gym Battles, I just can't."

    -Fine.-
    * * *​
    Ash looked up at the Pokémon Tower as he stood outside its entrance. The dark, intimidating stone structure suddenly seemed much larger than it had when he had noticed it earlier. Misty, Brock and Carmine caught up to him as he stared up.

    "Aren't you going inside?" Carmine asked.

    "Y-yeah." Ash stuttered nervously. "I was just waiting for you guys."

    "Pika!" Pika chimed in.

    Ash swallowed his fear and opened the door leading inside the ancient mausoleum. Despite the spooky atmosphere of the tower's outer wall, the first floor was actually quite pleasant. The floor was lined with green tiles that were well polished and a yellow reception desk stood over to the side, right next to the staircase leading up to the second floor.

    "Welcome to the Pokémon Tower." A receptionist said as she saw the group walk in. "How may I help you?"

    "Uhh…" Ash was thrown off-guard by the unexpectedly pleasant lobby and did not know what to say.

    "We're fine for now. Thank you." Carmine told the receptionist as he grabbed Ash's arm and pulled him towards the stairs.

    The two walked up the steps with Misty and Brock keeping close behind them. Carmine let go of Ash as they reached the second level and Ash was left stunned for a completely different reason than he had before.

    The first floor of the Pokémon Tower may have been unexpectedly pleasant, but the second floor was exactly what Ash had expected the inside of the tower to be like. The floor tiles when still green, but they did not look like they had been cleaned in any way for a very long time. Stone graves were packed so closely together that they only left narrow paths between them that formed a sort of maze. But none of that compared to the light, purple mist that seemed to permeate throughout the entire chamber.

    "What is this?" Misty asked in disgust.

    "This is what happens when you pack too much death in one spot." Carmine explained. "It attracts Ghost Pokémon like Venomoths to a candle. Normally a place like this would hire Channelers to exorcise them from the area, but it looks like they haven't been able to keep up with it. Ghost-types are attracted to high places, which means that it should only get worse as we get higher."

    "I'm thinking that maybe we should head back." Brock said. "I'm not sure this will be worth it."

    "No." Ash said. "We're going to the top."

    "But why?" Misty whined.

    "Oh, just quit your whining and do as the boy says." Misty and Brock both jumped in fright while Carmine only reacted with mild surprise to the sudden appearance of a Ghastly behind them. "He is your leader, is he not?"

    "G-g-g-ghost!" Misty screamed.

    "Oh, right." Ash said. "I haven't introduced you yet. Guys, this is the latest addition to my team; Ghastly."

    When did… what?" Brock clambered.

    "I caught him while you were all sleeping last night." Ash explained.

    "Well, you didn't really catch me so much as I agreed to go with you, but the result is the same. Hello, everyone."

    "I would complain," Carmine said, "but that would make me a hypocrite. I get into all kinds of stuff while you guys are sleeping and don't tell you about it."

    "Wait, what?" Ash asked. "Like what?"

    Carmine smiled. "We should probably get going."
    * * *​
    A few floors up from where Ash's group was, Red and Yellow were trying to make their way up the tower.

    "This was a bad idea." Yellow admitted to herself.

    "Don't feel too bad." Red tried to comfort her. "You had no idea it was going to be like this."

    The two turned around a corner in the pathways between graves and realized they just walked into a dead end.

    "Man, it's so hard to see through this fog." Red commented. "Come on, let's find a different way."

    They turned around and noticed a dark mass rising in front of them.

    "Ooooagh…" The being moaned as it moved closer to them, revealing the form of a woman with long, gray hair and wearing white robes. The woman's eyes were glossed over and she moved like a marionette being controlled by an unskilled puppeteer. "You… should not… have come… here…"

    Each word that came from her mouth between raspy breaths sounded like the gasping of someone who had spent a week wandering through the desert with no source of water.

    "Stay back." Red warned the woman, putting his arm in front of Yellow to shield the girl as she clung tightly to his leg.

    "You… will be… punished…"

    The woman let out a howl as her arms rose up high and a ball of gas sprung out from her mouth. Red sent out his Charmeleon as the ball of gas formed into a Ghastly. Charmeleon blasted the Ghastly with an Ember and the Ghost-Pokémon seemed to explode into nothingness. The woman collapsed onto the ground as the fog around them cleared up.

    "What happened?" The woman asked as she sat back up again. "Where am I?"

    "Where in the Pokémon Tower." Red answered cautiously.

    "Yes. That's right." The woman stood back up. "The other channelers and I were trying to clear up the Ghastly infestation here when something caught us off guard. The Ghastly were able to overpower us and take over our bodies. I didn't… I didn't harm you, did I?"

    "No."

    "That's a relief." The woman wiped her forehead of sweat. "But the others are probably still possessed. You should leave now while you have the chance. I'll work on freeing the others."

    "No." Yellow said to Red's surprise. "We'll help you. What do we need to do?"

    The woman looked at her in astonishment. "Well, I suppose you could try to find the other channelers and free them the way you freed me while I work on expelling the infestation. But be careful."
    Pikachu sat beside a fire that she made herself by gathering some fallen tree branches she found around the island she was on and blasting them with a Thunder Shock. She was stranded on the small deserted island she had washed up on with no way of getting across the ocean that surrounded her in every direction. Her only hope was that some friendly Pokémon or ship would pass by and see her fire.

    "In other words," Pikachu thought to herself, "I have no hope left."

    As she sat there, the fire slowly began to die down over time. Pikachu shifted some of the branches, causing the fire to flare back to life.

    "Well, this is boring." Pikachu muttered to herself.

    "Why, hello there!"

    Pikachu jumped back from the unexpected, deep booming voice that came from behind her.

    "Who are you?" She asked the stranger who had suddenly shown up out of nowhere.

    "Shouldn't that be obvious?" The stranger asked. He appeared to be a Pikachu, but with blue markings around his body. "I am Pikoa, Guardian of the Seas! Do the Pikachu of these regions no longer pass down the stories of my many heroic tales?"

    "I, uh…" Pikachu lost her train of thought for a moment as she noticed that this 'Pikoa' was not standing just offshore as she had originally thought, but on the water itself. "I didn't grow up in the wild. I do not know any of the stories they pass down, about you or otherwise."

    "Oh, okay then." Pikoa sounded a little relieved. "That is understandable. Anyway, I just happened to be Surfing by when I noticed you here. I just wanted to come by and see if you needed any assistance. I happen to be in the business of rescuing stranded Pokémon and people. If you want, I can take you back to the mainland."

    "And what would that cost me?" Pikachu raised one of her eyebrows inquisitively.

    "My, you are quite the mistrustful type. Would you mind if I asked you what happened to make you this way?"

    "I would mind that very much, actually." Pikachu said defensively.

    "Well to answer your question, it will not cost you anything to get a ride back to the mainland." Pikoa said, dropping the subject. "It is my duty to help all those in need of my assistance, with no reward or payment needed."

    "I don't see how anyone could possibly live like that."

    "Trust me, when you live as long as I have, you start seeing things in a different light. Things go away over time, but the impact you can make by doing something good lasts forever."

    "Quit the motivational speech." Pikachu snapped. "Let's just get going already."

    "Alright then, just hop up here." Pikoa gestured to the raised section of water he was standing on. "Don't worry. You will be able to stand on it just fine."

    Pikachu hesitantly approached Pikoa and eyed the water carefully. After a moment of consideration, she hopped onto the wave and, to her surprise, Pikoa was right.

    "Alright then." Pikoa said. "We're off!"

    The two Pikachu sped off towards the mainland. Pikachu silently cursed herself for agreeing to this as she tried to keep herself from getting sick. She had never experienced anything like this before and hoped she never would again.
    * * *​
    Ash stepped out onto the next floor of Pokémon Tower. Ghastly floated along beside him while the others stayed a little bit behind, still uneasy by the presence of the Ghost Pokémon. Ash made his way through the maze of graves, looking down to make sure he stayed on the path when suddenly he crashed into someone and was knocked down to the ground.

    "Ouch." Ash said as he hit the floor.

    "Watch where you're going, loser." Ash recognized the voice instantly.

    "Gary?" Ash stood back up as his rival did the same.

    "Oh, great." Gary gave an exasperated sigh. "I can't believe a loser like you managed to catch up to me. Obviously it's only because the fog is making it so I can't see where I'm going, but still."

    "Who are you calling a loser?" Ash snapped back. "I managed to beat you in our battle!"

    "That?" Gary asked mockingly. "That was simply beginner's luck. Trust me when I say that it won't happen again. In fact, why didn't we have a rematch, right here, right now?"

    "Um…" Ash hesitated for a moment as he looked around at their current surroundings. "Wouldn't that be kind of disrespectful to the dead here? Plus it would be nearly impossible to fight in this environment."

    "I hate to say this, but I guess you're right. As soon as we get back out of here, though, it's rematch time."

    "You're on!" Ash said excitedly as Gary walked off. "Hey, wait! Where are you going?"

    "I'm beating you to the top, obviously. What else?"
    * * *​
    Route 7 was a grassy area that was surrounded mostly by thick trees, much like most of the routes in Kanto. It was here that Daisy saw a city's skyline come into view as she was walking.

    "You see that?" She asked the baby Cleffa cradled in her arms. "That's Celadon City. It's where I'll be fighting my next Gym battle."

    "Cle!" Cleffa raised its hands up joyfully.

    Daisy continued on her way to Celadon, but soon her steps began to falter and she came to a stop as she noticed a nearby bush was rattling violently. A Vulpix suddenly pranced out of the bush, startling Daisy. The orange Fox Pokémon looked up as it noticed Daisy, then turned around and fluffed its tails out tauntingly. Daisy shifted Cleffa into one arm and reached her now free hand into her bag, pulling out a Pokéball and thrusting it out.

    "Bubble!"

    Poliwag came out of the Pokéball and immediately sprayed a barrage of water bubbles from its mouth, blasting the Vulpix with perfect aim. The Vulpix turned back and looked injured, not in body but in pride. The Fire-type's face then turned to anger as its six tails stood on end and began to glow in a blue fire. A similar fire grew around Poliwag and suddenly the Tadpole Pokémon became burned. The injured Poliwag then sprayed a Water Gun at its opponent, nailing Vulpix right in the face. Vulpix retaliated with an Ember, but before the attack even hit, Daisy had thrown an empty Pokéball at it.

    Vulpix was sucked into the Pokéball via the standard red light and the ball shook on the ground a few times. The red light on the front button turned off as the Pokéball stopped moving. Daisy recalled her Poliwag and pulled out her Pokédex to check what it had to say about her new Pokémon as she walked over to pick Vulpix up.

    "Well girl," Daisy said as she picked up the Pokéball. "Welcome to my party. I'm sure you'll be very useful in our next Gym Battle. From what I've heard, the Celadon Gym Leader is a Grass-type specialist." Daisy put the Pokéball in her bag and looked down at Cleffa. "It's nice how things tend to work out like that, don't you think?"

    "Cle,cle!"
    * * *​
    "We did it!" Charmander yelled happily as he, Bulbasaur, Squirtle and Zoroark made their way out of Vermilion. "I can't believe we actually did it!"

    "Don't get too excited, now." Bulbasaur tried to calm Charmander down. "That's only one badge. We still have seven more to go. And that's just to enter the League Tournament. We still have a long way to go before we're done."

    "I know." Charmander looked down at his feet, embarrassed.

    Zoroark, still in the guise of Zahira Darhk, held the Thunder Badge towards the light of the sun, admiring how the light reflected off of it.

    "Are you going to pin that to your jacket?" Squirtle asked her.

    "I'm not wearing a jacket." Zoroark reminded him. "It's just a part of my Illusion ability."

    "Right." Squirtle said. "I forgot about that."

    Zoroark pulled a small dark case out from the inside of her jacket. She opened up the case and placed the Thunder Badge inside. "That being said, I can keep some stuff tucked into my fur. Like this badge case."

    "Where did you get that?" Charmander asked.

    "I got it with the license." Zoroark explained.
    "What was I doing?" A channeler wondered aloud as she picked herself up off the floor, looking over to see Red and Yellow standing in front of them along with Red's Charmeleon."

    "You were possessed," Red explained to the woman.

    "That's right." A sudden look of recognition crossed over the channeler's face.

    "The others that we've been able to free are gathering down below to try and expel the Ghost Pokémon from the tower. You should probably go join them."

    "Of course." The woman walked away hurriedly, being cautious not to accidentally trip over a gravestone or encounter another Ghastly before she made her way to the others.

    "How many more do you think there might be left?" Yellow asked Red as they continued making their way up the Pokémon Tower.

    "I don't know." Red answered honestly. "In fact, I've lost track of how far up we are right now. I don't know how much longer we have until we reach the top."

    "I kind of regret coming up with this idea. But at least we're helping people." Yellow paused for a moment in thought as the next staircase came into view. "I wonder what the others are doing right now."

    "I don't know." Red said as he started to ascend the staircase up to the next floor. "But I guess we'll see after we make it to the top."
    * * *​
    Ash and his group reached another level of the Pokémon Tower. To their surprise, the floor wasn't covered with the same purple fog as the floors below it had been. In fact, the room was filled with a bright, white light. Ash looked over to see a group of women gathered in a circle a little way off from where they were.

    "What's going off over their?" Ash wondered aloud.

    "It looks like they're probably trying to get rid of the ghost infestation." Carmine whispered to him. "It would probably be best not to interrupt them."

    "I agree." Brock chimed in.

    "Hey, Ash, what happened to your Ghastly?" Misty asked quietly.

    "I don't know." Ash said as he looked around some more, just noticing that the Gas Pokémon wasn't there anymore. "He was just behind me a moment ago."

    "Pika, pika." Pika said as he and Volty both motioned down to Ash's waist, where his Pokéballs were resting. Ash held up Ghastly's Pokéball and saw that it was full.

    "If the ceremony that they're casting over there is meant to get rid of the wild Ghastly, then it's probably having a negative effect on yours as well." Carmine pointed out. "He probably had to retreat because of that."

    "Right, that makes sense." Ash put the Pokéball away and started walking ahead again. "Why did we even agree to come to this place, anyway?"

    "We?" Misty asked. "What do you mean 'we'? This is all on you."
    * * *​
    After Daisy finally made her way to Celadon City, she made a quick trip to the Pokémon Center to heal her team and set off to find the local Gym. It didn't take too long for her to find the Gym and she walked in eager to earn her next badge.

    The interior of the Celadon City Gym was filled with bushes and flowers that formed a maze. Daisy had to make her way around without any idea of where she was going for several minutes before she finally made her way to a large open area within the maze. A young woman with shoulder length dark hair stood at the other end of the area in front of a small table with several pictures on it. She seemed to be staring at one picture in particular.

    "Ahem." Daisy cleared her throat to draw the woman's attention. "Are you the Gym Leader?"

    The woman slowly turned towards Daisy. "Oh, uh… yes. I am Erika, Gym Leader of Celadon City. Sorry about that. I was just lost in thought."

    "Then I'd like to challenge you to a Gym Battle." Daisy said.

    "Yes. Of course." Erika reached absently for a drawer under the table behind her. "How many badges do you already have?"

    "Three."

    "Then this will be a three-on-three battle." She pulled a set of Pokéballs out of the drawer. "We will start when you are ready."

    Daisy pulled a Pokéball out of her bag and held it out in front of her. "Alright, girl. I know I just caught you, but do your best."

    Vulpix sprung out from the Pokéball and landed gracefully on the ground in front of Daisy. Meanwhile, Erika called out her first Pokémon, Tangela. Tangela stood cautiously, waiting for Vulpix to make the first move, while the Fox Pokémon sat back and looked at her opponent smugly, as if daring the ball of vines to try anything against her. After a moment, Erika finally gave her Pokémon an order.

    "Use Poison Powder!"

    Tangela spread a wave of poisonous spores through the air in Vulpix's direction, but eh Fire-Typ seemed unfazed. Rather than dodging the attack, Vulpix instead shot forth a blast of fire from her mouth, incinerating the powder before it could even reach her. She then followed by sending the blast further away, hitting Tangela head-on. Tangela then used its Ingrain move, sending some of its vines down into the ground below it to absorb nutrients and restore its health. This gave Vulpix enough time to use another Flamethrower before Tangela could try and attack. After taking the second hit, Tangela tried to use Growth to increase the power of its next attack.

    "Now finish it off with another Flamethrower!" Daisy ordered her Pokémon.

    Vulpix opened its mouth and, rather than sending forth another stream of flames, let out a load Roar that seemed at odds with the Pokémon's small stature. The force of the Roar sent Tangela flying back and it was sucked back into its Pokéball, with Erika's Weepinbell taking its place.

    "What?" Asked Daisy, confused. "That's not what I said to do."

    "You said that you just caught that Vulpix, correct?" Erika asked.

    "Yeah."

    "Sometimes Pokémon will not instinctively follow your orders and choose to do what they want to instead, until they have learned to trust your commands and leadership."

    "I guess that makes sense." Daisy said. She then held out Vulpix's Pokéball and the Fox Pokémon was pulled back inside. "I guess I'll use Butterfree for now, then."

    Daisy tossed another Pokéball into the battle and her Butterfree flew out of it. Or at least, it appeared to fly at first, but quickly fell to the ground, soundly asleep.

    "Oh, right." Daisy muttered to herself. "I forgot about that. I'll guess I'll just have to make due."
    * * *​
    "It looks like the smoke is finally starting to clear away now." Yellow observed as she and Red made their way up another flight of stairs.

    "Yeah, I guess the channelers are making progress with getting rid of the Ghost Pokémon." Red said back.

    "I'm starting to get tired." Yellow said. "Can we take a break?"

    "You don't have to ask me twice." Red said as he sat down on the cold tiled floor. "I've completely lost track of how many stairs we've gone up."

    The two sat there in silence for a while, but that silence was broken by the sound of footsteps coming up the stairs behind them.

    "Gary?" Red asked as the other trainer's spiky brown hair came into view.

    "What, did you losers give up already?" Gary asked back as finished climbing the stairs, clearly exhausted himself. "Well, if you're not going any higher right now, I might as well wait a while."

    Gary sat down next to them and the three all waited there for a moment before more footsteps could be heard. Ash walked up to them, followed by Brock, Misty and Carmine.

    "Hey, guys." Ash said. "Are we all taking a break? I'm fine with that."

    "Actually," Yellow said as Ash and the others started to sit down as well. "I think I'm ready to go now."

    Yellow got up and started walking towards the next staircase, with Red following her there. As they went, however, a sudden chill wind suddenly passed through the room.

    "Maaaaarrooooo…" Came a harsh moan echoing throughout the tower.

    "What was that?" Misty asked aloud.

    "I don't know." Carmine said.

    "Be gone…" The voice came again. "Intruders…"
    Erika ordered her Weepinbell to strike Daisy’s sleeping Butterfree with a Vine Whip. The attack struck the Butterfly Pokémon against the back of her head, but was not enough to wake her up. Erika then followed up by having her Pokémon increase its offensive power by using Growth to increase the size of its vines and strike with another Vine Whip, right across Butterfree’s back. This time Butterfree was snapped awake by the blow and hazily flew up into the air.

    Weepinbell launched a Razor Leaf at the Bug-type before she became fully aware of her surroundings, but was too late. Butterfree effortlessly dodged the attack and retaliated by using its Psybeam attack, sending a wave of psionic energy at her opponent. The powerful attack caused Weepinbell to be sent flying back and crashed into a nearby Oran Tree. Weepinbell lifted itself up from the pile of scattered pink leaves that had been left from the impact and as it hopped away it noticed a small blue object that caught its attention. It quickly swallowed the Oran Berry and was partly revitalized by it. The now reenergized Weepinbell leapt back into battle and grabbed Butterfree with its vines, tightening its grip into a Wrap attack.

    As Butterfree struggled to break out of Weepinbell’s grasp, she fired another Psybeam at her opponent. Weepinbell was stuck by the blast again but was able to hold its ground this time. It slammed Butterfree hard into the ground before she could fire another attack at it and then followed up with another Vine Whip attack. As its mighty vine dropped down where Butterfree laid, the Bug-type quickly rolled out of the way of the attack and took to the air again. Butterfree began flapping her wings hard and created a gust of air laced with powdery scales and blew the Silver Wind attack straight at Weepinbell, who took the brunt of the attack head-on.

    Butterfree felt a surge of energy course through her as Silver Wind’s secondary effect kicked in and she gained a temporary boost to her speed, power and defense while Weepinbell collapsed onto the ground. Erika returned Weepinbell to its Pokéball and sent out her third Pokémon.

    “Gloom, come out and finish this battle.” She said as the blue Weed Pokémon came out of its Pokéball.
    * * *​
    “Leave this place.” A ghostly haze of purple mist materialized in front of Red, blocking the way to the next floor of the Pokémon Tower.

    “What’s going on?” Yellow asked, fear imminent in her voice. “What is that thing?”

    “It’s probably just a Ghastly.” Gary said. “I noticed a few of them on my way up here.”

    “That can’t be.” Carmine pointed out. “All of the Ghastly should have been driven out by the banishing spell that just passed through here.”

    Ash looked around at the others as they reacted to the ghostly apparition, when he heard the voice of the Maiden pass through his head.

    “That’s not just a Ghost-type Pokémon.” She said. “It’s an actual ghost. I’m going to see if I can force it to take its true form.”

    “Hey, wait a minute,” Misty then said, “it looks like it’s doing something.”

    The purple mist suddenly started to pulse and there was a sudden flash of blindingly bright light. It took a moment for everyone’s eyes to readjust themselves, but when they could see again, the mist had been replaced by a Pokémon.

    “That’s a Marowak.” Brock muttered in shock.

    Standing at a little over three feet tall, the Bone Keeper Pokémon hovered just above the ground, its toes almost touching the cold tile floor beneath it. It held a single bone firmly in its right hand as it stared furiously at the humans who had dared to invade this place.

    “Well, I don’t care what it is.” Gary said as he took a step forward. He held up an empty Pokéball and through it at the Marowak, who didn’t react as the ball passed harmlessly through it.

    “What?” Red wondered aloud in astonishment.

    “No problem.” Gary said slyly. “Obviously I just need to weaken it first. Go, Wartortle!”

    Gary held up his starter Pokémon’s Pokéball and waited for Wartortle to come out of it. Nothing happened.

    “I said go!”

    There was still no reaction. The others started to check their Pokéballs as well and quickly discovered that none of them were working.

    “That ghost Marowak must be interfering with the Pokéballs’ internal systems somehow.” Brock suggested.

    The Marowak suddenly let out a roar and assumed a battle stance, holding tis bone club behind it, ready to attack.

    “Great. That leaves us with no way to defend ourselves.” Red sighed.

    “Don’t be too hasty.” Ash said. “even if Pokéballs aren’t working, I’ve still got two Pokémon ready to fight.”

    “Pikachu!” Pika jumped off of Ash’s shoulder onto the ground, ready to defend everyone if necessary.

    “Chu, pika.” Volty did the same.

    “Oh, great.” Gary said sarcastically. “We have two Electric Pokémon to fight off a Ground-Type. However could this go wrong?”

    “Don’t worry about that.” Ash said. “I can just have Pika use Brick Break. It’ll be super effective.”

    “No good.” Carmine pointed out. “That thing’s a ghost, which means Normal and Fighting type attacks won’t effect it either.”

    ‘I didn’t think about that.”

    Marowak then let out another roar and charged forward to attack.

    “What do we do now?”
    * * *​
    Erika’s Gloom released a Sweet Scent from the flower atop its head which spread throughout the area. Butterfree noticed the scent and became enamored by it, stopping what she was doing and leaving her open for a spray of Acid. Butterfree snapped back to its senses after being hit and started flying circles around Gloom, still experiencing the boost that Silver Wind had given her. Gloom tried to lainch another spray of Acid at Butterfree, but missed. Butterfree stopped flying behind Gloom and hit it with a Psybeam. Gloom was knocked flat onto its face by the force of the blow. Before it could get back up again, Butterfree hit it with another Psybeam and then another. After the third hit, Gloom didn’t get back up again, so Erika had no choice but to recall Gloom back to its Pokéball.

    “Yeah!” Daisy shouted in excitement. “We win!”

    “Not yet, you still haven’t defeated my Tangela yet.” Erika said as she called her Vine Pokémon back into battle.

    “Oh, right. I forgot about that.” Daisy said, embarrassed. “But it’s already been weakened, so this should be a piece of cake. Butterfree, use Silver Wind again!”

    Butterfree began flapping its wings heavily like before, but before she could launch the attack, Tangela hit her with a spray of Sleep Powder and Butterfree almost immediately fell to the ground, sound asleep.

    “Oh, bother.” Daisy sighed as she lifted up Butterfree’s Pokéball. “Well, you did good while you were still awake. Now it’s time for Bulbasaur.”

    Daisy was just about to call out her starter Pokémon when suddenly Vulpix came out of its Pokéball. The Fox Pokémon let out a howl as her feet touched the ground and let out a spiraling stream of fire from her mouth. The Fire Spin attack hit Tangela and formed a burning ring of fire around the Grass-type. The move proved too much for the already weakened Tangela and it fainted.

    “Now you won.” Erika said as the flames died down and she called her Tangela back. “Congratulations.”

    Daisy walked up to Erika, who handed her a Rainbow Badge.

    “Thank you.” Daisy said as she took the badge.

    “You know,” Erika said. “You remind me a lot of an old friend of mine.”

    “Really.”

    Erika turned to the picture she had been looking at when Daisy arrived, and Daisy took a closer look at it. The picture showed a younger Erika with another girl, with chestnut brown hair and strikingly blue eyes.

    “Who’s she?” Daisy asked.

    “Her name is Karla. Her parents used to serve my family and we grew up together. We were as close as sisters when we were younger.” Erika gave a depressed sigh. “Though, I haven’t heard from her in years. I have no idea what’s become of her.”

    “That’s sad to hear.”

    “Never mind.” Erika turned back to Daisy. “Anyway, congratulations again on earning the Rainbow Badge. I wish you luck as you continue to make your way through the Pokémon League.”
    Wes was washing his hands in the Adonis Detective Agency’s bathroom when he looked up at the mirror in front of him and stared at his reflection. Recent events had caused a lot of bad memories and old resentment to start bubbling back up inside of him.

    “Why did she have to get involved in all of this?” He muttered to himself. “Just when I thought I was finally moving on with my life and put the past behind me.”

    He studied the details of his face. It was the face he had always had and yet right now he couldn’t even see himself, only his mother. Sure he had brown eyes rather than her blue, but the details of his face her nearly identical and he had inherited her silver hair as a painful reminder of his background. Even his deep tan from living his whole life in the harsh desert of Orre was steadily fading away. The tan line left after he removed the reflective tape he used to wear across his face to keep the desert sunlight out of his eyes had become only faintly visible.

    Wes placed his hands on the sides of the sink and clenched his fists tightly shut. He closed his eyes and relived the events of his mother’s departure when he was just a boy. This didn’t last long, however, as he was suddenly snapped out of it by a knock on the door.

    “Are you okay in there?” Rui asked from outside.

    “Yeah, I’ll be right out.” Wes called back as he put his gloves back on and opened the door. “What’s up?”

    “Oh, not much.” Rui held her hands behind her back and moved her left foot lightly across the floor beneath her. “I was just wondering if you wanted to go out and do something. Maybe go get dinner?”

    A faint smile slowly creased Wes’ lips. He had done a lot of bad things in his life, made a lot of mistakes, but joining up with Rui was not one of them. The girl always knew how to cheer him up. It probably had something to do with her powers, now that he thought about it, but that wasn’t important right now.

    “Sure.” He said. “I could go for some food.”

    “Great!” Rui beamed. “Let’s go find someplace good!”

    Rui turned around and left, Wes following close behind. They made an odd pair, but they were a pair nonetheless. Wes wouldn’t trade their friendship for anything in the world. Maybe his past wasn’t so bad, Wes thought, if it’s what eventually led him to her.
    * * *​
    The members of Team Rocket’s Elite Squadron sat around the long table situated in the main conference room of the organization’s headquarters. Giovanni stood at the end of the table, ready to give them their new orders.

    “I’m sure you are all wondering why I have called you here.” He said as he pushed a button on the table in front of him. The room went dark and an image lit up on the table showing the S.S. Anne shortly before it had set off for its final voyage. “As you all know, this ship sunk just recently under mysterious circumstances. Every passenger and crew member washed up on shore with barely any injuries and yet no one has any recollection of what actually happened. In fact, most of you were there at the time as well and yet none of you have been able to shed any light on the subject. However, we now finally have a lead on what happened aboard that ship.”

    Giovanni pressed another button and the picture of the ship was replaced with an aerial view of the ship surrounded by a pack of Gyarados.

    “It took a lot of resources to get this satellite video feed of the ship’s destruction and even more to make sure that no one else was able to access this same information.”

    Everyone watched as the pack of wild Gyarados surrounded the ship and then as they stopped. A dark figure flew over to the ship and there was a mild commotion before there was a flash of white light and the feed cut out.

    “We do not know for sure what that thing was, but we have reason to believe it has something to do with one of the old Team Rocket’s plans: Project ReBirth.” Giovanni glanced over to Jessie to see the look of recognition pass over her. “Yes, I’m sure that name would be very familiar to you.”

    “But that project never went anywhere.” Jessie pointed out. “My moth-, er, Agent Myra Starr and her team were never able to find what they were looking for, so the project was never able to move forward.”

    Giovani gave a sly smile. “Yes, that’s what you were told. But you have a much higher clearance level than you’ve ever had before. I think it’s time for you, and everyone else here, to learned the truth. While it is true that the scout team never returned from their expedition, they were not emptyhanded. They were able to send back precisely what was needed and the project was carried out in the utmost secrecy on a small island to the southwest. Only a small group of scientists were allowed in on the project and even fewer knew of our involvement. The entire project was then thought lost after an ‘accident’, but it would appear that not everything was as it seemed.”

    “I’m confused.” James interrupted. “What are you talking about?”

    “Oh, yes.” Giovanni turned to him. “You wouldn’t be familiar with this. Then allow me to go into further detail on the subject.”
    * * *​
    The Marowak ghost threw its bone club towards Pika and Volty. The two Pikachu jumped out of the way as the bone spun furiously past them and nearly hit Ash who has standing behind them. The bone then curved around the room and everyone else had to duck as it went soaring over their heads and straight back to the Marowak, who expertly caught it.

    “What do you want?” Misty cried out to the ghost.

    “Leave this place.”

    “Sounds good to me.” Gary quickly made his way towards the staircase leading back down. Suddenly the ghost disappeared for a second and reappeared in front of him. “Hey, I thought you wanted us to leave!”

    “I don’t think it meant for us to leave that way.” Carmine said.

    “Well, what other way is there… oh, wait.” Gary’s face gained an expression of horror at the realization of what he meant.

    Marowak tossed its bone again and Gary had to dive out of the way. The bone arced its way around the room as before and smacked Yellow in the back of her head, knocking the girl unconscious.

    “Yellow!” Red cried out as he grabbed her before she could fall onto the ground.

    “That’s it!” Ash cried furiously. “You’re going down! I don’t care if you can’t be hit by physical or electric moves, Pika, Volty, take that ghost down!”

    The two Pikachu nodded at their trainer and faced their opponent. Volty charged forward with a Quick Attack while Pika jumped up high in the air and came falling down with a Brick Break. Both Pokémon passed harmlessly through the ghost and crashed into each other.

    “That’s no good.” Brock said. “You need to come up with some other strategy.”

    Marowak swung its club down at Volty, who managed to dodge out of the way. The Marowak then threw its bone again.

    “That’s it.” Ash muttered to himself, then turned back to his Pikachu. “Aim for the bone!”

    The two Pikachu both looked at him in confusion and then fired a twin Thunderbolt at the bone as it arced back. The blast knocked the bone off course and it slammed into Marowak’s head, knocking it down.

    “Way to go!” Misty cheered.

    “It’s not over yet.”

    The Marowak grabbed its bone off of the floor and used it to pull itself back up onto its feet. It looked over to Ash in fury and swung its club up, scraping the ground as it went. A huge storm of dust filled half the room and when it faded way everyone that was caught inside was gone, leaving only Gary, Red and the unconscious Yellow alone with the ghostly Marowak.

    “Well, that’s not good.” Gary said bluntly.

    “You think!” Red snapped back at him.
    “Now, off we go.” Daisy said to her Cleffa as she set out from Celadon City and onto Route 16. “At this rate, we might actually be able to pass the others and reach the Pokémon League first.”

    “Cle.” The pink and green baby Pokémon giggled back at her.

    “Oh, that’s right.” Daisy said absently. “You haven’t even met the others yet. I can’t wait until I can show you off to them.”

    “Well, well, well, who do we have here?”

    Daisy turned around to see Giselle walking over to her. She had a smug confidence to her posture that Daisy thought reminded her a lot of her brother Gary.

    “It looks like we meet again.” Giselle said.

    “What are you doing here?” Daisy asked her.

    “The same thing as you. Or so I would imagine, anyway. I’m making my way to the next town and with it the next Gym. Unfortunately, the way is blocked from here. Unless you have a bicycle, Route 17 is completely off limits and this place is little more than just a dead end.”

    “Oh,” Daisy looked down shyly at the ground. “I wasn’t aware of that. I guess I’ll have to find another way.”

    “I see that you’ve been busy since we last met. You even managed to get yourself a baby Pokémon. Those aren’t exactly easy to come by.” Giselle bent down slightly to get a closer look at Cleffa. Suddenly the smugness of her expression faded. “Wait, hold on a minute. Is that a shiny?”

    “No, she’s a Cleffa.” Daisy pointed out.

    “I know that.” Giselle said angrily. “I was asking if she was shiny Pokémon?”

    “I don’t know what you mean.” Daisy said, confused.

    Giselle sighed. “How do you not know what a shiny Pokémon is?”

    Daisy shrugged her shoulders.

    “I shiny Pokémon is a Pokémon that has a different coloration than normal. For example, Cleffa normally have brown ears, not green.”

    “Really?” Daisy held up her Cleffa to take a closer look at the baby Pokémon. “I didn’t even realize that.”

    “Shiny Pokémon are, like, extremely rare. How did you even manage to get one?”

    “She hatched from an egg I was given by a Clefable in Mt. Moon.” Daisy explained as she lowered Cleffa back down into her arms.

    “Fine, if you don’t want to tell me, then don’t.” Giselle sighed.

    “But it’s the truth!”

    “Yeah, whatever. Anyway, I know we’re rivals and all, but since we both need to head back to Celadon and find a different Route to take, would you mind if travel together for a bit?”

    “Um, sure.” Daisy answered, surprised by the question.

    “Normally I wouldn’t ask for something like this.” Giselle tried to defend her own ego. “But it gets kind of boring traveling alone all the time.”

    “I know that feeling well.” Daisy added.

    With that, the two girls turned around and headed back to Cerulean. This was definitely an unexpected setback, Daisy thought, but at least she had a bit of company for the time being. This also gave her a chance to get to know her self-proclaimed rival a little better.

    “So, where are you from?” Daisy asked Giselle.

    “Don’t push it.”

    Then again, getting to know her might be a harder challenge than Daisy thought.
    * * *​
    “What are we supposed to do now?” Gary yelled at Red. “We’re being attacked by a ghost that won’t let us leave, we can’t call out our Pokémon and the others are just… gone.”

    “I am well aware of the situation!” Red yelled back as he lifted Yellow’s unconscious body onto his back. “Just give me a little time to think.”

    “We don’t have time!”

    The Marowak ghost slowly walked up to them, holding its bone club high above its head ready to strike. Gary tried to call out his Wartortle again, but his Pokéballs were still inactive. Marowak struck down with its club, but both trainers were able to dodge out of the way of the blow.

    “Hold on!” Red suddenly shouted. “I think I have a plan.”

    “Good, now would you mind sharing it with the rest of the class?” Gary asked sarcastically.

    “There’s only one ghost, but two of us. If we both head in opposite directions, it won’t be able to stop us both from leaving.”

    “Well, I guess that’s better than just standing around and waiting to get hit.” Gary said as he started running towards the stairs leading back down the tower. “Smell you later!”

    Marowak turned back and forth between Gary and Red as they ran in opposite directions away from it, unsure of what to do. After a moment, it made a decision and bolted straight for Red. Fortunately for him though, he had enough of a head start to reach the stairs and make his way up. Marowak did not follow him.

    When Red had safely made his way to the next floor of the Pokémon Tower and was sure that the ghost was no longer followed him, he gently set Yellow down on the tiled floor and sat down beside her.

    “I don’t remember the last time I’ve been that scared.” He whispered to himself. “But at least we made our way out of that. Now I’m only worried about how we’re supposed to make our way back down from here.”

    Red then looked up to see if he could at least find the staircase leading to the next floor and to his surprise he wasn’t able to find one anywhere. He gently nudged Yellow in an effort to wake her up and after a moment the girl’s eyes finally flickered back open and she sat up.

    “Good to see you’re okay.” He said to her.

    “It depends on what you mean by ‘okay’.” Yellow groaned. “You wouldn’t believe the headache I have right now.”

    “Getting hit in the back of the head with a bone will do that to you.” Red replied. “Anyway, it looks like we’ve finally made it.”

    “Really?” Yellow stood up excitedly and looked around. “Oh, wow. I was starting to think we’d never make it up here. Where are the others?”

    “Well,” Red wasn’t quite sure what to say. “Gary had to make his way back down so that we could get up here and I don’t know what happened to everyone else. They just kind of… vanished.”

    “What do you mean by-” Yellow’s question got cut off as they heard a yell echo across the room. Red and Yellow both looked around to see where it came from and noticed for the first time that they were not alone up there.

    At the other end of the room, an old man lay on the floor, backing away from three men dressed in black uniforms that had a very familiar design to them.

    “Team Rocket.” Red growled. “What are they doing here?”

    Red called out his Charmeleon and Paras, glad to see that his Pokéballs were working again, and they ran over to help the old man.

    “Stay here.” He told Yellow. “This might be dangerous.”

    “Come on, old man.” Said one of the Team Rocket grunts, distinguished by his long, blonde hair tied back in a rather unkempt ponytail. “Just give us the information that our boss wants and this will all be over. No one needs to get hurt.”

    “Hey, who are you?” Another grunt asked as he noticed Red’s approach. This one had short, black hair with large sideburns.

    “Leave him alone!” Red demanded.

    “Look, kid.” Said the third, brown-haired, grunt. “I don’t know who you think you are or how you even managed to get up here, but you should just leave now. A kid like you has no business interfering with Team Rocket, isn’t that right, Ken?”

    “That’s right, Al.”

    “I’m afraid you’re wrong about that.” Red said. His Charmeleon let out a small breath of flame to show that they were serious. “I’ve beaten your kind before and I can do it again.”

    “Alright then.” The blonde grunt sighed. “It’s your funeral. Which is kind of ironic, given where we are right now.”

    “I’m not sure that would actually be considered irony, Harry.” Al replied.

    “Yeah, whatever. Let’s just get this over with.”

    Harry called out his Muk while Ken sent out his Tauros and Al sent out his Hypno.

    “Face it, kid. You’re clearly outmatched here.” Al said.

    “Yeah? Well, we’ll see about that.”
     
    #6 Oct 6, 2017
    Last edited: Nov 6, 2017
  7. BZRich64

    BZRich64 The Mustachioed Machamp

    Pulgasari
    (Aron)
    Level 31
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    “Where are we?” Ash wondered aloud as he, Pika, Volty, Carmine, Misty and Brock woke up in a long, dark tunnel.

    “And more importantly, what’s that smell?” Misty asked, plugging her nose.

    “It sounds like there’s water flowing by us.” Brock observed. “Could this be some kind of underground river?”

    “That, or it could be a sewer.” Carmine said. “I’m inclined to think sewer.”

    “Well, how are we supposed to get back out of here?” Misty asked irritably.

    “I guess we should just pick a direction and walk until we find a way out.” Ash suggested.

    “If we’re doing that, we should probably make sure that we can see where we’re going first.” Carmine pointed out. “Otherwise we could easily end up falling straight into a river of raw sewage.”

    “Yuck.” Misty made a disturbed face, not that anyone noticed it.

    “Right.” Ash said. “Pika, Volty, I think you’ve got this handled.”

    The two Pikachu both let off a series of sparks from their cheeks that dimly lit up the area.

    “Yep, definitely a sewer.” Carmine commented.

    “How do you know?” Misty asked him teasingly. “Have you ever been in one before?”

    Carmine gave a menacing glare in Misty’s direction. “And why are you still here, again? I thought you just came back for the cruise and that’s already over.”

    “I… I just felt like tagging along for a bit longer.” Misty blushed and quickly glanced at Ash for a fraction of a second, though the poor lighting made it almost impossible to notice.

    “Alright,” Ash tried to ease the growing tension. “I guess we should get going now. The less time we spend down here, the better.”

    With that, Ash turned around and walked along the narrow pathway that they were standing on and the others quickly followed after him.
    * * *​
    “Alright,” Squirtle said to the others as they huddled behind the Mossgreen Gym. “From the looks of it, I’d say this place specializes in either Grass or Bug types. Charmander has the type advantage, either way, so he’s our best bet. Are you up to it?”

    “Definitely.” Charmander declared proudly.

    “Okay then. Now that that’s settled, it’s time to go in. Is everyone ready for this?”

    Charmander, Bulbasaur and Zoroark all nodded back at Squirtle and Zoroark walked around to the entrance of the building with the others following close behind her. They entered the Gym and found the leader picking some herbs growing off to the side of the room. She didn’t notice them as they approached, so Zoroark had to clear her throat to draw the Gym Leader’s attention.

    “Oh, sorry about that.” The Gym Leader said as she stood up and turned to face Zoroark. “I didn’t notice you over there. I’m Cassandra, the local Gym Leader. Are you here for a Gym Battle?”

    “Yes.” Zoroark answered. “My name is Zahira and I already have one badge.”

    “Okay, let’s not get wait any longer then.” Cassandra and Zoroark each walked over to the opposite ends of the battlefield. Charmander readied himself while Cassandra sent out her Paras. “Let the battle begin!”

    Paras sent a spray of Stun Spore in Charmander’s direction. The Lizard Pokémon blasted a hole through the spores with an Ember and unleashed an intimidating Growl. Paras retaliated with a Scratch but was unable to put its full strength unto the attack due to the effects of the Growl and Charmander countered the attack with another Ember, forcing Paras to take several steps back.

    Paras shook itself back to its senses and released a spray of Poison Powder at Charmander, inflicting him with poison. Charmander used Ember again but Paras was able to dodge to the side in time to avoid the attack and hit Charmander with an Absorb, draining some of Charmander’s health. Charmander then struck Paras with a Scratch attack and knocked the Bug-type onto its back. Paras tried to roll back up onto its feet but before it was able to, Charmander hit it with another Ember. Paras flailed its legs out widely for a moment before it gave up and passed out.

    “That went by faster than I thought it would. You must be an exceptionally good trainer.” Cassandra commented as she walked over to Zoroark. “Then again I don’t really have much experience with this. Anyway, here you go. You’ve earned this Mushroom Badge.”

    Zoroark took the badge and nodded before placing it inside the badge case tucked inside of her ‘pocket’ before she turned around and left.

    “Well, she’s not very talkative.” Cassandra muttered to herself as she returned to picking herbs. “But I guess it doesn’t really matter.”
    * * *​
    “Woohoo! Made it out alive!” Gary cheered himself on as he took his first steps outside of the Pokémon Tower. He turned around on the off chance that Red was behind him. “Well, I hope they make it out, but there isn’t really anything I can do to help them.”

    “Well, I definitely didn’t think you’d be out of there so soon.” Gary jumped as Kat walked up to him. “I guess you probably didn’t make it all the way up to the top of the tower, did you?”

    “N-no.” Gary admitted reluctantly. “But that doesn’t matter right now. I just want to get out of this crazy place as soon as possible and get back to sanity.”

    “That’s kind of a strange thing to say.” Concern showed in Kat’s voice. “What happened up there?”

    “I do not want to talk about it.” Gary’s turned absently off to the side as he spoke.

    “Alright then, but are you really sure you want to be leaving so soon?”

    “I am very sure of that, yes.” Gary turned back to his cousin.

    “But what if I told you that there was a Gym on the outskirts of the town?”

    “I… wait, what?” Gary was caught off guard by this.

    “Yeah, the Gym Leader here is kind of a recluse, so not very many people even realize that she’s here, but I do know where her Gym is.”

    “Why didn’t you say something earlier?” Gary screamed angrily.

    “I was waiting for a good time to mention it.” Kat shrugged.

    “Well, ‘a good time to mention it’ would have been when we first got here! Or even before that!”

    “Fine, fine.” Kat raised her hands in a motion for Gary to calm down. “I guess I should have mentioned something, but I had no idea you’d act like this.”

    “Wait a minute.” Gary said as he started to calm down and take things in. “Where are the others?”

    “Back in the Pokémon Center. I just came out here to stretch my legs and maybe see when you got back.”

    “Oh, whatever. Let’s just check out that Gym.”
    * * *​
    “That’s two down already.” Bulbasaur said excitedly as they walked away from the gym. “We’re making great progress so far.”

    “Let’s just hope that we can keep it that way.” Squirtle commented.

    “We’ll do fine.” Charmander added. “No one can stop us!”

    “I’m just worried about how long we can keep up this masquerade.” Zoroark said. “I’ve only used my human disguises for short interactions or in large groups where everyone’s attention is divided away from me, using personalities I specifically use to try and make people not want to talk to me for very long. I’m not sure how long I can keep this up, though I will do my best.”

    “I’m sure you’ll be fine.” Bulbasaur tried to comfort the Dark-type. “You’ve been able to do a good job so far, after all.”

    “True.” Zoroark muttered.

    “There is no obstacle big enough to get in our way!” Squirtle announced loudly. “If we put our minds to it, anything is possible! That’s my guiding philosophy and the principle upon which Team Pokémon stands!”

    “Team Pokémon?” Bulbasaur questioned.

    “That’s the name I have chosen for our group and soon everyone will learn to hold that name and all that it stands for with only the highest of honors!”

    “I guess that works.” Charmander said.

    “I think it sounds stupid. I mean what, just because we’re a bunch of Pokémon we should be called ‘Team Pokémon’? What kind of logic is that?” Bulbasaur complained.

    “I like the sound of it.” Zoroark argued. “And being Pokémon is what sets us apart from everyone else.”

    “Exactly!” Squirtle said matter-of-factly. “So then we’re all agreed on the name?”

    “No, we are not.” Bulbasaur said.

    “Perfect!” Squirtle ignored him. “Then onward we go, Team Pokémon! Our destinies await!”
    “Well, that was anticlimactic.” Red said as the three Team Rocket Grunts ran away from him in defeat.

    “Yeah.” Yellow agreed as she walked over to him. “I thought for sure they would at least be a challenge. There Pokémon looked strong, at least. But on the bright side, it looks like Paras is evolving.”

    Sure enough, the Grass and Bug-type Pokémon glowed bright white and grew slightly larger, the two mushrooms on its back combining into a single large mushroom.

    “Neat.” Red called both of his Pokémon back into their Pokéballs and turned his attention to the old man the Rocket Grunts had been harassing. “Anyway, are you alright?”

    “Yes.” The old man responded. “Thank you very much for saving me from those ruffians.”

    “Wait a minute…” Said Yellow, “They just ran back down the tower, but isn’t the ghost still there? In fact, how are we supposed to get back down?”

    “Don’t worry about that.” The old man said as he gestured towards a differently colored tile off to the side of the room. “We had this installed just recently. It’s a state of the art teleport tile, straight from Silph Corp.”

    “Wow!” Red did nothing to hide his surprise. “I’ve heard of these things but I’ve never seen one in person.”

    “Follow me.” The old man walked towards the teleport tile. “I have something I want to give you as a thank you gift for saving me.”
    * * *​
    “Well, this is it.” Said as she and Gary stood outside the Lavender Town Gym.

    Gary hesitated before entering the light purple colored decrepit old building that looked like it hadn’t been used in a very long time. To his surprise, the Gym’s interior was lit entirely by candlelight and he could faintly see the form of a short old lady standing in the center, keeping herself propped up with an old, gnarled cane.

    “I had a feeling someone would be challenging me today.” The old woman said as Gary cautiously approached her. “I am Agatha, the Gym Leader here. And who might you be?”

    “I-“ Gary’s voice cracked as he spoke. “I’m Gary Oak.”

    “Ah, yes.” Agatha muttered to herself. “Oak. I used to train with your grandfather, you know. Sam and I had a rivalry that drove both of us to our limits to try and outdo each other. But that was a very long time ago. Your grandfather decided to pursue a more academic lifestyle, leaving me to train alone. Now, let’s see if you have even half of the battle prowess that Sam had at your age.”

    Agatha tapped her cane against the floor and the shadows around her twisted and turned as a Ghastly rose up from them. Gary grabbed a Pokéball from around his waist and called out his Nidorina. Ghastly’s eyes lit up as it used Hypnosis to try and lull Nidorina to sleep, but Nidorina was able to look away just in time and avoid the effects of the move as she rushed forward and used Bite. A dark aura surrounded her jaw as she clamped down her teeth hard on Ghastly’s face, which allowed the attack to effect the Ghost-type, who flinched, leaving it open to another Bite.

    “If only I could have done this against that ghost.” Gary muttered to himself.

    Ghastly was able to back away from Nidorina before being hit by a third Bite and attacked with Nightshade. A dark flaming wave of energy radiated from the Gas Pokémon and knocked Nidorina back. Ghastly then sped towards Nidorina to try and use Lick on her, but she was able to prevent it by using another Bite just as it reached her. Ghastly flinched again and Nidorina was able to finish it off with one last Bite.

    “Very good.” Agatha said as she recalled her Ghastly to its Pokéball. “But just using the same move over and over again isn’t a very good strategy in the long run, is it.”

    She pulled out a black and green Dusk Ball and called out her second Pokémon, a bluish gray ghosy with a string of red pearls around its neck.

    “Hey!” Gary called out in anger. “I thought Gym Leaders could only use Pokémon native to the Kanto Region!”

    Agatha chuckled back at him. “It is a common mistake to think that Misdreavus cannot be found here, but the truth is that a Ghost can be found anywhere if you know where to look.”

    “Yeah, whatever.”

    Misdreavus opened with an Astonish, fading out of view and and reappearing in front of Nidorina with a terrifying face. Nidorina was caught off guard by the attack and was stunned long enough for Misdreavus to follow it up with a Psywave, blasting Nidorina back. Nidorina quickly got back up to its feet and launched a Poison Sting from its mouth. The tiny purple dart struck Misdreavus right int eh center pearl of its necklace inflicted it with poison.

    Misdreavus tried to use Astonish again, but this time Nidorina was prepared and used Bite as it appeared in front of her, leaving Misdreavus stunned long enough for another Bite. Misdreavus backed away and started floating in circles around Nidorina.

    “That Bite of yours is becoming quite the nuisance.” Agatha said. “Let’s fix that, shall we? Spite!”

    A shockwave flew out from Misdreavus. At first it didn’t seem like the shockwave did anything, but then Misdreavus flew back within Nidorina’s range and she tried to get it with another Bite, but the dark aura didn’t appear and her teeth passed harmlessly though Misdreavus and her jaw clamped together as if there were nothing there.

    “What will you do now?” Agatha taunted Gary.

    “More Poison Sting, obviously.”

    Nidorina launched another purple dart from her mouth which stuck Misdreavus exactly where the first one had. The Screech Pokémon was now showing signs of fatique, which Nidorina took as an opportunity for another Poison Sting. As the dart hit Misdreavus’ pearl, it began to crack and Misdreavus fell to the floor.

    “That was better than I was expecting, but there is no way you will be able to defeat my final Pokémon.”

    “We’ll see about that.” Gary remarked.

    Agatha recalled Misdreavus and sent out a Haunter. Meanwhile, Gary swapped out his own Nidorian for his Wartortle. Haunter attacked Wartortle with a Sucker Punch, its hand moving through the air independently from its body and striking Wartortle right in the face before he could react. Wartortle shot a furious look at Haunter as the evolved Gas Pokémon’s hand returned to it and used Bubble. A stream of water bubbles shot out of Wartortle’s mouth and struck Haunter, slowing down its movements. Haunter tried to swoop in closer to hit Wartortle with a Shadow Punch, but just as it was about to get in range, Wartortle jumped up and used Bite.

    “You just love that move, don’t you.” Agatha said bitterly.

    AS Wartortle fell back down to the gorund, he retreated into his shell with Withdraw. Haunter hit the shell with Shadow Punch, but was unable to do much. As Wartortle hit the ground, a Water Gun shot out from his shell and hit Haunter, causing it to drop down closer to the ground and leaving it open for Wartortle to jump forward and get it with another Bite. Haunter flinched, leaving it open to another Bite, and the battle was won.

    “You did a lot better than I was expecting.” Agatha said. “Perhaps there is still hope for the Oak family after all. Take this Spectre Badge. You’ve earned it after all.”

    Gary took the badge, which resembled a dark gray Yin-Yang symbol.

    “Thanks.” He said as he turned to walk away. As he left the Gym with Kat, he turned to his cousin. “Did you know about her and Grandpa?”

    “No.” Kat answered. “I’ve never actually met Agatha before and I’ve never heard Grandpa mention him. It was definitely news to me.”

    “Huh.” Gary shrugged. “I mean, I knew he was a trainer at one point, but I’ve never really thought about it before. I wonder if he had any other rivals.”

    “Who knows? Maybe we should ask him when we get the chance.”

    “No thanks. It’s not really all that important.”

    “Yeah, you may feel that way, but I want to learn more. I’m going to get Grampa to tell me about his time as a trainer whenever we finally get back home.”
    The Teleport Tile sent Red, Yellow and the old man directly to the first floor of the Pokémon Tower and from there the old man led the two kids to a nearby building.

    “This is the Volunteer Pokémon House.” The old man said as he opened the front door. “I opened this place up many years ago as a place to take care of abandoned Pokémon.”

    Several Pokémon were scattered around the house, enjoying themselves. On the far side from the entrance, a girl around Red’s age was tending to an injured Cubone.

    “This is Reina. She’s our only volunteer here at the moment, but she does more than enough work to make up for that.”

    “Thank you, Mr. Fuji, but I just do what I can.” Reina blushed as she accepted the compliment.

    “Though I suppose you two would be more interested in hearing about Cubone. You see, that Cubone is the son of the Marowak ghost that you encountered up in the tower.”

    Red and Yellow weren’t sure what to make of this revelation.

    “Not too long ago a group of evil-hearted Team Rocket members attacked and killed Cubone’s mother. When we found them shortly afterward, we took Cubone in and made sure that Marowak had a proper burial in the tower, but then her spirit started to haunt the floor she was buried in and attacking everyone in sight. I went up there to try and calm her down, but then those three you fought showed up and only agitated her spirit further, trapping us on the top floor.”

    “Wait, you were attacked?” Reina gasped.

    “I will explain later.” Mr. Fuji told her before turning his attention back to Red and Yellow. “Now I’m afraid I will have to go up there again to calm her down, but in the meantime, I wanted to give you a gift for saving me.”

    Mr. Fuji walked over to a nearby set of drawers and picked up a small case and some sort of wooden flute. He then walked back to them and handed the flute to Yellow.

    “This is a Pokéflute. They say that the sound it makes is capable of waking up any sleeping Pokémon.” He then turned to Red and handed him the small black case. Red opened it up to find a small black bracelet and some sort of marble that shone blue and yellow as light reflected off of it. “I don’t know for sure what this is, but I feel that it will come in handy for you at some point.”

    “We can’t take these.” Red insisted.

    “Nonsense! I’m giving them to you because I want you to have them. Are you really going to turn down an old man’s generous offer like this?”

    “I-I guess not.” Red said.

    “Good. Now, I wish you the best of luck in your travels!”
    * * *​
    Daisy and Giselle were just reaching the outskirts of Celadon City when they found their path blocked by two men on motorcycles.

    “Now what do we have here?” One of the men mockingly asked the other. He was a thin man with a spiked Mohawk and a brown leather coat. “Yo, Cue Ball, what do you make of this?”

    “Looks like a couple kids trying to make their way past our turf.” The other man said. He was a very heavyset man with a black vest and his head was cleanly shaven to the point where light reflected off of it as if his scalp were made of glass.

    “That’s what I thought.” The first biker said. “But surely no one would be that stupid, right?”

    “Not unless they want a beatin’.” ‘Cue Ball’ agreed.

    “Get out of our way.” Giselle ordered the two bikers.

    “Oh, this girl thinks she can just go and order us around like we’re her servants or something. Well, guess what, girlie: The Gyarados Gang down’s take orders from nobody!”

    Giselle smirked. “That’s a double negative, which means that you do take orders from somebody. And I guess right now that somebody would be me.”

    “Why you little-” The first man said, gritting his teeth. “Come on, Cue Ball, it’s time we teach these two a lesson on respecting their elders.”

    “I guess this will be our first team battle.” Giselle said to Daisy. “Two rivals teaming up to fight off a common enemy. It’s almost poetic, don’t you think.”

    Daisy, who had been looking on in horror as Giselle had somehow managed to make a bad situation even worse for them, meanly sighed as she pulled out one of her Pokéballs.
    * * *​
    “What do you think it does?” Yellow asked Red as the made their way out of Lavender Town. Red had put the bracelet on his right wrist and was examining it closely.

    “I’m not sure.” Red answered as he pulled out the marble-like object. He held the strange gemstone up to the bracelet and noticed there was a small opening just large enough to put the marble in. He inserted the marble into the bracelet and found that it fit perfectly.

    “It looks good on you.” Yellow smiled.

    “Yeah, but I’m sure there’s more to this thing than just a fashion accessory. Oh, well. We’ll figure it out eventually I guess.”

    The two continued walking in silence as they made their way along Route 8 until eventually Yellow turned to Red.

    “I think someone’s following us.” She said to him.

    Red turned around and saw that there was indeed someone following them. A young woman with long purple hair that Red recognized as the woman that had been asking Yellow about ghosts yesterday.

    “Can I help you with something?” He asked her.

    “No, not really.” She replied.

    “Then why are you following us?”

    “Oh, no reason. I was bored and thought you looked interesting. I thought that if I went with you for a while, something might happen.”

    “Well, you can’t just follow someone around without their permission.” Red said.

    “Alright then. Can I go with you for the time being?”

    Red thought for a moment, but couldn’t really think of a good reason to say no. “Um, sure, I guess. At least until we get to Saffron.”

    “Oh, good.” The woman clapped her hands together.

    “I’m Yellow and this is Red.” Yellow greeted the girl. “What’s your name?”

    “You may call me Sable.”
    * * *​
    “How much longer do we have to go?” Misty whined as she, Ash, Carmine and Brock continued to make their way through the sewer tunnel they had become trapped in.

    “Who knows?” Brock answered. “We don’t even know where we are right now. We might not even be in Kanto right now.”

    “In fact, it was a ghost that sent us here, so for all we know we’re actually stuck in the Distortion World for all eternity.” Carmine joked.

    “That’s not funny.” Misty said angrily.

    “I’m just messing with you. According to the map on my Pokégear, we’re somewhere between Lavender Town and Saffron City, heading towards Saffron.”

    “Wait, you’ve had that the entire time?” Misty asked. “Why didn’t you say something earlier?”

    “No one asked.” Carmine replied. “Besides, it’s not like this thing will tell us where the sewer exit is. I can’t make a call from down here.”

    “But can you at least tell us how far much longer we have to go until we reach Saffron City?” Ash asked. “There should be some way out over there.”

    “It shouldn’t be too much further. Although it’s hard to tell because I lost the signal for the map a little while ago.”

    “Well, this is just great.” Misty said, “Just when we get some sort of hope about knowing when we’re getting out of this stupid place, it just goes away. We’re going to be down here for the rest of our lives, aren’t we?”

    “Don’t be ridiculous. There was to be a way out somewhere and we’re going to-”

    “Going to what?” Ash asked as Carmine didn’t finish his sentence. When no reply came, Ash turned around to see Carmine, Misty and Brock all standing still. Something seemed off about their eyes. Ash started to walk back to them, but just as he took the first step, suddenly a loud chattering sound echoed through the tunnel and he, Pika and Volty all had to cover their ears to try and block out the horrible noise. He tried to yell over the deafening noise, though of course no answer came. Ash turned around again and saw ten glowing eyes come into view ahead of him as the shadowy silhouettes of some unknown Pokémon made their way closer to him.
    Daisy and Giselle stood with their Ivysaur and Cubone, respectively. Across from them, the two bikers had sent out a Grimer and a Weezing. Daisy waited for their opponents to make the first move so that she could counter them, but Giselle was the first to act.

    “Bonemerang!”

    Cubone tossed its bone club at Weezing. The impact of the attack knocked Weezing to the ground where was then hit by a Vine Whip from Ivysaur. Grimer tried to help its ally by distracting Cubone and Ivysaur with a Sludge attack, launching a poisonous blood from its mouth at Cubone. Cubone dodged to the side and tossed another Bonemerang. This one struck Grimer head-on, but the bone became stuck in Grimer’s gooey body, making Cubone unable to retrieve it.

    “That was a miscalculation.” Giselle said as she bit her thumb lightly in frustration.

    “Hold on, I have an idea.” Daisy said to her. “Ivysaur, use cut on that small tree over there!”

    Ivysaur looked over to where Daisy was motioning and saw a small sapling growing out of the ground. She launched a Razor Leaf at the base of the tree which cut cleanly through it. Giselle was confused by this at first at first but quickly realized what Daisy was doing and ordered her Cubone to retrieve the fallen sapling. The baby tree was larger and heavier than the bone it was used to wielding, but that did not stop Cubone from putting the makeshift weapon to good use. Cubone smacked Weezing back into the ground just as the Poison Gas Pokémon had lifted itself back up. Ivysaur Tackled Koffing and sent it rolling straight into Grimer, knocking Cubone’s club out of its ooze. Cubone grabbed its club off the ground and used Focus Energy before smacking Weezing with both weapons. The force of the blow shook through Weezing and into Grimer, knocking them both out.

    “Well, well, well.” Giselle said tauntingly at the two bikers. “And who was supposed to be teaching whom a lesson here?”

    “Why you little…” Cue Ball started to say before his speech gave haw to unintelligible angry gibberish.

    “You may have gotten lucky this time,” the other biker said, “but if we ever see your faces around these parts again, you will rue the day you ever messed with the Gyarados Gang!”

    The two recalled their Pokémon and rode off furiously.

    “And here I thought they’d at least be a challenge.” Giselle said before turning to Daisy. “Nice thinking, with the tree club idea. I hate to say this, but it looks like we actually might make a good team after all.”

    “Wait, does that mean you didn’t think we’d work well together?” Daisy asked.

    “Not at all. Now come on, let’s go.”
    * * *​
    Ash took several steps back as the heavily shadowed figured continued their approach towards him. He didn’t know what they were and he wasn’t particularly interested in waiting around to find out, but he wasn’t about to abandon his friends either. Carmine, Misty and Brock remained motionless as if being held in place by something and Ash quickly realized that Pika and Volty had frozen up now as well.

    “Now what do I do?” Ash asked aloud.

    “That’s up to you.” Ash jumped as Ghastly suddenly appeared next to him but before he could say anything else, the creatures came into view.

    “Are those… Raticate?” Ash wondered in surprise.

    “Don’t be fooled.” Ghastly said. “They may look like normal Raticate at first, but they are more than that. That’s a Raticate King.”

    “What?”

    “When a Raticate’s tail gets tangled up with another’s, their minds become momentarily linked until they can be separated. Normally this wouldn’t be a problem, but when five Raticate manage to get their tails together at once they become what is known as a Raticate King. Legends say that they gain powerful psychic powers in the process and no longer have the ability to be safely be removed from each other.”

    “I’ve never heard of that before.” Ash said as the Raticate King came closer. Ash could now see the knot in their tails that connected them.

    “I’m not surprised. To my knowledge, a Raticate King has not surfaced in hundreds of years. This is a troubling turn of events indeed.”

    “So are they preventing the others from moving?”

    “It would look that way. I appear to be unaffected due to my Ghost-typing, but I have no idea why you are not affected by their control.”

    “Well, we don’t really have time to think about that right now. Use Shadow Ball to fend them off.”

    “I’m afraid I haven’t fully regained all of my energy from the banishment spell earlier.” Ghastly said. “I don’t think I have enough strength for that right now, but I’ll see what I can do.”

    Ghastly spread its gaseous body towards the Raticate King as it approached. The Raticate King stopped as it inhaled the poisonous fumes, coughing violently. Ash tried to come up with a plan while it was distracted but could only think of one thing to do.

    “Pokéball, go!” He tossed the small red and white ball at the Raticate King with as much force as he could muster, but the Pokéball merely bounced harmlessly off of it.

    “That won’t be nearly enough.” Ghastly explained. “A Raticate King isn’t going to be captured by just a regular Pokéball.”

    “Noted.” Ash said, looking around desperately for something else as the Raticate King resumed its steady approach towards them. After a moment, he ran up to Carmine and started rifling through his bag. He pulled out what he was looking for just as the Raticate King finally caught up to him and pounced. There was a flash of yellow light and the Raticate King was gone, leaving Ash lying on the floor, clutching an Ultra Ball tightly in hand as the others regained movement around him.

    “Guys!” He yelled at them. “You’ll never believe what just happened!”

    “We already know.” Carmine responded. “And I would appreciate it if you wouldn’t go through my stuff without permission.”

    Ash blushed as Pika and Volty hopped back up onto his shoulders. “Sorry, it was the only thing I could think of.”

    “I know. That’s why I’m going to let you keep that thing.”
    * * *​
    Gary walked into the Lavender Pokémon Center after defeating Agatha. Mal, Ciel and Sue were all still sitting in the lounge area as he approached the front desk.

    “Hello and welcome to the Lavender Town Pokémon Center!” The nurse said joyfully. “May I heel your Pokémon?”

    “Yeah, sure, whatever.” Gary said unenthusiastically as he placed his Pokéballs on the tray she was holding out to him. He turned back as she put the tray into the healing machine beside her. Kat walked in after him and met up with the others. Meanwhile, a strange woman with bushy purple hair walked up to Gary.

    “Do you believe in ghosts?” She asked him.

    “Yeah, why?”

    “No reason.”

    The woman left without another word as Gary turned back to the nurse to get his Pokémon back.

    “Here you go. We hope to see you again!”

    Gary gave the nurse a half-hearted grin as he walked left to go meet up with his cheerleaders. The strange woman had walked over to the opposite side of the Pokémon Center and was staring at Gary. He gave her a sour look before turning to the others.

    “Alright, I’m all done here. Let’s get going before we all get haunted or something.”

    “Sounds good to me!” Mal said as she stood up. “Come on girls, we’re finally getting out of this place.”

    “You know we haven’t been here for more than a few hours, right?” Gary pointed out.

    “And that’s still too long.” Said Ciel. “This place gives me the creeps.”

    “Where are we going next, anyway?” Sue asked.

    “I say we head north to Rock Tunnel.” Kat suggested.

    “Why would we go that way? Gary asked her. “Wouldn’t that just take us back around to Cerulean? Why would we want to go back there?”

    “Because there’s another Gym Leader there.” She explained. “Like Agatha, he tends to keep to himself so most Trainers don’t realize he’s there, but it’s not that far, so you might as well challenge him and get another Gym over with.”

    “I guess I can’t argue with that logic.” Gary said, then realized something. “But wait a minute, don’t all Gyms need to be in a city or town?”

    “That’s a common misconception. Most Gyms are in major settlements to make them more accessible, but it’s not actually a rule. It’s one of the major reason most trainers don’t realize this Gym Leader is there.”
    Ash stared at the Ultra Ball in his hand as he continued to make his way through the sewers. The others followed him closely, ready to finally find the exit and make their way back to the surface.

    “What are you going to do with that thing anyway?” Carmine asked Ash.

    “I’m not sure. I don’t know if the Raticate King counts as a single Pokémon or five. For all I know, just having this thing brings me over the maximum Pokémon Team limit and I can forget actually trying to use it in official battles.”

    “If you were able to catch it with just the one Ultra Ball, then it counts as only a single Pokémon, somehow. Although I’m not sure if I’d want to use that thing if I were you.”

    “Why not?” Ash asked as he put the Ultra Ball back along his belt.

    “I’ve dealt with powerful and unusual Pokémon like that before.” He absently held up a Heavy Ball from his own belt and stared at the gray and blue sphere. “From what I’ve seen, the best thing to do is to simply make sure that they stay under control. When you become a powerful enough trainer, you should be able to train it but even then it should probably only be a last resort.”

    “Wait, what Pokémon do you have in there?” Brock asked curiously.

    “It’s none of your business.” Carmine put the Heavy Ball back down around his waist.

    “I think I see an exit!” Misty yelled excitedly, pointing over to a hatch on the ceiling just ahead of them with a ladder leading up to it. “We can finally get out of this stupid place!”
    * * *​
    “Celadon City!” Squirtle shouted out dramatically as the city’s skyline came into view. “Or at least it should be, anyway. I’m not sure where else it would be.”

    “You know, this is going much faster than I thought it would.” Zoroark said.

    “That’s probably because we haven’t really been doing anything else. If we were actually training between Gym battles or even just had other stuff come up, I’m sure this would take much longer.”

    “We’ll train when we need to train!” Said Squirtle. “But for now we seem to be doing fine without it.”

    “But how long do you think it will take before we reach that point?” Charmander asked.

    I’d say right after this Gym, actually. Once we have three Gym Badges the Gym Leaders are going to start using three Pokémon each, which will make things much harder for us.”

    “Well, we have three Pokémon ready to fight, so it shouldn’t be that big of a deal.”

    “Yes, but we have to keep type matchups in mind. Also, it will get even harder once we get to the point where the Gym Leaders will be using full teams of six Pokémon.”

    “Wait, what?” Charmander was thrown off guard by this. “How are we supposed to put up with that?”

    “That’s actually rather simple, my friend. We just have to get that strong. After all, the whole point of our mission is to prove ourselves as the strongest this land has ever seen.”

    “I thought we were just proving that we don’t need trainers.” Bulbasaur pointed out.

    “And looking for my son.” Zoroark added.

    “Okay, so I guess we each have our own personal reasons for doing this, but the point still stands. If we do not become strong enough to do this, then we will never be able to accomplish our goals. Except you, Zoroark. Strength shouldn’t have anything to do with finding your son.”

    “But we’ll need to fight that monstrous woman who kidnapped him.”

    “I stand corrected. Anyway, onward towards our next victory!”
    * * *​
    The roads of Saffron City were uncharacteristically quiet as a lone manhole cover was lifted up from the ground and Ash, Misty, Brock and Carmine crawled up onto the empty street.

    “Finally!” Misty said with a sigh of relief as she laid back onto the cold, hard pavement. “I never want to see another sewer as long as I live.”

    “We do seem to have a strange habit of ending up stuck in dark confined spaces.” Brock pointed out.

    “Well, I guess we should head over to the nearest Pokémon Center and rest up, right Carmine? Carmine?” Ash looked over at the older trainer and saw that he was looking around at the surrounding area. “What’s wrong?”

    “We’re in the middle of a road in the largest city in the region in the middle of the afternoon.” Carmine muttered. “This whole area should be teaming with people, which brings up the important question, where is everyone.”

    “He’s right.” Brock said. “I can’t see anyone around here.”

    “Maybe it has something to do with why the city has been blocked off for so long?” Misty suggested.

    “But that just brings us back to why the entire city would be shut down. That’s not something that just happens unless there’s some kind of major disaster going on.”

    “Okay, let’s just keep calm and head to the Pokémon Center.” Ash said. “If there’s someone there, we can ask them what’s going on. If there isn’t for some reason, we can at least rest for a bit.”

    “I’m up for that.” Misty said as the group began making their way down the road. “I feel like we’ve been walking non-stop for hours now.”

    “That’s probably because we have been.” Carmine sighed.
    * * *​
    “Well, it looks like we’re taking the Underground Tunnel to Celadon.” Red said as he, Yellow and Sable stood outside the closed off gateway leading into Saffron City. “I really thought they’d be open by now. How does an entire city get shut down, anyway?”

    “Something dark is stirring in there.” Sable said ominously. “It’s for the best that we don’t enter there.”

    “Okay…” Red wasn’t sure how to respond to that. “Anyway, let’s head back to the tunnel.”

    “We can use Abraham to get through it quickly like we did last time.” Yellow said as they turned around and started heading over to the entrance way they had passed by just a few minute earlier.

    “Although it is starting to get dark.” Red noticed. “We should probably camp out here for the night before we head down there.”

    “Sure!” Yellow said cheerily. “That sounds like a good idea.”

    “Whatever you say.” Sable said dryly. “Though I was hoping we’d be able to do something more interesting.”

    “Like what?”

    “I don’t know, just something.”

    “Well, we’re camping for the night outside the entrance to the Underground Path.” Red said. “And then in the morning, we’ll use Teleport to get across to Celadon as quickly as we can. If you want something to do, there should be plenty available there.”

    “I guess that works.” Sable relented.

    “Great. Although I just remembered that I still only have one sleeping bag.”

    “That’s fine. I don’t really need one anyway.”

    “And here we are.” Yellow said as the three walked up to a small building along the side of the route.

    “I suppose we should set up camp now, then.” Red pulled out his sleeping back and handed it to Yellow, who laid it down on the ground. “I’m going to go gather some wood for a fire. Do you want to help, Sable?”

    The strange woman was looking off into the distance, up at the treetops. “What? Oh, no. I’m good.”

    “What are you looking at?” Yellow asked her.

    “Nothing. I just thought that I… uh… heard something. It’s nothing.”
    * * *​
    “Finally.” Pikachu thought to herself as she once again felt Yellow’s presence nearby. “I thought I had lost her for good, but now she should be just up ahead.”

    Pikachu jumped from treetop to treetop as she felt the presence grow closer and closer. Soon she felt Abraham’s presence enter her mind as well.”

    “What took you so long?” She asked him.

    “Sorry. I’ve just been distracted lately by stuff that’s happened. I’ll give you the details later.”

    “What kind of stuff.”

    “We had a run-in with a ghost and now we have a new person with us.”

    “What?” Pikachu couldn’t hide her shock.

    “Yeah. Not really sure what to make of her, though. She’s been acting kind of off and she seems to be able to shield herself from my telepathic abilities so that I can’t read her mind. But at the same time, she hasn’t really done anything yet to suggest she’s hostile or dangerous and there’s something about her that just seems… familiar.”

    “What do you mean?”

    “I’m not sure how to explain it, but I guess you’ll see what I mean in just a moment.”
    “Hello?” Ash called out as he walked into the Pokémon Center, which seemed to be as deserted as the streets outside. “I guess there’s no one here, either.”

    He headed over to a coach situated on the right-hand side of the room and sat himself down, relieved to finally rest for a while. Misty and Brock both sat down as well. Carmine, on the other hand, walked straight to the counter where a nurse would normally be standing by to heal trainer’s Pokémon.

    “I’m going to see if I can find any clues as to what’s going on.” He said as he hopped over the counter. “Stay there until I get back.”

    “That shouldn’t be a problem!” Ash yelled back to him.

    “And for the love of Lugia, keep your voices down. We have no idea what could be listening.”

    Carmine walked back and knocked lightly on the first door he passed before checking to find nothing but empty rooms. Eventually, he reached the last door and knocked on it. He thought he heard a faint shuffling noise come from the other side. He opened the door slowly and immediately had to duck down to avoid an Egg Bomb aimed directly at his egg.

    “S-stay back.” A panicked-looking nurse sat on the floor on the opposite end of the room beside an angry Chansey that was ready to toss another Egg Bomb.

    “I’m not here to hurt you.” Carmine said a reassuringly as he could while holding his hands up to show his lack of violent intent. “I just want to know what’s going on here.”

    “How could you possibly not know that?” The nurse asked, surprised.

    “My traveling companions and I have just arrived here.”

    “That’s impossible. The entire city is blocked off.”

    “I know. We had an unfortunate trip through the sewers that lead us just a few blocks away from here. If you don’t believe me, then the smell should probably be enough proof.”

    Both the nurse and Chansey took big sniffs and immediately recoiled.

    “Now,” Carmine continued, “What exactly is going on here.”

    “They took over the city.” The nurse said frantically.

    “Who took over the city?” Carmine asked.

    “They blocked off all the exits and forced everyone into their homes.” The woman was becoming more and more panicked as she recalled the events of what happened, not even hearing Carmine’s words. “All communications have been cut off so that we can’t get help.”

    “But who did this.” Carmine grabbed the nurse by her arms and held her tightly, trying to snap her out of her panic.

    “T-Team… Team Rocket.”

    Carmine released his grip and both he and the nurse slumped down onto the floor.

    “Team Rocket did all of this?” Carmine asked absently.

    “Yes, but they weren’t alone. They had help.”

    “From who?”

    “Sabrina.”
    * * *​
    “Welcome to the Celadon Gym. My name is Erika and I am the Gym Leader here.” Erika introduced herself as Zoroark and Charmander approached her.

    “I’m Zahira,” Zoroark said, “and I’m here to challenge you to a Gym Battle.”

    “Very good then.” Erika smiled. “I’ll just pull out my Pokémon then, shall I?”

    Erika grabbed a Pokéball out from underneath the sash of her kimono and called out her Tangela as Charmander readied himself for battle.

    “Let the battle commence.” Erika said as Tangela lifted up a pair of dark blue vines from its body in preparation to attack.

    Charmander let out an Ember as Tangela’s vines swung down, forcing the Vine Pokémon to abandon its Vine Whip attack and use Ingrain instead, growing roots down into the soil below to steadily regain health. Charmander charged toward its now immobile opponent and hit it with a Scratch attack. Tangela retaliated with a Vine Whip, knocking Charmander back, but Charmander hit Tangela with an Ember as he fell and caused some of Tangela’s vines to catch on fire.

    Tangela started flailing itself around in an attempt to put out the flames, leaving itself open to another Ember, which caused Tangela to fall over. The flames were put out as Tangela hit the ground but it also severed the roots of Tangela’s Ingrain. Charmander hit it with another Ember as Tangela got back up and then slapped Charmander hard with a Vine Whip and knocked him down. As Charmander got back up onto his feet, Tangela grabbed him with its vines and tightly squeezed him with Constrict.

    Charmander tried to hit Tangela with another Ember but was unable to take a deep enough breath to launch the attack. After a couple minutes, Tangela released its grip and slammed Charmander into the ground. Charmander forced himself up with great effort and let out one final Ember, which hit Tangela but was not strong enough to defeat the Grass-type.

    Both Pokémon were now physically exhausted and the battle has no a matter of seeing who would land the next blow. Tangela sent out one of its vines to his Charmander again, but Charmander was able to use Scratch to stop the vine before it hit him. Tangela tried again several more times, but Charmander was able to stop the attack each time until finally Tangela’s strength gave out and it collapsed.

    “Congratulations!” Erika said as she recalled Tangela and walked over to Zoroark. “Here’s your Rainbow Badge!”

    Zoroark took the badge and picked up Charmander, heading out of the Gym. When she exited the building, Squirtle and Bulbasaur were there waiting for them.

    “How did it go?” Bulbasaur asked.

    “We won, just barely.” Zoroark said as she lowered Charmander onto the ground.

    “I’m surprised I even managed to hold out as long enough to win. If the battle had gone on just a few seconds longer I probably would have lost.” Charmander said as Squirtle handed him an Oran Berry that he accepted graciously and downed in one gulp. “Oh, that’s much better. I can already feel my energy coming back.”

    “Well, it sounds like we should probably start training now to make sure we can stand up to stronger opponents.” Squirtle said. “It will only get harder from here and we can no longer rely on just our base strength.”

    “Weren’t we just talking about that this morning?” Bulbasaur asked.
    * * *​
    “Sabrina?” Carmine tried to make sure that he heard that right. “You mean a Gym Leader has joined forces with Team Rocket?”

    “Yes.” The nurse confirmed. “Well, sort of.”

    “What do you mean?”

    “I didn’t witness what happened first hand, so I only have rumors to go off of. From what I’ve heard it sounds like Sabrina confronted Team Rocket when they arrived but was defeated and knocked unconscious by a mysterious woman who wore a white mask over half of her face. Team Rocket then took her away, only for her to come back several days later working for them. No one knows why he would have joined them.”

    Carmine remembered their confrontation with the masked woman back in Mt. Moon. He hadn’t noticed anything particularly off about her besides the half-mask, but Ash had seen something about her which was enough to make Looker worried. He still wasn’t sure what that meant, but it couldn’t be good.

    “Well, there’s nothing we can really do about that now. Is it okay if my companions and I stay here for a while to freshen up before we head out?”

    “Uh, of course. This is still a Pokémon Center after all.”

    “Thank you. I’ll let them know and we’ll try to see if there’s anything to do to help.”

    With that, Carmine left the room and headed back to the entrance, leaving the nurse and Chansey behind. He wasn’t sure what to make of the current situation. A hostile takeover of an entire city seemed wildly out of character for Giovanni, so what was he planning? And how did they manage to recruit a Gym Leader? Carmine tried to push these thoughts to the back of his mind as he made his way back to the front counter.

    “There’s a lot we need to talk about.” He said as he hopped back over the counter. “Team Rocket is here and-”

    The nurse walked up to the counter in case anyone needed to heal their Pokémon, just in time to see Carmine clench his fists tightly as he looked angrily at the empty couch.

    “Is something wrong?” She asked him.

    “I told them not to leave.” Carmine said behind gritted teeth. “So what did they do? They left, of course.”

    “Oh no.” The nurse gasped.

    “It’s all right.” Carmine turned back to her. “They should be able to handle themselves for the time being so long as they don’t draw attention to themselves and I’m going to go find them.” He took a brief sniff. “Right after I take a quick shower.”
    “This is it.” Kat said as Mal pulled up the car outside the southern entrance to Rock Tunnel. “The Gym Leader should be right in there.”

    “What kind of Gym Leader operates from inside a cave?” Gary asked her as he got out of the car. “Is there even an actual Gym here?”

    “There used to be one right over there, actually.” Kat pointed to the nearby cliff face. “It was destroyed in a landslide not too long ago. It was just a few weeks after I came here during my Pokémon journey, actually. I haven’t heard when they plan on rebuilding it but the leader has been staying in the cave for now.”

    “You do know that there’s a difference between a tunnel and a cave, right?” Ciel asked.

    Both Gary and Kat glared at her, causing Ciel to back away behind her sister, Mal.

    “Anyway,” Gary said. “Let’s get going.”

    Gary walked over to the tunnel entrance and stepped inside. It was dark inside Rock Tunnel but enough light filtered in through the entranceway that he was able to see. Kat, Mal, Ciel and Sue all went in after him so that they could cheer him on during his battle.

    “So where is this supposed Gym Leader supposed to be, anyway?” Gary asked, seeing that the tunnel appeared to be completely empty.

    “He should be in here somewhere.” Kat said.

    Gary sighed and leaned against the wall of the tunnel, hoping that this wasn’t just some wild Farfetch’d chase. He thought that the wall seemed unusually cold and smooth, almost like metal when suddenly it began to shake. Gary had to back away from the wall as it shifted and began sliding rapidly along. It continued moving for several minutes before finally the disappearing and revealing the small candle-lit opening behind it. A large highly-muscled man with long, dark bushy hair sat there, deep in meditation.

    Gary took a cautious step towards the man, who immediately stood up onto his feet. The large man towered over Gary and the others as he opened his eyes and looked down at Gary.

    “You are here for a Gym Battle.” It wasn’t a question. “Come, we shall do battle outside.”

    The man walked right past Gary towards the entrance to the cave and motioned over his shoulder for Gary to follow him. Gary did so hesitantly and they all exited the cave.

    “I am Bruno.” The large man said as he turned around to face Gary. “I am the Fighting-type specialist of the Kanto Gym Leaders and member of the Elite Four.”

    “My name is Gary Oak.” Gary said, is confidence returning as the shock of the cave moving and Bruno’s sudden appearance wore off. “I’m an up and coming trainer who already has five badges and I’m about to earn my sixth.”

    “Very well, then this will be a six-on-six Pokémon battle that will begin… NOW!”

    Bruno suddenly tossed a Pokémon to the ground, sending out his first Pokémon, Primeape. Gary barely had time to react by sending out his own Pokémon, Exeggcute. Gary had just recently added Exeggcute to his team and had not had time to properly train it, or rather them, yet but the six egg-like heads that formed Exeggcute were part Psychic-type, giving them a type advantage against Bruno’s Fighting Pokémon.

    “Primeape! Use Crosschop!”

    The Pig Monkey Pokémon charged up to Exeggcute with its arms crossed in an X-shape and swung them together, hitting Exeggcute from both sides. The six heads were scattered around by the attack, making it so that Primeape wasn’t sure which one to target with its next attack, giving Exeggcute enough time to attack themselves. Each of the heads pelted Primeape with a barrage of Bullet Seeds, hitting it from every direction. This proved to make the Primeape angrier as it used its Rage attack to increase its attack power with every hit. As soon as it found an opening, Primeape charged one of Exeggcute’s heads and hit it with all of its strength. The other five heads didn’t like to see one of their own get attacked and switched up their attack pattern, blasting waves of Confusion at it instead. The Psychic attacks were Super Effective against Primeape, who was knocked out.

    Bruno recalled Primeape as Exeggcute regrouped and gathered themselves back up together. Bruno sent out his next Pokémon, Hitmonchan. The boxing Pokémon assumed a defensive position as Exeggcute started spitting Bullet Seeds at it. After blocking the seeds with its boxing-glove-like hands, Hitmonchan dashed to the side and came up close to Exeggcute, hitting them with a Fire Punch. Exeggcute retaliated with Confusion but it was not enough to defeat Hitmonchan, who knocked Exeggcute out with another Fire Punch.

    Gary recalled Exeggcute back to their Pokéball and sent out his next Pokémon. Growlithe was another new addition to his team, but he had it for a little longer and was confident in its abilities. The Fire-type puppy Pokémon have a small howl as it Leered at its opponent, causing Hitmonchan to lower its defense slightly as Growlithe ran up to it and bit Hitmonchan in the leg with its Fire Fang move. The attack burned Hitmonchan who knocked Growlithe away with a Close Combat attack. Before Growlithe could pick itself back up, Hitmonchan hit it again with Mach Punch. Growlithe then used Flame Burst, launching a large fireball from its mouth which split apart midair into several streams of fire that struck Hitmonchan and the area directly around it. Hitmonchan used Mach Punch again, quickly striking the Fire-type before it could react and knocked it out. But before Gary could send out his next Pokémon, Hitmonchan collapsed as well due to its burn.

    Gary sent out his Nidorino while Bruno called out a Hitmonlee. The Kicking Pokémon leaped high up into the air as soon as it touched the ground and came falling back down with one of its coiled up legs outstretched to his Nidorino with a High Jump Kick. Nidorino was able to side-jump out of the way just in time, however, causing Hitmonlee to injure itself as it crashed into the ground. Nidorino then rammed into Hitmonlee with a Peck attack, followed up with a Poison Jab. Hitmonlee stood back up with great effort and hit Nidorino with a Double Kick, knocking him onto his side, before using High Jump Kick again and this time hitting Nidorino with enough force to knock him out.

    Gary recalled his Nidorino and sent out his Nidorina, who immediately hit Hitmonlee with a Double Kick of her own and following up the attack with a Poison Sting. Hitmonlee tried to hit Nidorina with a Mega Kick, but missed and opened itself up to another Double Kick, knocking it out.

    Bruno then sent out his fourth Pokémon, Hitmontop, who spun around on the point on top of its head and knocked Nidorina down with a Triple Kick. Unfortunately for Hitmontop, it happened to hit one of her poisonous spikes in the process and was inflicted with Poison. Nidorina got back up again and hit Hitmontop with a simple Scratch attack, which was enough to knock Hitmontop off balance and make it fall down. Nidorina then hit Hitmontop with a Double Kick before it could get back up again and was able to dodge a Close Combat attack from Hitmontop before it jumped back onto its head and started spinning again. Nidorina tried to dodge another Rolling Kick, but was unable to get out of the way and was struck by the attack. Before Hitmontop could follow up with another attack, however, Nidorina was able to hit it with another Double Kick which, when combined with the damage it had already taken and the poison slowly sapping away its health, was enough to knock out Hitmonchan.

    Bruno was down to his last two Pokémon now, while Gary still had three, placing him in the lead for the time being. Bruno sent out his second-to-last Pokémon, Machoke. The Superpower Pokémon stared down at Nidorina while flexing its massive muscles. Its biceps were thicker than Gary’s head.

    “You are doing very well so far.” Bruno said to Gary. “Certainly better than most who try to face me, at any rate. Keep this up and you should be able to defeat me without any problem.”

    “Yeah.” Gary replied. “Like there was ever a problem to begin with.”
    “Machoke! Use Seismic Toss!” Bruno ordered his Pokémon.

    Bruno’s Machoke grabbed Nidorina and lifted her up. Nidorina tried to use Fury Swipes to get Machoke to release its grip but struggling only made it squeeze tighter. Machoke then jumped up into the air and did a backflip before slamming Nidorina into the ground. Nidorina got back on her feet as Machoke landed back on the ground, holding onto its left arm, which had been scratched by one of Nidorina’s spikes. Machoke gave out a howl as its arms suddenly glowed green and he hit Nidorina with a Dual Chop. Nidorina retaliated by jumping at Machoke and using Bite on its leg, holding on with its teeth as she then used Double Kick on the other leg, knocking him down.

    Machoke looked furious as it kicked its right leg out in a Low Sweep attack and knocked Nidorina over. Nidorina then used Toxic Spikes, sending out a spray of poisoned bards around the battlefield. Machoke stood back up again as Nidorina charged towards it for another attack. Just as Nidorina was just about to hit with another Double Kick, Machoke assumed a defensive position and started to glow yellow. After the attack hit, Machoke’s glow disappeared and he hit Nidorina with a powerful Revenge attack. Nidorina tried to get back up after the hit, but it proved too much and she collapsed.

    “Good job, Nidorina.” Gary said as he recalled her back into her Pokéball. It was unusual for him to compliment his Pokémon but she was growing on him and had become one of his favorite members of his team. “Alright, now let’s finish this Wartortle!”

    Gary’s starter Pokémon emerged from its Pokéball ready to battle. Machoke ran up to the Turtle Pokémon, ready to hit him with a Karate Chop but before he could get in range for the attack, Wartortle sent out a Water Pulse which disoriented Machoke and caused him to trip and fall to the ground. Wasting no time, Wartortle sprayed a blast of Water Gun at Machoke, knocking it out.

    Bruno recalled Machoke and sent out his final Pokémon, Machoke’s evolved form, Machamp. The four-armed musclebound gray Pokémon landed straight onto the Toxic Spikes that Nidorina had left behind and became inflicted with their poison. Wartortle then jumped up and used Withdraw to retreat into its shell before it slammed into Machamp’s chest with a Rapid Spin attack. Machamp used a Karate Chop to smash Wartortle into the ground, but it didn’t do very much damage because Wartortle was still inside of his shell.

    Wartortle flipped itself forward and sprayed a Water Gun straight into the ground, sending himself flying upwards and then crashing back down right above Machamp’s head. The attempt at a makeshift attack failed, however, as Machamp easily caught Wartortle with two of its hands. Machamp’s two free hands then lit up green and he hit Wartortle with a Dual Chop before jumping up and using Seismic Toss. Fortunately for Wartortle, he was able to use Protect to avoid taking any damage from the Seismic Toss. Wartortle finally got back out of its shell and stood up, spraying another Water Gun at Machamp. Machamp was ready for the attack, however, and used Revenge, glowing bright yellow as the attack hit and the immediately punching Wartortle with its full strength.

    Wartortle was sent flying towards the nearby cliff face. Wartortle used Withdraw again before he hit the wall and ricochet off of it, straight into Machamp’s head. The Superpower Pokémon was knocked down onto its back by the force of the unexpected blow and fell onto the Toxic Spikes still on the ground. Wartortle took this opportunity to come back out of its shell and blast another Water Pulse at Machamp before following it up with a Tackle, knocking Machamp out.

    “Very good.” Bruno said as he recalled Machamp back into its Pokéball. “You were able to defeat my entire team before you were even left down to your final Pokémon, earning this Valor badge.”

    Bruno held out a shield-like badge colored yellow on one side and orange on the other, handing it to Gary.

    “There is also something else I would like to give you as a reward for your victory.” Bruno continued as Gary took the badge. “Steelix!”

    The ground around them shook violently as a massive metal snake Pokémon burst out from the mountain which Gary realized must have been the metallic thing he had leaned against earlier. Steelix lowed its head above Bruno and dropped what appeared to be a couple rocks into his hand. Bruno then held the gray-colored rocks out to Gary.

    “These are Moon Stones.” He explained as Gary took the rocks from him. “They are formed from a rare mineral with special properties that allow certain Pokémon to evolve such as your Nidorino and Nidorina.”

    “Um, thanks, I guess.” Said Gary, who was not used to being given things and felt there must be some ulterior motive. But Bruno gave no indication of such, so Gary simply turned around and started to walk back to the car.
    * * *​
    Looker’s team had still gotten no closer to finding any new leads on Team Rocket’s actions, so Wes had decided to take a walk around Viridian City to stretch his legs a bit. He was getting bored with waiting around and doing nothing and was considering entering the Pokémon League to alleviate some of that boredom, but figured that the moment he started with that things would start happening with the Team Rocket case and he would be pulled away from it.

    “Maybe next year.” He muttered to himself as he walked by an empty alleyway.

    Or at least the alleyway appeared empty at first. A flash of movement caught Wes’ eye as he went by it that caught his attention. Wes turned around and walked down the alley to see what it was just in time to see something crawl up along the wall and out of sight.

    “Wait a minute, wasn’t that…” Wes trailed off as he noticed light reflecting off of something nearby. He turned to see what it was and recognized it instantly. “Ariados.”

    Wes approached the cluster of webbing latched onto the brick wall and pulled it off. There was a silver envelope inside the web with a golden “J” emblazoned on it.

    “What does she want?” Wes growled as he glared at the envelope before opening it up and reading the letter inside. “Well, this is interesting.”
    * * *​
    “So this is the Gym, right?” Ash asked Misty and Brock as they stood outside the Saffron City Gym.

    “Yes.” Brock answered. “But are you sure we should be here? Carmine said we should wait in the Pokémon Center.”

    “Oh, what’s the worst that could happen?” Ash tried to reassure him.

    Ash rested his hand along the six Pokéballs around his belt. Two of them were empty, as Pika and Volty were resting on his shoulders like usual, while the other four contained the remaining members of his team.

    “Hey, wait a minute.” Ash just realized something was off. “Where’d the Raticate King go?”

    “You already have six Pokémon.” Misty pointed out. “So it would have been sent to your PC automatically.”

    “But I had it when we were still in the sewers.” Ash pointed out.

    “Your Pokédex might not have been able to get a signal down there so it wouldn’t have been able to transport until we got back up to the surface.” Brock said.

    “Oh, yeah. I guess that makes sense.” Ash turned back to the Gym. “Anyway, here we go!”

    The inside of the Saffron Gym was dimly lit by torches set on stone pillars around the sides of the room. Ash could just barely see a chair on the other side of the room with what appeared to be a woman sitting in it.

    “Hello?” He called out. “Are you the Gym Leader?”

    “Something doesn’t feel right about this.” Brock muttered under his breath.

    The woman stood up and started walking slowly towards them. Ash squinted and tried to make out what she looked like but she was still too far away to see clearly in the torchlight.

    “I don’t remember this place being so dark.” Misty commented.

    Pika and Volty fidgeted slightly as the woman continued walking slowly. Ash decided to walk up to try and get a better look, but his legs wouldn’t cooperate.

    “Guys,” He said. “I can’t move.”

    “Neither can I.” Brock realized.

    “What’s going on here?” Misty screamed, which was the last sound any of them made before Sabrina came into view and they blacked out.
    Carmine ran out of the Pokémon Center, his dark red hair still dripping yet. He looked around and saw no indication of where Ash and his friends had gone, so he ran off in a random direction, prepared to search the whole city if he had to.

    “If Delia finds out about this, she’d kill me.” Carmine said to himself as he checked street after street. “And I wouldn’t be able to blame her.”

    As he ran by the entrance to the Gym, he remembered what the Pokémon Center nurse had told him about Sabrina having apparently joined Team Rocket. And if the rumors he had heard about her psychic abilities were true then that Gym was probably one of the most dangerous places anyone could possibly be right now.

    “So naturally that’s probably were they went.” Carmine sighed.

    Carmine looked around. Going in there without a plan would be suicidal, so he needed to think of something quick. His attention was quickly drawn to the building next-door to the Gym. It looked like some sort of old, run-down dojo but that wasn’t what caught his attention. Situated just above the entranceway to it there was a faded old sign to a Pokémon Gym.

    “What’s that about?” Carmine wondered to himself. “I suppose I might as well check it out since I don’t have any other options at the moment.”

    He walked up to the dojo and opened the sliding door leading inside. To his surprise the place was actually quite lively. Martial artists and Fighting-type Pokémon filled the main hallway training themselves to the absolute limit of what they could do. Carmine’s jaw dropped as he saw the various feats being performed in just the first few seconds after he got there. One man broke through a pile of wooden boards with a single chop while a girl near him was going pushups with another man on her back and a Machamp over in the corner was practicing using Fire Punch, Ice Punch and Thunder Punch all at the same time.

    “Greetings, brother.” A man in a white gi said to Carmine, startling the veteran trainer. “Can we help you with anything?”

    “What is this place?” Carmine asked in awe.

    “This is the Fighting Dojo.” The man explained. “It is a place where people and Pokémon come from all over to test and train themselves beyond their physical limits.”

    “But the sign outside said this was a Gym.” Carmine pointed out.

    “Yes. We got that old sign years ago after the master of this dojo beat Bruno in a fight and took the sign off his Gym barehanded. Oh, that was a sight to behold.”

    “But aren’t you worried about drawing the attention of Team Rocket?” Carmine asked.

    “Oh, no. We don’t have to worry about them. So long as we don’t go outside they don’t seem to care. Besides, the only one we really need to worry about is Sabrina, because her psychic powers and Pokémon have the advantage over us, but even then we have ol’ Joe over there to help with that.”

    The man pointed off to the side of the dojo, where an angry looking man in a battered old sea captain’s uniform was sitting back-to-back with a foreign Pokémon that Carmine recognized as the Fighting and Dark-type Pangoro.

    “Speaking of which,” the man continued, “how did you get here, anyway?”

    “Never mind.” Carmine answered as he turned around to leave.

    Carmine was mentally kicking himself as he left the dojo. How could he have forgotten such a basic part of type match-ups? Dark-types were immune to Psychic, which meant all he had to do was send Sneasel into the Gym to scout out the building. It just seems so simple now.
    * * *​
    “Wake up, Mr. Sleepyhead.” The voice of a young girl roused Ash from his sleep. He opened his eyes to see the source of said voice standing in front of him.

    “Who, who are you?” He asked hesitantly.

    “My name is Sabrina.” She said happily. “Who are you?”

    “I’m… I’m Ash.” Ash tried to stand up but found that his arms and legs were tied to the chair he was sitting in. He looked around and found that Misty and Brock were tied to chair behind him as well, still unconscious. There were no signs of Pika or Volty. “What’s going on?”

    “You were caught snooping around the Gym, so she knocked you out and had the bad men take you away to here.”

    Ash tried to wrap his mind around what the girl was saying. “Who’s she?”

    “Sabrina, of course. Silly boy.” The girl giggled.

    “I thought you said you were Sabrina.”

    The girl smiled. “Would you like to play with me?”

    Ash stared at the girl in confusion. “No, I want to get my friends and get out of here.”

    “To bad.” The girl said as she shrugged and turned around. “I would have let you go if you had said yes.”

    “Wait!” Ash called out to the girl as she walked away. “I’ll play, I’ll play!”

    The girl turned back to him. “Too late.” Then suddenly she disappeared into nothingness.

    “What?” Ash stared at the space where the girl had just been in confusion. “Wait, was she another ghost? Wait a minute… Hanami!”

    “Oh, so you finally remembered me, did you?” The ghostly maiden materialized in front of him.

    “Uh…”

    “Oh, I’m just messing with you.” Hanami laughed. “No, that girl wasn’t a ghost. I’m not sure what she was, but she definitely wasn’t a ghost. And before you ask, no, I can’t help get free. I can’t interact directly with the material world.”

    “I guess I’ll just have to think of something else then.” Ash muttered as he tried he get loose of his bonds.

    Unfortunately for Ash, the ropes tying him down proved too thick to break free from.

    “Sacred Fire.” Ash muttered.

    “You should watch your language, young man.” Hanami said in a mock scolding tone.

    “I guess I’ve been hanging out with Carmine too much.” Ash joked. “Wait a minute, Carmine!” He’ll come get us, right?”

    “Assuming he can even find you.” Hanami said. “You’re not in the Gym anymore. The men in black that tied you up dragged you away and brought you here. We’re in the basement of the tallest building in the city.”

    “Hm…” Ash tried to think of another plan. “What about Ghastly?”

    “They took away all of your… what do you call them… Pokéballs? Yes, Pokéballs! They took all of your Pokéballs away and I don’t know where they put them, so you won’t be able to rely on your Pokémon for help.”

    Ash sighed and tried to see if he could knock his chair over, but it was tied to Brock and Misty’s chairs in a way that made that impossible.

    “You know, back in my day we used acorns to catch Pokémon.” Hanami mused.

    Ash tried to ignore the absurdity of that statement as he worked out a way to get free. He closed his eyes and took a deep breath, concentrating on trying to think of another way out. After a moment he opened them back up again.

    “What?”

    “Did you see that?” Ash asked Hanami.

    “See what?”

    “Everything just went all bright and colorful.” Ash explained.

    “I don’t know what you’re talking about. Everything seemed normal to me. Or at least as normal as it can get when you’re a centuries-old ghost, anyway.”

    “Hold on.” Ash said as he closed his eyes again. “They’re not lights, they’re… people? I see people.”

    “There’s no one else here.” Hanami pointed out, starting to get worried.

    “No, not here.” Ash tried his best to explain. “Up there. It’s like I can see everyone in the building above us.”

    Hanami looked at Ash in bewilderment.

    “But they’re not just people.” Ash continued. “They’re all lit up in different colors. Its’ like, it’s like I’m seeing their souls or something.”

    “I have no idea what you’re talking about.” Hanami said.

    “No offence, but you don’t really seem to know much for an ancient ghost.”

    “Well what do you expect?” Hanami asked defensively. “I’m not some wise scholar or anything. I’m just a poor village girl who’s spent her entire afterlife up until point waiting around in a statue.”

    “Sorry.” Ash apologized.

    “No, its fine.”

    “I’m still no closer to finding a way out of here though.” Ash sighed and closed his eyes again, looking down at his hands. They were yellow, he noticed, and it seemed almost as if he were made from electricity. “This is really weird.”
    Mallory sighed and put the phone she was just talking into back onto the receiver. Giovanni wasn’t going to like the information she had just been told, but she had no choice but to tell him. She sighed and walked over to the entrance to Giovanni’s office, knocking on the door. When there was no response, she opened the door and found that the office was empty.

    “Even worse.” She thought to herself.

    Taking a deep breath, she walked across the empty office to a door on the far end. She opened that door and stepped into Giovanni’s private training room, where she found him sparing with his Hitmonlee. What had once been nothing more than his daily morning exercise routine had been steadily been taking up more and more of the man’s free time. He may not show it to the rest of the world, but Mallory knew him well enough that this was a sign he was worried. Current events were not going as expected and as much as he tried to hide it, Giovanni was slowly losing control. And he was a man who needed to be in control.

    Giovanni did not notice Mallory enter as first. It was only when his Persian, who had been laying down lazily near the doorway noticed her and gave a loud meow to announce her presence that Giovanni glanced over in Mallory’s direction. He deflected one last blow from his Hitmonlee before bowing to his sparring partner, who returned the bow and walked away to get a towel for him. Giovanni turned to Mallory and started unraveled his hand wraps as he walked over to her.

    “What is it?” He asked angrily.

    “Sir!” Mallory stood at attention. “We have a report that several individuals have somehow made it past our defenses and infiltrated Saffron City.”

    “How?” Giovanni asked as his Hitmonlee returned with a small white towel, which Giovanni took from it and started to wipe off his sweat with.

    “We don’t know for sure yet.” Mallory answered him. “But reports say that there were four people who made it in, three of whom have already been captured and are being held in the lowest basement level of the Silph Corporation building. These three individuals have been identified as the Gym Leaders Brock Takeshi of Pewter City and Misty Sensational of Cerulean City, as well as a young trainer whose identification lists as Ash Ketchum from Pallet Town.”

    “Ketchum.” Giovanni repeated to himself as he handed the sweaty towel back to Hitmonlee and went to put his shirt back on. “Why does that name sound familiar?”

    “I cannot say, sir.”

    “And what of the fourth?”

    “We have not been able to confirm his identity, but early reports suggest that he’s… well…” Mallory trailed off, not sure how to break the news to him.

    “Well, who is it?” Giovanni asked, already suspecting what her answer would be.

    “It’s… Carmine Noir, sir. The fourth intruder is suspected of being Carmine.”

    Giovanni glared at Mallory as he finished buttoning his shirt. “And how, may I ask, was he able of getting here without our knowledge?”

    “We don’t know, sir. Our last report of his whereabouts showed him entering the Pokémon Tower in Lavender Town.”

    “Hm…” Giovanni thought for a moment. “Didn’t Silph Corp. recently install a teleport pad there? Is it possible that they were somehow able to hack into it and redirect it to send them here?”

    “That is a possibility, sir, though unlikely.”

    “It doesn’t matter anyway. What’s important is that he’s here and he’s a serious threat to our plans. Alert all higher ranking members of the situation. I’m authorizing a city-wide manhunt on Carmine Noir.” Giovanni put on his jacket and walked back out to his office, Mallory and Persian both following him out. “Is Elite Squadron still here?”

    “Yes.” Mallory answered. “They are waiting for a lead on where to start looking for the one who destroyed the S.S. Anne.”

    “What about our executive members?”

    “Archer, Ariana, Proton and Petrol are all away on various other assignments.”

    “That is unfortunate timing, but with any luck, we shouldn’t need them.”

    “He is only one man.” Mallory pointed out. “How much of a threat can he really be?”

    “Carmine is one of the strongest and most resourceful trainers I have ever known. But, truth be told, he’s not the one I’m worried about.”

    “What do you mean?” Mallory asked.

    Giovanni looked Mallory dead in the eyes. “If I’m right, then you’ll be finding out very soon.”
    * * *​
    “Okay, Sneasel, I just need you to go in there and find the others. It should be a piece of cake.” Carmine told his Sneasel as he stood underneath an open window behind the Saffron Gym. “Come back here as soon as you find anything.”

    The Sharp Claw Pokémon nodded in confirmation and climbed up the side of the building, sliding through the window with ease. The inside of the Gym was dark, but that was no problem for Sneasel, whose eyesight was naturally adapted for low-light environments. He looked around the deserted Gym but wasn’t able to find anything. He was just about to head back to his owner when the front door opened and Sneasel quickly ducked behind one of the support pillars lining the room and climbed up to the ceiling.

    Sneasel watched as Sabrina walked slowly across the Gym. When she had made her way halfway across to her chair her Pokégear rang and she stopped to answer it. She didn’t say anything at first, instead listening to whoever was on the other end of the call.

    “Understood.” She said, at last, turning in the direction where Carmine was waiting for Sneasel to return. “I know exactly where he is.”

    Realizing what was going on, Sneasel suddenly jumped over to the window, using Double Team to create several false duplicates of itself to act as distractions, buying enough time for him to get back outside.

    “So, what did you find?” Carmine asked the frantic Sneasel.

    Sneasel waved its arms around, wishing he had a way to directly communicate to his trainer. Fortunately, Carmine was able to understand the gist of what he meant and recalled Sneasel back into its Pokéball before running away.

    “Now what?” He asked himself. “This bad situation just keeps getting worse.”

    He ran several blocks before turning back to see if he was being followed. No one was there so he sighed and turned back around.

    “Hello!” And suddenly he felt like he was about to have a heart attack due to the sudden appearance of a young girl. “Would you like to play with me?”
    * * *​
    “It’s starting to get dark.” Daisy noticed as she and Giselle were walking through the streets of Celadon City.

    “Yeah, I suppose it is.” Giselle put her hands behind her head as she looked up at the sky.

    “Should we stop somewhere for the night?”

    “We could, but I’m sure someone like you will probably be staying at the Pokémon Center, right? No way I’m lowering myself to that.”

    “Actually, I was thinking about the Pallet House.” Daisy reached into her bag to pull something out.

    Giselle looked at Daisy in surprise. “That’s definitely a bit richer taste than I was expecting from you. Sure you can afford that?”

    “Yeah, the Pallet Houses in larger cities like this are definitely a lot larger and more expensive than the one back home, but at least I can still use this thing at them.” Daisy pulled out her VIP card.

    “What, what?” Giselle stared wide-eyed at the card. “I thought you were poor!”

    “No.” Daisy looked at Giselle in confusion. “What made you think that?”

    “It’s just… everything! Everything about you just screams ‘I don’t have money’.”

    “My family’s pretty well off, actually. Although this was actually a gift from my neighbor, Mrs. Ketchum, who owns the entire chain.”

    “I must admit,” Giselle said. “I had you all wrong. I think we may be more alike than I thought, which makes you all the better as my rival.”

    “Thanks, I guess.” Daisy wasn’t sure of that supposed to be a compliment or not. “Although I’d say you’re more like my brother than me.”

    “Really?” Giselle sounded surprised. “I guess I’ll need to meet him so I can make him my rival as well.”

    “I’m not sure if I want to see that meeting.” Daisy shuddered. “Either you’d really get along or it would be a horrible clash of egos.”

    “What was that?” Giselle asked almost threateningly.

    “Nothing, let’s just get going.”
     
    #7 Nov 10, 2017
    Last edited: Dec 11, 2017
  8. Hopper

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  9. BZRich64

    BZRich64 The Mustachioed Machamp

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    Ash resumed trying to break free of his restraints, this time watching the yellow energy that seemed to flow through his body as he did so. He still had no idea what it was or how it worked, but he noticed that it seemed to flow into his hands as he tried to break out of the ropes.

    “I think I have an idea.” He said.

    “What?” Hanami asked him.

    Ash concentrated on the yellow energy. It was apparently a part of him, or so he assumed, so he guessed that if he focused hard enough he should be able to control it to some extent. Sure enough, after some effort, he could feel it flow into his arms. It felt almost as if his strength was leaving the rest of his body altogether and reside solely in his arms. He tried lifting his arms up to break through the robes and was able to put so much force into it that the ropes practically disintegrated as they burst apart.

    “How did you do that?” Hanami asked in awe.

    “I’m not sure, but, uh… I can’t seem to move now.” Ash held his arms straight up as he waited for the energy to flow back down and spread throughout his body again. “I can’t say that I ever want to experience this feeling again.”

    Ash slowly stood up. It felt like his legs were asleep as he tried to take a step forward and immediately fell down.

    “Oh, right.” He muttered as he picked himself back up. “My legs are still tied.”

    Ash sat back down and bent over to untie his legs from the chair. Once he managed to get that done, he stood up again and took a step forward and away from the chair. He turned around and scanned the room, not surprised to learn that whoever had captured them hadn’t left their stuff inside the same room as them.

    “Let’s see…” Ash said as he reached around to check what all they had taken from him. In addition to his Pokéballs and backpack, it appeared that his captors had also felt the need to deprive him of his jacket, gloves and hat. He then looked over at Misty and Brock. “Should I wake them up and then untie them, or untie them and then try to wake them up?”

    “I’d suggest untying them first.” Hanami suggested.

    “Yeah, that makes more sense.”

    Ash knelt down in front of Misty and started untying her first, before moving on to Brock. Just as he finished with the last knot, the two started to wake up. Hanami faded away again before they fully regained consciousness, not ready to reveal herself to anyone else yet.

    “Wha…what’s going on?” Misty asked weakly as her eyes fluttered open.

    “I’m not entirely sure.” Ash answered. “We got captured somehow and we’re being held inside of a basement somewhere.”

    “Captured by who?” Brock asked as he stood up.

    “I don’t know for sure, but if I had to make a guess I’d say Team Rocket.” Ash answered.

    “What?” Misty practically screamed.

    “Keep your voice down.” Ash told her. “Someone could hear you. Now come on, we need to find our stuff and get out of here.”

    “It looks like there’s a way up over there.” Brock pointed to a small staircase in the corner of the room that led up to a door and started walking towards it.

    “Hold on.” Ash held out his hand for Brock to stop then closed his eyes and looked up at the door to see if there was anyone on the other side. All he could see was the rocky brown of Brock standing at the base of the stairs. “Okay, it’s clear. Let’s go.”

    “What are you talking about?” Misty asked, puzzled by his behavior.

    “I’m not sure.” Ash said. “It’s like when I close my eyes I can see… people. I think it’s their life energy or something. I’m not sure how to explain it.”

    “Since when can you do that?”

    “It just started a few minutes ago. Now come on, we need to get out of here.”
    * * *
    “Who are you?” Carmine asked the young girl that stood before him. The girl’s long dark hair that covered her eyes contrasted greatly with her pale skin and faint pink dress, giving a creepy and almost ethereal vibe to her. There was also something familiar about her, as if he had met her somewhere before.

    “My name is Sabrina.” She answered him. “Would you like to play with me?”

    Carmine face turned to an expression of horror then to confusion as he turned around. Sabrina was the corrupt Gym Leader he was running from, wasn’t she? Did this girl just have the same name as her or… “No.” He thought to himself. It had to be a coincidence. Carmine turned back to the girl and looked at her more closely. It was then that he realized that the girl’s hair wasn’t covering her eyes. Her eyes were cloaked in shadow.

    “What are you?” Carmine wondered aloud with thinking.

    The girl smiled and tilted her head to the side. “Now that’s a smart question.” She said in a teasing manner. “Play with me and I might just tell you.”

    Carmine checked behind himself again, took a deep breath and turned back to the girl. “Fine. I’ll play.”

    Sabrina opened her mouth in a big smile. “Yay!”

    There was a bright flash and suddenly Carmine found himself in the city of town, but something seemed… off. Not only did Saffron seem as empty as it had before, but there was something different about the town itself. Some of the buildings were different, some weren’t there at all and everything seemed slightly larger than it should be. It felt almost as if he had just stepped back in time. In fact, now that he thought about it the city looked almost exactly like it had when he had first visited the city over a decade ago during his first visit to the Kanto region.

    “What’s going on?” He wondered aloud.

    “You sure ask a lot of questions, Carmine.” He heard Sabrina’s voice as if it here reverberating through the city itself.

    “How do you know my name?” Carmine asked her accusatorily.

    “You told it to me.”

    “What?” Carmine was more confused than ever. “When did I tell you that?”

    “You don’t remember me, do you?” Clouds suddenly formed overhead and rain began pouring down over the city. “Oh, I know! Why don’t we act out when we first met? It all happened 15 years ago.”

    Carmine had no idea what she was talking about. He couldn’t remember having ever met her before and there was no way she was old enough to have been around 15 years ago. But that would have been around the time he had first passed through Saffron City and now that he thought about it, something had happened when he was there. But what was it? He couldn’t remember.

    Not wanting to get any wetter than he had to, Carmine ran over to store that had a canopy above its window so that he could get out of the rain for a moment. He happened to glance at his reflection in the window and was shocked by what he saw. It was certainly his face looking back at him, but it was not a face he had seen in a long time. Carmine was staring at a reflection of his teenage self and quickly realized that it wasn’t just his reflection. Carmine had somehow been physically regressed back to his early teens.

    “15 years ago.” Carmine muttered to himself. “I would have been 14 when I first got here. This is what I looked like back then, isn’t it? What the Aeroblast is going on here?”

    He backed away from the window and back into the rain. He wasn’t going to be getting any answered just standing around here, so he decided to start searching around. He turned a corner onto a side street and started walking down it. As he went by an alleyway he happened to turn and look down it. He saw Sabrina run by on the opposite side and he was suddenly pushed back by a strong blast of air that flipped him over in midair before he landed on his face.

    “Ow.” Carmine said as he pulled himself back up. “What was that?”
    Ash led Misty and Brock through the building they were trapped in using his newfound abilities to make sure that they didn’t run into any members of Team Rocket and get captured again. The building’s layout was simple enough on its own but having to avoid the various guards turned it into a maze.

    They made their way along an empty hallway when suddenly Ash stopped right before walking in front of an open doorway. He held his hand up to signal that the others should stop as well, almost hitting Misty in the face in the process. Ash gazed through the wall at the cloudy lavender aura of a Team Rocket Grunt who standing alone in the otherwise empty room as he waited for the man to turn around so that they could get by. After a moment that felt much longer than it actually was, the man walked over to a chair facing away from the door and sat down. Ash put his hand down and the trio hurried past the doorway. They made their way further down the hallway when Ash saw an icy-blue aura coming around a corner up ahead and they had to duck into a custodial closet.

    “This is starting to get frustrating.” Misty whispered just audibly enough for Ash and Brock to hear her.

    “I know, but’s all we can do right now.” Ash responded to her in a similarly quite fashion, still watching as the person walking down the hallway got closer to where they were hiding.

    “Do we have any plan about how we're going to find our Pokémon and our stuff?” Brock asked.

    “Not yet.” Ash admitted. “Hopefully we’ll be able to find them as we make our way out of h-” Ash suddenly stopped talking as the door to the closet creaked open and Ash, Misty and Brock found themselves face-to-face with a member of Team Rocket.

    After several painstaking seconds of utter silence, the Team Rocket grunt sighed, rolled his eyes and grabbed a broom that was hanging from a hook on the wall. “They don’t pay me enough for this.” He muttered as he closed the door again.

    “What just happened?” Misty asked in shock.

    “I don’t know but I guess we should consider ourselves lucky.” Brock answered.

    “If we were lucky, then we wouldn’t be in this situation to begin with.”
    * * *​
    Rain continued to pour down as Carmine ran down the alleyway he had just been knocked out of. He was starting to remember now. Fifteen years ago he had visited Saffron and gotten lost in the large unfamiliar city, wandering around aimlessly when he had seen a young girl run by and was shoved back by some unseen force like he had been just a moment ago. He remembered chasing after the girl, but that was as far as his memory would take him. What had happened after that? He needed to know and finding out was likely the only way he would be able to get out of wherever he was trapped right now.

    Carmine turned the corner onto a larger road just in time to see the girl run out into another alley. He ran through the steadily increasing rain as he chased after her. When he reached the alley and turned into it he found a dead end, with the girl sitting curled-up against a wall at the end of it, crying.

    “What’s wrong?” He called out to the girl as he approached her.

    “Go away!” The girl screamed. A massive shockwave blasted out of her and sent Carmine flying back several yards.

    Carmine pulled himself back up to his feet and approached the girl again. “And leave a girl to cry alone? Never.” Carmine had forgotten how noble he had been in his youth. Or stupid, he wasn’t sure which this was right now. Either way, he found himself filled with more determination than he had felt in a very long time.

    “Leave me alone!” The girl screamed.

    “Not until you tell me what’s wrong!” Carmine was able to brace himself for another shockwave, only being sent back a few feet this time and he was able to stay on his feet before running up closer to her.

    “Don’t come near me!” The girl started crying even harder now. “You’ll get hurt! Everyone gets hurt.”

    “Don’t worry about me.” Carmine said with a smile. He had managed to catch up to the girl now and knelt down in front of her. “I can take anything you can throw at me.”

    The girl looked up at him with bloodshot eyes. “You aren’t afraid of me?” She asked.

    “Of course not.” Carmine laughed. Something he would never do in the present. “Why would I be?”

    “Because…” The girl stared at her knees. “My powers hurt people. Even the other psychics are afraid of me. Even my parents…” The girl’s words became unintelligible through her massive sobs.

    “It’s okay.” Carmine tried to comfort her. “I know what it’s to hurt people, too. It’s pleasant, but running away will only make things worse. You need to face your fears and take control of yourself.”

    The girls looked up at Carmine again, stood up and suddenly hugged him tightly. Carmine returned the hug and picked the girl up, holding her in a warm embrace.

    “Now come on, let’s get you out of this rain. I’m sure someone is worried sick about where you are right now. My name’s Carmine by the way, what’s yours?”

    “S-Sabrina.”

    Carmine could remember everything about that night now. He had taken Sabrina to a nearby Pokémon Center after that before getting her to tell him where she lived so that he could bring her back home. As Carmine had suspected, her parents were terrified by her running away and were relieved to see her home safe and sound. Now that he thought about it, he wasn’t sure how he had even managed to forget that night.

    Carmine now found himself standing in a white void with the young Sabrina standing before him.

    “The night we met you helped me more than you could ever know.” Sabrina said. “But I’m afraid I have to ask you for your help again.”

    “Sure.” Carmine said. “Anything you need.”

    “When Team Rocket attacked the city I was defeated and knocked out.” Sabrina explained. “When I had awoken they had done something to me. They somehow locked my heart away so that I couldn’t feel anything. I’ve become little more than an emotionless slave to their evil ways. But my powers have been able to protect me somewhat, projecting that part of me that had been locked away as this vision of my younger self that you see before you now.”

    Carmine stared at Sabrina in stunned silence, unsure of what to say to that.

    “I need you to rescue me, Carmine.” She continued. “I don’t know how, but I know you’ll be able to find a way to undo whatever it is that they’ve done to me. Please, Carmine.”

    “How could I possibly say no to that?” Carmine said at last. “Of course I’ll try.”
    * * *​
    “Outside the northern entrance to Diglett’s Cave.” Wes said to himself as he looked around. “This is the place she said she wanted to meet and yet she’s nowhere to be seen. Typical.”

    Wes crumpled up the letter he was holding and shoved it in his pocket. His mother had gone through all the trouble having her Ariados send him a letter asking to meet him and when he went against his better judgment and actually went there, she wasn’t there. In many ways, Wes felt that this situation served as a parallel to his relationship with his mother as a whole. He began walking away but quickly had to jump back to dodge a sudden stream of flame that erupted in front of him.

    “What was that?” He looked up at where the fire had come from to see an Entei standing on top of Diglett’s Cave, staring down menacingly at him. This Entei was different than the one he himself had, however. Its fur was a different shade of brown and the red sections of its face-plate were gray rather than the normal red. Not that anything was ever truly normal about legendary Pokémon.

    Wes felt his hair start to rise as a bolt of electricity flew by him and struck the cave. He turned around to see a Raikou walking out of the forest. Its fur was more of an orange color than the yellow that his Raikou had and the cloud on its back was yellow rather than purple.

    Wes knew that if an Entei and a Raikou were here, then that would mean that a Suicune was as well, and sure enough, he saw one walk up to him as well so that the three legendary beasts had him surrounded. Like the others, this Suicune was different than his, being a lighter shade of blue and the cape-like mane that flowed from behind its head was dark blue rather than purple.

    “Do you like my beasts?” Hunter J stepped out from behind a tree next to Suicune. “I caught them in Crown City, in the Sinnoh region. Although from what I understand, you have a set of your own, don’t you? You are my son, after all. Collecting rarities like these are in your blood. Although I must say, these beauties are probably a bit more ‘special’ than the ones you have.”

    “What do you want, Mother?”
    “Now, now. Is that any way to treat your dear old mother?” Hunter J asked Wes in a mocking tone.

    “What do you want?” Wes repeated himself.

    “Fine, if you want to be like that.” Hunter J sighed. “I’m working on building up a new Cipher and I was hoping that you’d join me in it. With your skills as a trainer and as a ‘collector’ you could easily serve as my second-in-command. It would also allow us to finally be able to bond as mother and child.”

    “Yeah, that ship sailed a long time ago.” Wes glanced around at the Legendary Beasts surrounding him. “Though it doesn’t look like you’re giving me much of a choice on the matter.”

    “Oh, the choice is yours to make.” Hunter J reassured him. “Thes boys are just here to make sure that you don’t try anything… reckless. Though before you say no, there is something you should take into account.”

    Hunter J turned to Suicune and reached for something on its back, hidden under the Aurora Pokémon’s mane. Wes’ eyes widen as she pulled Rui off of the Pokémon, with her wrists bound together and a gag around her mouth.

    “I found this one following you here.” She said. “You really should keep better track of your friends, Weston, or they could get hurt.”

    “Let her go.” Wes ordered Hunter J.

    “Oh, I will. Just as long as you agree to join me, that is.”

    The muscles in Wes’ arms tightened as he clenched his fists. “Fine.”

    Hunter J released her grip on Rui and shoved the girl forward. Rui stumbled up to Wes, who caught her and helped her stand up straight.

    “Or at least that’s what I would say she was really here.”

    Wes suddenly punched Rui in the gut, breaking the Illusion as the Rui suddenly vanished and was replaced with a startled Zorua. The Tricky Fox Pokémon ran off back to Hunter J and jumped up into her arms.

    “Very good.” Hunter J said, bemused. “What gave it away?”

    “That Pokémon of yours needs to work on its disguises.” Wes answered. “It may have been able to look like her, but it wasn’t able to match her more subtle movements. Body language is important.”

    “Hm. Yes, I suppose I should work on training him on that sort of thing a bit better. Though I suppose I must have underestimated your bond with that girl if you were able to notice it so easily.”

    “Also,” Wes added, “you forgot to take that Sooth Bell off from around its neck. I could hear it clinging around as it moved.”

    Hunter J looked down at the Pokémon she was holding in her arms. “Oh, yes. That’s what I get for coming up with that idea at the last moment, I suppose. I’m trying to work up my relationship with him. He’s almost like the son I was never able to have.” She glared at Wes.

    “I don’t believe that for a moment.” Wes retorted. “Or else your memory’s fading, because you were the one who abandoned me to be raised by a bunch of common criminals while you went off to join your precious Cipher. And then you abandoned them while I took down the entire organization.”

    “I was moving up in the world and Cipher was just my ticket up to bigger and better things.” Hunter J said defensively. “For both of us. I would have come back for you if you had just been a little more patient.”

    “And yet somehow I don’t believe that, either.” Wes shrugged.

    “Fine, then be that way.” Hunter J said mournfully as she grabbed a Luxury Ball from her belt and recalled Zorua. “But just know that I really didn’t intend for it to be like this.”

    Hunter J snapped her fingers and the three Legendary Beasts all attacked Wes at once, Entei with a Flamethrower, Raikou with a Thunderbolt and Suicune with an Aurora Beam. He had been prepared for this, however, and was able to react quickly. All three attacks exploded around him, creating a thick blanket of smoke and steam around the area. After a moment the air cleared to reveal Wes standing, unharmed, between his own set of Legendary Beasts.

    “Well,” Hunter J muttered to herself, “I can’t say that this is a surprise. Still, it should be interesting.”
    * * *​
    Carmine found himself back in Saffron City, sitting on the dry grass where he had been just before he left. Although, he thought to himself, he probably never left that spot. The events that had just occurred probably happened within his mind.

    He pulled himself back up to his feet and wiped the grass off of his pants. He needed to come up with a plan and fast. He didn’t have any time to spare. But he was already too late, as Sabrina walked up to him from around a corner.

    “There you are.” She said in a dead monotone.

    Sabrina raised her right hand up towards Carmine, apparently about to blast him with a psychic attack. Carmine wasn’t sure if she actually needed to raise her arm for that, but he thought that maybe it was her younger self altering her actions just enough to buy him a split second to react. And react he did, in the only way he could think of. He hugged her.

    “What are you doing?” Sabrina asked as Carmine held onto her in a tight embrace.

    “It’s all right.” Carmine said quietly. He wasn’t sure if this was really going to do anything, but it was the only thing he could do right now. “You’re safe now. Just relax and try to fight it. Fight the control they have over you.” Carmine couldn’t help but mentally groan at how sappy he sounded.

    “Let go of me.” Sabrina said, though she made no effort to escape from Carmine’s grip.

    “No. I’m not letting go while you still need my help.” Carmine felt Sabrina’s weight shift as her knees gave out and he could hear her faint crying as he knelt down on the ground. He rested his chin against the teenaged psychic’s forehead as continued trying to comfort her. “That’s it. I know you can break out of this.”

    After a moment, Sabrina spoke again. Her voice now sounded more normal than before. “Thank you. You’ve saved me again.”

    “Don’t mention it.” Carmine said jokingly. “It was nothing.”

    “No, it wasn’t. Also, you can stop hugging me now.”

    “Right.” Carmine let go and leaned back away from her, slightly embarrassed.

    “Why do you keep saving me?” Sabrina asked. “You don’t even really know me.”

    “I don’t know.” Carmine shrugged. “I guess you kind of remind me of my sister or something. As her older brother, it was my duty to protect her, but I failed. I guess I just don’t want to fail anyone like that again. Or maybe I just don’t like seeing others in trouble so I help them out of the kindness of my heart. Could be either, or neither, I don’t know.”

    Just then, several members of Team Rocket arrived, no doubt drawn in by the commotion.

    “I’ll handle them.” Sabrina said as she stood up to face Team Rocket. “You need to rescue your friends.”

    “How did you-”

    “Psychic.” Sabrina pointed out. “Also, I’m the one who captured them. They should be held in the basement of the Silph Building, although…” She paused. “It looks like they’ve escaped and are trying to find their way out.”

    “Right.” Carmine said. “Be safe, and if you need any help, I’m pretty sure the guys over in the dojo next to your Gym should be willing to lend a hand. Just watch out for the Pangoro.”

    “What was last part?”

    “Bye!” Carmine ran off without answering her question.
    * * *​
    “I feel like we’re going in circles.” Misty said. “Are you sure you know where you’re going?”

    “Not really.” Ash replied. “But we’re bound to find our stuff eventually. Hold on.” Ash raised his hand again for the others to stop as he looked up.

    “What is it?”

    “I’m not sure. There’s something in the room right above us. Like some kind of large rock or something.”

    “I thought you could only see people and Pokémon with your… whatever’s going on with you right now.” Brock asked.

    “I know, that’s what’s odd about it. It doesn’t look like any kind of Pokémon, but its glowing bright orange. There’s also some kind of darkness coming from it that seems familiar somehow. I think we need to check it out.”

    “That doesn’t sound like a good idea.” Misty said. “We need to be working on finding our Pokémon and then the way out of here.”

    “But what if our Pokémon are up there with it?” Ash pointed out. “It doesn’t look like I can see Pokémon if they’re in their Pokéballs, which means they could be just about anywhere.”

    “Fine.”
    “What’s going on?” James asked groggily as he was forced out of bed by the other members of the Elite Squadron.

    “Intruders have infiltrated the city.” Attila said angrily. “Get your uniform on, we’ve got to catch them. What were you doing in bed already, anyway?”

    “Nothing was going on, so I thought I’d go to bed early.” James wasn’t sure why he needed to explain this. “Now would you all get out of here so that I can get dressed.”

    After the others filtered out of James’ room he went over to his closet and pulled out one of his new uniforms. While the lower ranking members of Team Rocket all shared the same basic uniform with a black shirt with a red “R” emblem over the chest, a pair of black pants or a black skirt, white boots and gloves and a black hat. Higher ranking agents, however, had custom uniforms that varied in design depending on what squad they were assigned to. When James had been a part of J Squad, his uniform consisted of a white pair of pants and a white jacket with the R symbol on it over a black shirt, with black gloves and boots. James had grown fond of that uniform which made adjusting to his new one even harder.

    The uniforms that all members of the Elite Squadron wore were similar in design to the basic Team Rocket uniforms, but with a black jacket over a white shirt. Instead of having a large red R emblem on the front, the jacket had a smaller one on the left side of the chest with a larger one on the back. Thin red stripes ran up the sides of the sleeves and pant legs, going up to the elbows and knees, respectively.

    When he finished getting dressed, James sighed and opened the door to join the others. To his surprise, only Jessie and Meowth were waiting for him there.

    “Where are the others?” He asked as the trio started walking down the hallway.

    “Dat Masque lady left wit’ Butch an’ Cassidy without sayin’ where’s they was goin’.” Meowth started to explain.

    “And then Attila lost his patience, so he and Hun went off ahead.” Jessie finished. “We should probably go catch up to them now.”

    The trio stopped just outside of an elevator and Jessie pressed the button to go down. They waited for a moment for the elevator doors to open then got in.

    “How many intruders are there?” James asked.

    “It sounds like dere should be’s four of dem.” Meowth answered. “But apparently threes of dem have already been caught.”

    “But that means there’s only one left.” James pointed out. “Why would they need all of us to catch one person?”

    “We don’t know.” Said Jessie. “But he’s supposed to be that guy that beat us back in Viridian.”

    James shuddered, remembering how Carmine had defeated him easily with just his Sneasel. “But we’re a lot stronger than we were back then. He couldn’t be that powerful, could he?”

    Jessie shrugged. “I don’t know, but we have orders to capture him, so that’s what we’re going to do.”

    After a moment, they finally reached the first floor and the doors slid open again. Carmine was standing there and quickly stepped inside. “Going up?” He asked as he pressed the door close button. Jessie, James and Meowth stood there in stunned silence, unsure of how to react.
    * * *​
    Ash stood just outside the closed door that led into the room containing that the strange orange crystal was contained in. Now that he was closer to the crystal he could feel a strange pulse coming from it that almost felt like a heartbeat.

    “Okay, it looks like there’s one person in there with it.” Ash whispered to Misty and Brock. “But he’s facing away from us, so if we’re quite we should be able to sneak in.”

    “Why are we even doing this?” Misty asked.

    “I don’t know.” Ash answered as he grabbed the doorknob and slowly opened the door. He watched the dark metallic aura of the man inside, who seemed to be busy working on something on the table he was sitting at. When the door was fully open, Ash opened his eyes so that he could see with his normal vision.

    The room looked like it was some kind of lab. Strange machines lined the walls and the few tables scattered around were covered in what seemed like junk to Ash. The orange crystal was sitting inside of some sort of containment unit on the back wall that was hooked up to several other devices. The crystal seemed to glow just as brightly as it had when he was looking at it through closed eyes. If anything it was even brighter since he could no longer see the dark fog that covered it before.

    Ash glanced over at the man seated at one of the tables. He was dressed strangely, wearing a spiked red jacket and some kind of golden helmet. Ash could see over the man’s shoulder that he was fiddling with some strange black Pokéballs of a design he had never seen before. Ash figured there was nothing he could actually do here and was just about to leave when he saw something in the corner of the room that caught his attention. His, Misty’s and Brock’s bags were propped up against a wall with their jackets in a pile next to them and their belts, with Pokéballs still on them resting on the edge of a nearby table.

    Ash snuck over to the corner and grabbed his belt off the table, putting it back on around his waist. He was just reaching to grab his jacket when the man sitting at the table swore loudly and Ash froze. He turned around slowly to see the man standing up now while a small plume of smoke drifted up from the black Pokéball he had been working on.

    “Not again.” The man growled. “And I was so close.”

    Ash knew that there was no way he would be able to get out of this situation without the man noticing him, so a confrontation was inevitable. Rather than run the risk of the man getting the upper hand, Ash chose to make the first move. He reached down to his belt and grabbed two of his Pokéballs, sending out Sandshrew and Krabby to attack the man. Sandshrew used Rollout to knock the man off his feet and Krabby used Mud Sport, knocking the man out. Misty and Brock both peered into the room to see what just happened.

    “What’s going on in here?” Misty asked as she saw the unusual scene before them.

    “Never mind that.” Ash pointed to bags sitting in the corner. “Now grab your stuff and let’s get out of this place.”

    “But didn’t you want to find out what that crystal is?”

    “I just had my Pokémon knock a guy out. I’d rather not stick around long enough to have to do something like that again.”
    * * *​
    Wes and Hunter J stared each other down intensely as they both waited for the other to make the next move. All six legendary beasts stood at attention, ready to make a move as soon as the order was given. Sparks threw through the air, literally due to the two Raikou and figuratively from the sheer tension that had formed between mother and child. Wes’ contempt for his mother had been steadily building for as long as he could remember, and at last, he could finally vent his frustration against her. Hunter J, on the other hand, felt angry and a little betrayed that her son refused to see things her way.

    “Attack!”

    “Now!”

    The two Jaegers both shouted to their Pokémon at once. Clouds filled the sky as the winds howled and rain, snow and hail fell from the sky in a mighty storm the likes of which Kanto had not seen in living memory. Bolts of lightning struck down from the sky accompanied by deafening thunder, while fire and lava sprung forth from the ground.

    A single Legendary Pokémon was a force not to be reckoned with, with powers far beyond what most mortals could ever dream of having. Even the Beasts, among the lowest of the Legendary hierarchy, barely above the level of regular Pokémon, could leave behind great devastation in their wake if they so choose. And there were currently six Legendary Beasts locked in battle.
    Giovanni sat at his desk waiting for some word from the agents currently scouring Saffron City for Carmine. He didn’t show it, but the leader of Team Rocket was starting to get nervous. A red light started flashing on Giovanni’s desk and he turned to Mallory, who had been standing beside him. She nodded back to him and quickly walked out of the room. Once Mallory shut the door behind her, Giovanni pressed the button underneath his desk.

    Nine large screens slid down the wall in front of Giovanni and the center screen lit up. The Foundation’s President and Chairman of the Council stared angrily at Giovanni. Giovanni noted that he appeared to have gained several pounds since the last time they had spoken. Giovanni knew the man well enough to know what that meant.

    “You’re worried about something.” It was a statement, not a question.

    “Of course I am!” The President could barely contain his frustration. “There’s been a lot going on lately.”

    “Oh, that reminds me.” Giovanni said nonchalantly, not willing to show the President any sign that things weren’t going well on his end, either. “Congratulations on the birth of your daughter. I hope you liked my gift.”

    “My wife wanted to burn it as soon as she saw it.” The President said. A small smile started to break up his look of discontent as he recalled the memory. But the smile quickly vanished as soon as it appeared. “But that’s not why I called you.”

    “I would assume you’re going to tell me when we’re having the meeting to vote on who should take Evice’s seat on the council.” Giovanni said.

    The President glanced to the side nervously. ”I’m afraid we’ve already held that vote.”

    Giovanni absently clenched his fists tightly as he tried to keep his composure. “Then why wasn’t I informed?”

    “Well, you see…” The President tried to find a good way to tell him. “I’m afraid I don’t have time to say right now. Our next meeting is just about to start.”

    The President pressed the button on his desk that sent out a summons to all of the members of the council. One by one the other screens lit up as the council members answered the call.
    * * *​
    The ferocious battle continued to rage on around Wes and Hunter J as their Legendary Beasts unleashed all of their power against each other. In order to avoid harm from the raging storm the battle brought, Wes called his Suicune over and hopped onto its back, ducking under the cloud-like mane for protection. As he did so he saw that his mother had the same idea, climbing onto her own Suicune’s back as well. It pained Wes to know that they thought so much alike.

    Unfortunately, Wes could no longer see the battle going on around him, which meant that he could not direct his Pokémon. He trusted that they could take care of themselves, however, so he clung on tightly to Suicune’s fur in an effort not to fall off of its back as Suicune continued to fight.

    After a few minutes, Wes could no longer hear the battle going on and Suicune seemed to stop moving around. He cautiously climber back down to the ground and looked around to see that Hunter J and her Pokémon had apparently fled the battlefield. Wes’ Suicune, Entei and Raikou were now calmly tending to their injuries.

    “Well, that was short.” Wes commented, trying to figure out why she would just suddenly leave like that. He looked around at the area around them and saw that the battle had completely reshaped the surrounding landscape. “We’re going to get in so much trouble for this.”
    * * *​
    Hunter J climbed off of his Suicune as soon as she was sure that Wes wasn’t following her. She would have liked to finish their battle, but she knew enough not to refuse a summons from the council, as inconvenient as the timing may be. She sent out her camera drone to get a good picture of her and tapped a button on the side of her visor. Several panels popped up along her visor showing the silhouettes of the council members. She knew, of course, that she would not be permitted to see the council members themselves until she was officially inducted into their group.

    “Now that we’re all here,” said a man who Hunter J knew must be the council’s chairman, “I call this meeting of the Council to order. We are here now to discuss the results of our last meeting, where we voted on who would take the open seat on the council. At that meeting it was voted for the new council member to be… Greevil Verich.”

    Hunter J felt like the whole world stopped for a moment. She had been so confident that she would be the one to join the council. She had been working towards this for years. How could she possibly have lost?

    “In addition it has been agreed that one of our number shall be taken off the council due to resent events.”

    Hunter J perked up at this. If someone was leaving the council, then that would mean that there was another seat available. She still had a chance.

    “Giovanni Rozzo has been voted off of the council and Jael Jaeger has been voted to take his place.”
    * * *​
    “What?” Giovanni yelled furiously. “This is an outrage! You can’t do this to me!”

    “I’m sorry, Giovanni. But the vote was held. You are no longer a part of the council.”

    Giovanni raised an accusative finger up to one of the screens, showing a man with short spikey blue hair. “You’re the one behind this, aren’t you Cyrus? You’ve always had it out for me!”

    “It doesn’t matter who suggested you be removed.” Cyrus said as cold and emotionless as ever. “You were voted out, which means that your exclusion was the will of the council.”

    “And can you really blame us?” Asked the man with long bushy green hair. “Considering how erratic you’ve been lately and how much damage your organization has caused.”

    “Oh, like your one to talk, Ghetsis.” Giovanni said. “We all know how crazed you can get on a bad day.”

    “That’s enough.” Said the chairman.

    “And you!” Giovanni turned his attention to his old friend. “Are you really going to go with this, Mohn?”

    “I’m sorry, Giovanni, but it’s not up to me. A vote was held and it was decided that you should be removed from the council. Now, without any further ado, this meeting is closed.”

    Giovanni tried to object further, but Mohn pressed the button on his desk and the line was cut. The wall of screen retracted back up into the ceiling. Giovanni sat back in his chair and stared wide eyed on the wall. First the intruders and now this. He wondered if things could get any worse for himself, but immediately regretted the thought as the door to his office has flung off of its hinges with Mallory and Agents Jessie, James and Meowth all being thrown into the room. Giovanni tried to regain his composure as a Feraligatr walked in with its trainer right behind it.

    “Hey, Giovanni.” Carmine said with a false cheer. “Long time, no see. You haven’t happened to have seen an obnoxious ten year old and a couple of Gym Leaders, have you? It’s kind of in your best interest that I find them safe and sound.”
    * * *​
    Hunter J raised her fists in the air triumphantly. Years of working her way up in the world had finally payed off. Having a seat in the council meant that she was now one of the most powerful people in the world. Nothing could take this from her.

    Her victory was cut short, however, when she then received a call. She answered it and the image of a short, jolly looking bald man popped up on her visor.

    “Hello!” He said cheerily. “You must me Miss Jaeger. I’ve heard a lot about you.”

    “Who is this?” Hunter J asked.

    “Oh, right. I haven’t introduced myself. How rude of me. You can call me Mr. Verich, Grand Master of Cipher and, along with you, one of the newest members of the council. I just called to let you know… that I will destroy you.” The man’s cheery façade gave way for a second before he resumed his false cheer. “Anyway, congratulations on this great achievement.”

    Mr. Verich hung up, leaving Hunter J to ponder his words.

    “What the Distortion World?” She muttered. “Who does that guy think he is?”
    The Iron Masked Marauder slowly stood up, trying to clutch his head with one hand, though his helmet got in the way.

    “What hit me, a Rhydon?” He muttered to himself as he looked around at his lab. He didn’t notice anything out of the ordinary at first until he realized that the items confiscated from the intruders were missing. “Oh, bother. They must have escaped and knocked me out to get their stuff back. And their Pokémon were going to make such perfect test subjects for my Dark Balls.”

    The Iron Masked Marauder looked over to the black Pokéballs he had been working on earlier and sighed. He was going to pull out his radio and give an alert about the intruders but then decided on another idea. He reached for one of the six black and yellow buttons on the red jacket he wore over his Team Rocket uniform and pulled it out. The Ultra Ball grew to full size as he pressed the button on its front and his favorite Pokémon materialized from the yellow energy released from it. Dark Scizor kneeled before its master, awaiting an order.

    “Find those brats and capture them. I think they’ve just earned themselves the right to be turned Dark. It’s what they get for defying me.”

    Dark Scizor glided out of the room in pursuit of its targets so fast that the Iron Masked Marauder could barely follow its movement. The dark red Pincer Pokémon dashed through the empty hallways of the Silph Corp. building before quickly catching up to Ash, Misty and Brock. It raised back its right pincer as it closed the gap between them and let loose with a Bullet Punch. The attack was just a warning, however, and Scizor used the momentum of the attack to go between Ash and Brock, passing the trio and blocking their way.

    “Where did that Pokémon come from?” Brock asked in shock.

    “It doesn’t matter.” Ash reached down to his belt. “It looks like we’ll be fighting our way out of here now.”
    * * *​
    “Is that any way to greet an old friend?” Giovanni asked Carmine mockingly as he walked around his desk so that they could face each other directly.

    “We were never friends.” Carmine growled.

    “Oh, you’re right.” Giovanni corrected himself. “We were something more than that, we were family.”

    Jessie, James and Meowth all looked at Giovanni in confusion as they stood back up, unsure as to what he was talking about. Mallory, on the other hand, knew exactly what he was referring to.

    “Speaking of which, where is your sister, anyway?” Giovanni continued. “It’s been so long since I’ve seen Scarlet.”

    “DON’T YOU DARE SAY HER NAME!”

    Without thought or hesitation, Carmine suddenly lost all composure and decked Giovanni in the face. Giovanni’s Persian lept up from its resting place and charged at Carmine to protect its master, but stopped as Giovanni held his hand up to it.

    “And why shouldn’t I say her name.” Giovanni taunted, Carmine fist still pressed hard against his cheek. “She is my wife, after all.”

    “Ex-.” Carmine corrected him.

    “What does that matter?” Giovanni asked, then knocked Carmine’s arm away and punched him in the gut.

    Carmine took a step back from the force of the blow and blocked a left hook from Giovanni by ducking down and charging at Giovanni, crashing into the desk. Giovanni slipped out of Carmine’s grasp and rolled away towards the large window on the southern side of his office. Carmine chased after him and the two exchanged several more blows before Carmine was able to pin Giovanni against the window by pressing his elbow up against Giovanni’s neck.

    “Give me one good reason why I shouldn’t just toss you out there and let you fall.” Carmine said furiously.

    “Because-” Giovanni started to say, before kicking Carmine in the shin, causing Carmine to release his hold and allowing Giovanni to grab Carmine by the through and shove him against the window. “That’s what I was going to do to you.”

    Giovanni kicked Carmine in the stomach with as much strength as he could muster, breaking the window and sending Carmine hurtling down towards the streets below. Giovanni backed away from the window and wiped the back of his hand against his mouth. Jessie, James and Meowth stared at their boss in stunned silence, while Mallory simply smirked.

    “It looks like I’ll be needing a new suit.” Giovanni remarked. “This one’s stained now.”

    Giovanni suddenly stumbled back several steps while the others were knocked to the floor as a sudden earthquake shook the area. Giovanni turned around to look out the broken window in horror. A giant red eye stared back at him and a deafening roar echoed through the area.

    “Arceus!” Giovanni swore. “I knew he had it.”
    * * *​
    Dark Scizor backflipped out of the way of Pika’s ThunderShock and landed on the wall, which it then jumped off of to avoid a Water Gun from Misty’s Starmie. The Bug-type then charged forward between the two Pokémon and head-butted Brock’s Graveler with an Iron Head attack. The Super Effective attack knocked the Rock Pokémon back so that Ash, Misty and Brock had to press up against the walls to get out if its way. Dark Scizor then chased after Graveler and did a mid-air spin as it reached the Rock-type in order to build up more momentum for a Bullet Punch, sending Graveler crashing through the wall.

    Pika and Starmie chased after Dark Scizor, who in turn followed Graveler though the newly created hole in the wall into a large empty room full of cubicles. Starmie tried to hit Dark Scizor with a Water Gun as soon as it spotted the Scizor, only to find that it was only a Double Team copy. The copy disappeared as the attack passed harmlessly through it and hit Graveler instead. The real Dark Scizor was hiding behind the now-unconscious Graveler and hit it with another Bullet Bunch to send Graveler flying into Starmie, pinning it against a wall, leaving Pika as the only one of the three Pokémon still able to battle.

    Knowing that he wouldn’t be able to defeat Dark Scizor in a head-on battle, Pika used Discharge to release his electrical energy around himself, destroying the surrounding cubicles and sending various documents and papers flying through the air. Dark Scizor used Double Team, falling right into Pikachu’s trap. The papers flying around the room were filled with a static charge from Pikachu’s attack, which caused them to cling lightly to the real Scizor while simply passing through the doubles, allowing Pikachu to easily identify which was the real Scizor.

    Pika used a Double Team of its own as a distraction so that Scizor would go after the duplicates, allowing Pika to easily sneak behind Dark Scizor and hit it from behind with a Brick Break. All of Dark Scizor’s doubles vanished as the Pincer Pokémon crashed into the carpeted floor, which was filled with even more static. This made it slightly harder for Dark Scizor to get back up, creating just enough extra time for Pika to hit Dark Scizor with a Thunder Wave, followed by another Brick Break. The Bug and Steel-type was now rendered Paralyzed by the Thunder Wave, providing Pika the chance to hit it with two more Brick Breaks before Dark Scizor finally collapsed.

    Now that their opponent was defeated, Pika ran to the massive hole in the wall that led back out into the hallway and signaled to Ash and the others that it was now safe. Ash, Misty and Brock hesitantly walked into the room and Misty and Brock recalled their fainted Pokémon.

    “Good job, Pika!” Ash said as the yellow rodent climbed up to his shoulder. “And look, that wall is made out of glass.”

    “Those are windows.” Brock pointed out.

    “Whatever, it still takes up the whole wall. All we have to do is break through it and we can fly down with Fearow.”

    “That means we can finally get out of this stupid place!” Misty said excitedly.

    “That’s right. Now we just need-”

    Ash was cut off as a flash of blue light came from outside and a sudden earthquake hit. Ash, Misty and Brock were knocked down to the floor. When they got back up, all they could see outside the windows was blackness as a horrifying roar filled the air.

    “W-what’s going on?” Misty asked, terrified.

    “What… is that thing?” Brock said as he cautiously approached the windows.

    “I’m not sure.” Ash answered them both. “But… I think I have an idea. There’s something that I used to hear stories about when I was younger, but I never thought I’d ever see it myself. A monstrous Pokémon that ravaged Johto before I was even born, but was stopped by my dad and Carmine: The Cianwood Tyranitar.”
    “That’s it, I’ve had quite enough of this.” Giovanni said as he turned his back on the Cianwood Tyranitar. “Initiate Operation Pay Day.”

    Mallory pulled out her Pokégear to send the order out for him but was interrupted, as a shard of ice shot past her hand. Giovanni turned around to see that the black Tyranitar had lowered its head to reveal Carmine kneeling there with his Sneasel beside him, ready to launch another attack if necessary.

    “Belay that order.” Carmine said as he jumped back into the room.

    “Come back for more?” Giovanni asked him bitterly.

    “Not exactly. You see, I have a bit of a…” he paused, trying to find the right word, “proposition for you.”

    “I think you mean ultimatum.”

    “Yes, well, you’d be the expert on that, wouldn’t you?”

    “Just get on with it.”

    “Fine, fine.” Carmine shrugged. “What I’m offering is a battle, one-on-one. If you win, I’ll stop going after you. From that moment on, I promise never to get in your way again so long as you stay out of Pallet Town.”

    “And if I lose?” Giovanni asked, intrigued that Carmine would be willing to make such a huge gamble.

    “You’re still the Gym Leader of Viridian City, right?”

    “Yes.” Giovanni had no idea where Carmine was going with this.

    “If you lose, then you will shut down everything involving Operation Payday and remove all of your operations from Saffron City. In addition, the winner will be rewarded with an Earth Badge.” Carmine turned to leave back out the window.

    “Why would you want an Earth Badge?” Giovanni asked him.

    “On the roof, five minutes. If you don’t show up, well, my Tyranitar out there can easily take down this whole building with you in it if I give him the order. I’d suggest you show up.” With that, Carmine jumped out onto Tyranitar’s head, leaving Giovanni to ponder his options.
    * * *​
    “Brock, can you have one of your Pokémon break through the window so that we can get out?” Ash asked Brock.

    “Are you crazy?” Was Brock’s response. “There’s a monster out there.”

    “It’s okay, that thing’s on our side. Now, can you break the window or not?”

    “Fine.” Brock relented. He pulled out one of his Pokéballs and called out Rhyhorn. The gray Pokémon smashed through the windows with its horn, it’s tough armor protecting it from the broken glass.

    “All right!” Ash yelled excitedly before jumping out the window into the open air, falling between the building and the black Tyranitar.

    “Ash!” Misty screamed, running up to the window. She immediately had to take a step back, however, as Ash’s Fearow fly up, with Ash riding on its back.

    “Come on, grab onto his legs.” Ash called out to Misty and Brock. The two hesitated, but knowing that they had no other options, they both jumped out and held desperately onto Fearow’s legs. The large bird Pokémon dropped down briefly before flying up even higher.

    They flew up above the Cianwood Tyranitar’s head, where they found Carmine standing on the flat of its head above its eyes. After circling around a couple times, Fearow landed atop the Tyranitar and the three climbed off of the Beak Pokémon.

    “Are you okay?” Ash asked Carmine, noticing the injuries from his earlier brawl.

    “I’m fine.” Carmine answered without turning around to face them. “What about you?”

    “We’ve been better, but we’re alright for now.”

    “Good. And what about your Pokémon?”

    “They should be fine. Why?” Ash asked, confused.

    “Because you’ve got a battle coming up. Now follow me.” Carmine lifted up an Ultra Ball and a Skarmory flew out. He grabbed onto the Armor Bird Pokémon’s legs and it flew him up to the roof. Ash and the others followed on Fearow.

    “What’s going on?” Ash asked Carmine as he recalled Fearow back into its Pokéball.

    Carmine finally turned around to look at the others as he recalled his Skarmory. “You two.” He pointed at Misty and Brock. “You’re Gym Leaders, right? What do you know about the Viridian Gym Leader.”

    All three kids looked at him in confusion.

    “Uh… well, he’s supposed to be the Ground-type specialist of the region.” Misty said hesitantly.

    “We’ve never actually met him.” Brock explained. “In fact, I don’t think anyone’s ever seen him in years. Why?”

    “No reason.” Carmine turned around again to face the roof access doorway just as it started to creak open. “Oh, look. He’s here already.”

    Giovanni walked out onto the roof, accompanied only by his Persian and looking surprisingly calm given the situation. “Let’s get this stupid game of yours out of the way, Carmine. Who is it you want me to beat.”

    “I believe you mean, ‘who do I want you to be beaten by?’.” Carmine mockingly corrected him, placing a hand on Ash’s shoulder.

    “Oh, you’ve got to be joking.” Giovanni let out a chuckle. “A child? You do realize how much you’re putting at stake with this battle, right? You do know what Operation Pay Day is, don’t you?”

    “Oh, of course I know. But I know how much you enjoy talking about that master plan of yours so why don’t you explain it anyway, so Ash here knows what he’s dealing with.”

    Ash looked back and forth between Carmine and Giovanni, having completely lost track of what was going on. Misty and Brock were similarly confused.

    “Alright then.” Giovanni turned his attention to Ash and pulled something out of his pocket. “Can you tell me what this is, boy?”

    “T-that’s just a coin.” Ash answered nervously.

    “Yes. Specifically, it’s the kind of gold coin that the Pokémon known as Meowth keeps on the center of its head. Humans have coveted these simple golden coins since time immemorial, even going so far as to use them as a form of currency, one that is still widely used today. Meowth and their evolved form, Persian, are capable of creating these coins using their special attack, Pay Day. The reason these coins are able to be used as a proper currency even though they can easily be created from almost nothing is because many of these coins are removed from circulation for one reason or another, be they lost, damaged or otherwise just neglected. The number of new coins created remains relatively close to the number of those lost, allowing us to use them as money without worrying about too many being created, which would cause them lose their worth and destabilize the economy. However, if someone were to, say, gather thousands of Meowths and Persians and have them all use Pay Day as much as they can, it wouldn’t take more than a few days before they could completely devastate the economy and if you were to equip them all with Lucky Coins, which double the number of coins they can make, then you could do it only half the time. Operation Pay Day is exactly that. If I give the order then I have operatives all over that will order their Pokémon to create as many coins as they can. By the time the sun rises tomorrow morning, the nation’s economy would be left in ruins. By the end of the week, the entire planet would be left in utter chaos. And once I beat you, boy, I will give that order.”

    Ash stared at Giovanni in horror. He wasn’t able to fully grasp all of what he had been told, but he knew it was bad. He turned to Carmine to see that the man looked perfectly calm.

    “Oh, you won’t be giving that order, Giovanni.” Carmine said. “You see, Ash isn’t just a kid, he’s the son of Graham Ketchum.”

    Giovanni’s smile faltered as he recognized that name. “What does it matter who the boy’s father was? I will defeat him all the same.”

    “I’ve been training Ash personally ever since he started his Pokémon journey. He may have started off rough, but he’s come a long way since then and I’ve seen in him the potential to be even greater than his father was. It’s true that I’m putting a lot at stake in this battle, but that’s only because I have every confidence in Ash. He can defeat you, Giovanni.” Carmine turned to Ash and smiled. “I know you can. Now give him everything you’ve got.”

    Ash stared at him, unsure of what to say. Carmine just nodded at him and Ash turned to face Giovanni, who pulled out an Ultra Ball and held it out. A beam of yellow energy shot out and from it materialized the large, imposing form of a Rhydon.

    “Come on, boy.” Giovanni said. “Show me what you’ve got.”
    Ash inhaled sharply as he tried to build up his courage. Just when he was thinking that this night couldn’t get any worse, he somehow got roped into a Pokémon battle against the leader of Team Rocket himself. Ash felt that he was woefully unprepared for this, but he had no choice. Taking another breath, Ash reached down to grab his Krabby’s Pokéball and wishing that he had taken his training more seriously and evolved the water-type already so that it would be able to stand a better chance against the powerful Rhydon that served as their first opponent.

    “Metal Claw!” Ash yelled as he threw the Pokéball.

    Krabby emerged from the Pokéball, leaping towards Rhydon, his right pincer shining a bright silver from the energy of the attack. Rhydon tried to defend against the attack by crossing its arms in a defensive stance, only for Krabby to switch the attack to its other pincer at the last second and hit Rhydon in the stomach with it. Rhydon was forced to take a step back from the attack but quickly regained its balance. It closed its eyes for a second as two rings of glowing white energy surrounded it. Krabby tried to attack with a Bubble Beam but Rhydon’s eyes suddenly flashed as its Stone Edge attack was ready and rocks started launching out of light rings, popping all of the bubbles in Krabby’s attack as they flew right towards Krabby. Krabby was expecting this, however, and was able to dodge the attack by side-jumping out of the way and he launched another Bubble Beam. Rhydon, furious, tried pelting Krabby with another volley of Stone Edge while preparing its next move Horn Drill.

    Rhydon took several steps back and leaned forward to brace itself on its forelegs, assuming a charging stance. Krabby was too busy trying to avoid the Stone Edge to get out of the way of the attack, but to both Krabby and Ash’s surprise, Rhydon didn’t charge. Instead, Rhydon Pokémon lept forward, spinning in midair so rapidly that it looked as if the Drill Pokémon had become an actual drill. Krabby didn’t have time to dodge the attack and there was no way it would be able to take the full force of the blow, leaving Krabby with only one option. If his timing was even a fraction of a second off, then it would be the end for him, but this was no time to second-guess himself. Krabby raised its pincer, which glowed silver in preparation for another Iron Claw. Just as Rhydon was about to reach Krabby, the River Crab Pokémon was able to strike it with Iron Claw, knocking the Drill Pokémon off its projector and knocking it into the floor. Ash and the others had to dodge the debris that flew everywhere as Rhydon crashed through the roof and fell into the building below.

    Krabby’s whole body began to glow, a sign that it was evolving. Giovanni sent out his next Pokémon, Golem, and had it us Rollout in an attempt to hit Krabby before he could finish his evolution, but was too late. Instead, Golem crashed straight into the newly-evolved Kingler’s Metal Claw. The boost in power it gained from both its evolution and its now enlarged left pincer allowed Kingler’s Iron Claw to hit even harder than it had against Rhydon, causing Golem to be sent bouncing back in an almost comical fashion, cracking the roof each time it landed before it was able to get back onto its stumpy feet. Kingler sprayed a Bubble Beam from its mouth at Golem. Golem took the attack head-on before retracting its head, arms and legs into its rocky exterior and rolling towards Kingler. Kingler prepared to hit Golem with another Iron Claw, but as soon as the attack landed, Golem used Explosion. Kingler was sent flying into the air before crashing back down next to Ash while Golem was sent rolling out of control, nearly falling off the edge of the roof before Giovanni recalled it.

    “Good job, Kingler.” Ash whispered as he recalled his Pokémon back into its Pokéball. He was feeling much more confident than at the start of the battle and was beginning to think that he might actually win this.

    “Don’t let this go to your head.” Giovanni warned him. “Just because it seems like your winning now doesn’t mean that I will allow you to make any further progress in this fight. I underestimated you, or rather, I underestimated your luck. I will not make that same mistake again.”

    Giovanni tossed another Ultra Ball, revealing his next Pokémon to be a Nidoqueen. Ash considered which one of his Pokémon to use next and decided on Sandshrew, hoping that the Ground-type would be able to evolve like his Krabby had. The moment Sandshrew set foot on the roof, however, Nidoqueen launched an Ice Beam at it. Ash hadn’t been expecting the Poison and Ground-type Nidoqueen to have any Ice-type moves and was thrown off by this, but fortunately, Sanshrew’s small size had it easy to dodge out of the way. Before Nidoqueen was able to fire another Ice Beam, Sandshrew used Magnitude, sending a shockwave through the floor beneath him which caused the section of the roof between the spots that Golem had cracked earlier to collapse under Nidoqueen’s feet. Nidoqueen tried to jump to safety, but Sanshrew jumped up and slammed into Nidoqueen with a Rapid Spin, causing Nidoqueen to fall below like Rhydon had earlier. Sandshrw began to glow like Krabby had and, sure enough, evolved into a Sandslash.

    Giovanni clenched his fists tightly. “It would appear that I was wrong. Apparently I was still underestimating that luck of yours. But we’ll see how long that lasts. Blizzard!”

    Giovanni sent out a Nidoking, whose horn began to glow light blue as the winds around them started to blow around violently and the temperature dropped substantially. Snow and ice began shooting out of Nidoking’s horn and was blown around by the wind, pelting Sandslash mercilessly and not providing any way for him to escape the attack. By the time the Blizzard stopped, Sandshrew had fallen unconscious.

    Ash’s confidence was beginning to waver again, but he was still winning. Unfortunately, he was running out of good Pokémon to use. Ghastly was his only real option at this point, as Fearow would fall to Nidoking’s Blizzard attack as easily as Sandslash had, and Pika and Volty would both be almost useless against Giovanni’s Ground-type Pokémon.

    It was at that point that Ash realized something. Right before the battle started, Carmine had asked Misty and Brock knew about the Viridian Gym Leader. It seemed random at the time, but Misty had said that he was a Ground-type specialist and so far all of Giovanni’s Pokémon had been Ground-types. Did that mean…

    “No.” Ash told himself. “That couldn’t be. But still, it would make sense.”

    “What are you mumbling about?” Giovanni asked angrily. “Have you realized that you have no hope of defeating me?”

    “No.” Ash said as he grabbed Gastly’s Pokéball off of his belt. “I was just wondering how you can still be so full of yourself when it’s so obvious that you’re going to lose.”

    “Funny, I could say the same thing. Now, are you going to send out your next Pokémon anytime soon, or are you just going to admit defeat?”

    “Yeah, yeah. Hold your Ponytas.” Ash said as he tossed Gastly’s Pokéball. The black and purple Gas Pokémon floated in the air in front of Ash with a confident smile that mirrored Ash’s own.

    Nidoking took a step forward, but he was too close to the damaged section of the roof, which started to crack beneath him, causing Nidoking to have to step back. This distraction proved disastrous for Nidoking, as it gave Gastly enough time to use Hypnosis. Nidoking was lured to sleep, which allowed Gastly to bombard Nidoking with Nightshade. Nidoking awoke quickly, but Gastly immediately used Confuse Ray, creating a ball of light that flew into Nidoking and inflicted it with confusion. Nidoking’s horn started to glow as it tried to use Blizzard again, but due to its confusion, the attack backfired and Nidoking knocked itself flat on its face, causing the roof to collapse underneath him.

    “That’s an interesting strategy you have.” Giovanni said, sounding almost impressed. “With each one of my Pokémon you defeat, you manage to take out more and more of the battlefield, making it harder for my Pokémon due to their large size and heavy weight. Unfortunately, that strategy won’t work any longer, as my last two Pokémon are both quite nimble and light on their feet. Now! Go Hitmonlee!”

    “A Fighting-type.” Ash muttered to himself. “So I was wrong, after all.”
    Giovanni’s Hitmonlee emerged from its Ultra Ball and landed safely on the damaged rooftop. The Kicking Pokémon’s extendable legs allowed it to easily avoid the many holes that littered the area. Despite this, Ash remained confident that at the very least, he had the advantage in the current match-up in that his Gastly would be immune to Hitmonlee’s Fighting-type moves. His confidence soon began to waver again as Hitmonlee opened with a Blaze Kick, the flames of the attack being able to burn Gastly, but he held fast.

    “Gastly, use Night Shade!”

    The Gas Pokémon let out a wave of spectral energy that knocked Hitmonlee back, almost knocking it into the hole behind where it had been standing. But unfortunately for Ash, Hitmonlee proved that its arms were just as stretchy as its legs and it was able to catch itself, dangling from all for limbs over the hole leading down to the floor below. Not wanting the battle to go on any longer than it had to, Gastly decided to use Curse, sacrificing his own health to cause a dark aura to surround Hitmonlee and quickly sap away its remaining health.

    “I think we’ve had enough of this.” Giovanni said calmly. “Foresight.”

    Hitmonlee’s eyes suddenly flashed brightly as a strange glimmer passed through them. It launched up into the air and struck Gastly with a High Jump Kick, despite the fact that the move shouldn’t have had any effect on him. Knowing that something was wrong, Gastly used Night Shade again in the hopes that it, along with the effects of Curse, would be enough to finish Hitmonlee off. Unfortunately, it was not and Hitmonlee struck him with a Mega Kick. Ghastly didn’t have much longer before he would pass out, so he used Lick on Hitmonlee in the hopes that his paralyzing saliva would prevent HItmonlee from attacking again. It didn’t seem to have any effect though, as Hitmonlee leapt up into the air for another High Jump Kick. However, Hitmonlee’s joints froze up mid-kick, allowing Gastly to hit it with another Night Shade and Hitmonlee was knocked down into one of the holes and crashed into the floor below.

    “Hah, take that!” Ash taunted Giovanni. “You’re down to your last Pokémon!”

    Giovanni smirked. “Are you sure about that?”

    Suddenly, Hitmonlee jumped back up and hit Gastly with a Mega Kick, knocking the Gas Pokémon out cold. Ash begrudgingly had to call Gastly back into its Pokéball and send Fearow out into the battle. The large Beak Pokémon fly imposingly over the battlefield as Hitmonlee assumed a crane-stance at it awaited Fearow’s first move.

    “Use Aerial Ace!” Ash ordered his Pokémon.

    Fearow flew up high and then dove back down towards Hitmonlee. Hitmonlee’s eyes glowed menacingly as Fearow approached it and suddenly dodged out of the way at the last second, avoiding Fearow’s move.

    “Wait, what? But Aerial Ace can’t be dodged.” Ash pointed out in confusion.

    “Not under normal circumstances, no.” Giovanni laughed. “But with Detect, any move can be dodged. A rare move for Hitmonlee to have, yes, but one that has come in handy a lot over the years.”

    Ash swore under his breath. “He is good. But I can still win this.”

    Fearow turned around in the air and flew towards Hitmonlee for another Aerial Ace. Hitmonlee tried to use Detect again but wasn’t fast enough. Fearow hit its target squarely in the chest and knocked Hitmonlee onto the ground. Hitmonlee was able to use its momentum to get back up again immediately, however, and hit Fearow with a Mega Kick, knocking the large bird to the ground in the process. Fearow lifted itself up and used Pluck, striking Hitmonlee in the arm with his beak. Hitmonlee winced and tried to hit Fearow with another Mega Kick, but Fearow was able to fly back into the air and dodge the attack before swooping back in for another Aerial Ace. Hitmonlee stumbled back from the blow and walked straight into a hole, falling back down to the floor below. Ash and Fearow both waited for Hitmonlee to jump back up again, but it never did, so Ash looked over at Giovanni who was smirking again.

    “Retaliate!” Giovanni yelled as he pointed his finger at Fearow. His Persian, which had been standing idly at his side since he came out onto the roof, suddenly pounced into action, slashing at Fearow with its sharp claws and knocking him out.

    Ash held out Fearow’s Pokéball and recalled the Beak Pokémon before returning the Pokéball for his belt. His only remaining Pokémon were Pika and Volty. The two were similar in power, with Pika being slightly stronger while Volty was faster and more agile. He wasn’t sure which would be the better fit for this fight, but he had to make a decision.

    “Pika! Volt Tackle!” He said as he pointed at Persian the same way Giovanni had pointed at Fearow just a moment earlier.

    The Electric Mouse Pokémon eagerly ran along Ash’s arm and jumped off, surrounding himself in electricity as he hurtled through the air like a rocket and crashed head-first into Persian. The Classy Cat Pokémon stumbled back as the electrical current continued to flow through its body until it dissipated thanks to Persian’s Limber ability. Persian’s right paw then began to glow with purple energy as it lashed out with a Night Slash. The attack struck Pika across the face, but Pika didn’t let it faze him. Instead, he jumped up into the air and hit Persian in the back with a Brick Break. Persian let out a roar and used Feint Attack, disappearing for a second before reappearing behind Pika and hitting him in the back. Pika then used Discharge and jumped up into the air again to hit Persian with another Brick Break. Persian tried to dodge the attack, but the Discharge slowed Persian’s reaction time so that it was unable to get out of the way in time and took the full force of the attack.

    Persian quickly whipped around and smacked Pika across the face with a Tail Whip followed up with a Bite. Pika tried to use Discharge to force Persian to let go, but instead, the Classy Cat Pokémon tightened its jaw, squeezing Pika even harder. Knowing that there would be no other way to escape, Pika tried one last plan. He let loose a Thunder Shock, aiming straight down Persian’s throat and electrifying its insides. This proved to be enough to force Persian to loosen its grip just enough for Pika to force himself out of Persian’s mouth and smack Persian in the head with one final Brick Break. Pika retained a defensive position as Persian slouched onto the ground, ready to fend off another attack. But that attack never came.

    “I… I don’t believe.” Giovanni’s face had a look of utter shock as he dropped to his knees. “I was beaten… by a child…”

    “And of course you remember our agreement.” Carmine said.

    Giovanni glared at Carmine as his anger returned to him and he got back to his feet. “Of course I do. It will take some time, but all of our forces will be out of Saffron by this time tomorrow. It will be almost as if we were never here.”

    “And?” Carmine egged him on.

    “And I disband all teams assigned to Operation Pay Day. If one day, the economy lies in shambles due to a glaring flaw in the system, it will only be due to the inevitable and not by my hand.”

    “I believe there was one more thing.”

    “Fine.” Giovanni growled as he reached into his jacket pocket and pulled out a small object which he tossed at Ash, who caught it reflexively. “The next time we meet, I will make sure to repay you all a hundred-fold for this humiliation and you, Ketchum boy, will regret the day you ever dared to face me.”

    With those final words, Giovanni recalled his Persian into its Ultra Ball and headed back into the building the way he had come out. Ash held out his hand, staring at the small object he now held.

    “I was right after all.” He muttered to himself before turning to show it to Misty and Brock.

    “Wait, that’s an Earth Badge. Why would he…” Misty didn’t need to finish her question.

    “Giovanni was the missing Gym Leader.” Ash turned to Carmine. “And you knew this whole time.”

    “Of course I did.” Carmine shrugged. “Why else would I have arranged for you to fight him instead of beating him myself? You’re probably the first person in years to earn that badge. And that wasn’t even a Gym Battle, you beat him head-on in a full-on battle. Admittedly, he only had a few minutes to prepare, so those were probably just the Pokémon he had on hand and not his real battling team, but still. You did good kid. Anyway, we should probably get going now. It wouldn’t be a good idea to stick around here for much longer.”
    The lush, dark green grass of Route 7 waved gently as it was blown by the night’s wind. The sound of flapping could be heard getting closer and closer as two large birds flew in and landed on a small hill across the road from the entrance to the Underground Path. Carmine and Brock climbed off the back of Carmine’s Skarmory while Ash and Misty climbed off Ash’s Fearow.

    “Now what do we do?” Brock asked as the two bird Pokémon were recalled by their owners.

    “We wait.” Carmine answered. “An old friend is going to meet us here.”

    “Who?”

    “That would be me.” Brock, Misty and Ash all turned around to see who had spoken and started to panic as they saw Sabrina slowly walking up to them. “Don’t worry, I’m not going to attack you again. Carmine was able to reverse the effects of Team Rocket’s brainwashing.”

    “What?” Ash asked in confusion. “Brainwashing?”

    “It’s a long story.” Sabrina said in place of an explanation. “One which I won’t go into detail yet because I’m sure that Lance the other Gym Leaders will want to learn of the events that have transpired tonight. I’m already sent a message to Lance and I’m sure he will be calling an emergency meeting very soon. In fact, we might as well head over to the Indigo Plateau right now. My Alakazam can teleport us all there right now.”

    “Then what are we waiting around here for?” Carmine asked impatiently. “Let’s get going.”

    “Wait!” Ash shouted without meaning to. Everyone’s eyes focused on him, making Ash a little uncomfortable, but he continued. “I want an explanation. What’s been going on? Why is the leader of Team Rocket a Gym Leader? Why did you put so much at risk to have me fight him? Why do I suddenly see people’s spirits when I close my eyes?”

    Carmine and Sabrina both opened their eyes wide in surprise when they heard that last question.

    “What do you mean by ‘see people’s spirits’?” Carmine asked Ash, with a worried tone to his voice.

    “I don’t know.” Ash said. “Whenever I close my eyes I see… colors… where people should be. I can even see through solid objects with it.”

    Carmine and Sabrina turned towards each other, both recognizing what Ash was describing.

    “He can sense Auras.” Sabrina confirmed. “I can feel it in him.”

    “Oh, Lugia.” Carmine swore. “And I was so sure he hadn’t inherited that.”

    “What’s going on with me?” Ash cried desperately.

    “I have good news and bad news.” Carmine said as he turned back to Ash. “The good news is that you have a power that very few people in this world have and that will no doubt come in handy countless times as you head into the future. The bad news is that it comes with a great burden of responsibility as well. Your father had, no, has that power and it was the reason he was always going off to help out whenever people were in need before he disappeared. It wasn’t just because he was the strongest trainer around and felt he should help people. I mean, it was partly that as well, but the main reason was because it was his duty as an Aura Guardian.”

    Ash stared blankly into space as he tried to take in what he had just been told. His father had this ability too? Why hadn’t anyone told him? “Wait… but does that mean…” Ash started to ask.

    “No.” Carmine answered before Ash finished his question. “Your father would have gone to investigate Celadon Cave even he didn’t have those powers. He still would have disappeared. Anyway,” Carmine tried to change the subject, “We should probably be going now. We can figure out what to do about this later.”
    * * *​
    Red slowly woke up and opened his eyes. It was still dark out, so he tried to go back to sleep, but it was too late. He was already awake now. He stretched and sat up, looking around. Yellow was still sound asleep in Red’s sleeping bag. He really needed to get a new one for her, so that he wouldn’t have to keep lending her his bag. He was getting kind of tired of having to sleep on the ground. Red then looked over to Sable who, to Red’s surprise, was still wide awake and staring at the campfire, which she must have re-lit after Red went to sleep.

    “What are you still doing up?” Red asked the mysterious woman.

    “I can’t sleep.” Sable replied. “But it would appear that I am not the only one with that problem right now.”

    “I guess not.” Red said and he got up and walked over to sit by her.

    “Where do you come from?” Sable asked Red as he sat down.

    “I’m from Pallet Town, over in the western part of the reason.”

    “And now you are here, far from home and having to spend your nights in the wilderness. Why is that?”

    “I’m on my Pokémon journey.” Red explained. “I’m traveling the region to train and earn Gym Badges so that I can enter the Pokémon League and become the Champion.”

    “But what about her.” Sable gestured to Yellow. “Is she also on a Pokémon journey?”

    “No, that’s a bit complicated. Yellow has no memories of who she is or where she came from so decided to travel with me in the hope that she will be able to find some clue of who she is or someone who knows her.”

    “But you haven’t been able to find anything, have you?”

    “Not really.” Red admitted. “She has been able to get back little bits and pieces of her memory, but it’s mostly just random facts that she knows and nothing that can really help us find out who she is.”

    “Well, I hope you find something soon. I would like to know why she exists as well.”

    “What-” Red started to ask, but Sable cut him off.

    “Thank you for answering my questions, but I think it’s time that you go back to sleep.”

    “But I’m not… tired…” Red suddenly slouched to the side, resting on Sable’s shoulder and fast asleep. The fire blew out as Sable continued to sit there. She stared at Yellow for a moment, before looking up at the treetops nearby, where she was being watched from.

    “I know you’re there. You may not want to make yourself known just yet, but I know you’re watching her. Just like me.” Sable didn’t say a word and yet the Pikachu was still able to hear her speak. “I’m curious about you, too, but I am willing to wait.”
    * * *​
    Gary found himself standing on the beach. The sun shone brightly overhead while the roaring blue waves splashed against the golden sand underneath him. Gary turned around to try and figure out where he was, but then suddenly he felt himself being dragged into the sea by some unknown force. He fought against it but was quickly pulled in under the waves. The force that was pulling him down went away, but Gary was no falling down deeper and deeper into the dark ocean. He tried to swim up, but couldn’t move his arms or legs.

    Suddenly a massive stone structure came into view and he landed just in front of what appeared to be some sort of ancient temple or palace. He walked through the entrance way into the temple, not paying any attention to the fact that he could suddenly move again. Statues of various Pokémon lined the ornate hallway that led deeper into the temple. The end of the hallway opened up into a large chamber with a throne sitting at the other end, behind which was a giant statue of some ancient king. Gary felt drawn towards the throne and sat down in it. The same mysterious force that had pulled him beneath the waves before suddenly returned. Gary let out a scream and watched as the air bubbles streamed from his mouth.

    Gary closed his eyes and opened them to find himself back in his dad’s car. Kat and Sue were sitting to either side of him while Mal was in the front passenger seat and Ciel was driving. He looked up at the sky to see that the sun was just starting to rise above the horizon.

    ‘Was that just a dream?’ Gary thought to himself. He couldn’t remember having a dream that vivid before, but there was no way it could have been real. He wondered briefly if it could have meant something, but quickly put that thought behind him. That was silly, it was just a strange dream, nothing more.
     
    #9 Dec 15, 2017
    Last edited: Jan 15, 2018
  10. BZRich64

    BZRich64 The Mustachioed Machamp

    Pulgasari
    (Aron)
    Level 31
    Joined:
    Jun 12, 2017
    Posts:
    1,295
    PokéPoints:
    ₽590.7
    Wes made his way back to the Adonis Detective Agency just as dawn was breaking. To his mild surprise, Rui was waiting for him just outside the front door, leaning against the doorway. Her Pichu was resting lazily on her shoulder while her Riolu appeared to be having some sort of sparring match with its own shadow against the wall.

    “Where have you been?” Rui asked as Wes approached her.

    “Out.” Was Wes’ reply.

    “Out where?”

    “None of your business, mom.” Wes said sarcastically but then froze as he realized what it was that he had just said. “I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to compare you to that woman.”

    “It’s fine.” Rui replied, apparently not having even realized the connection until he pointed it out. “I knew what you meant. Anyway, Looker wanted to see us. He said it was important.”

    “Then I guess we better not keep the boss-man waiting much longer. But before that…” Wes walked up to Rui, reaching his hands into his pockets as he leaned up close to her with a sly smile. Rui backed up against the wall and closed her eyes, but nothing happened. She opened her eyes again to see Wes handing Pichu a small treat, which the baby Pokémon accepted greedily. “She looked hungry.”

    Rui glared at Wes with an expression he couldn’t quite read as he stepped away from her.

    “What?” He asked.

    “Nothing.” Rui replied a little too quickly.

    “Eh, whatever.” Wes stuck his hands back in his pockets and headed inside.

    Rui sighed and brushed off the newly-formed pile of crumbs on her shoulder before heading in after him. Pichu squealed in protest as she was going to save those crumbs as a snack for later. Meanwhile, Riolu remained oblivious to everything around it as it continued its impromptu training session.
    * * *​
    “It’s good to see that you are finally here.” Looker said as Wes and Rui each took a seat across from him in his office. “Where is it that you have been all night?”

    “Oh, I’m sure you’ll find out soon.” Wes said as he leaned back in his chair. “So where are Lance and that blonde girl?”

    “That was certainly an ominous answer.” Looker replied uneasily. “Lance is currently on route to the Indigo Plateau for an emergency meeting with his fellow Gym Leaders regarding a number of urgent events that have transpired last night. Apparently, there was some sort of commotion regarding Team Rocket in Saffron City that resulted in massive property damage and there are reports coming in of some kind of massive storm along Route 2 that has completely reshaped the terrain to an almost unrecognizable form.”

    “What?” Rui gasped.

    “Now that is news.” Wes said, not yet willing to admit his involvement in the second of those two events.

    “Lance will report back to us after the meeting to give us more details about what has happened and what they plan to do about it. As for agent 009…” Looker suddenly lowered his voice. “I have sent her away for the night to gather information about a possible Team Rocket sighting. I do not think she will be able to find any information on it, however.”

    “And why is that?” Wes asked, intrigued.

    “Because I have sent her after a false lead.” Looker’s explanation caught Wes’ attention even more. “You see, I think that we may have a Diglett in our organization.”

    “What?” Rui gasped again.

    “I have had my suspicions about agent 009 for some time.” Looker went on. “At first I thought it was my investigative instincts making me distrustful of those around me, but the facts just don’t seem to add up and last night’s incident in Saffron has proven to be the last piece of evidence I needed.”

    “I don’t follow.” Wes sat up in his chair. “Isn’t 009 the one who finds most of our intel on Team Rocket’s plans? Why would she keep giving us information about them if she’s working for them?”

    “I thought the same thing. But it has always felt to me like we were missing something. 009 has never revealed to me where she gets her information and what she gives us always feels like it is just a small part of their true plans. It feels as if we are being fed only the information that Team Rocket wants us to know as a form of misdirection. Moreover, during our search for possible leads into Team Rocket’s whereabouts, 009 was insistent that she search Saffron City alone and that she found nothing even remotely suspicious there. That itself was cause for concern, being such a large city and the center of commerce for the entire region it seemed out of place that Team Rocket would not have any sort of base there, but based off of what I have now been told it sounds as if the entire city has been under Team Rocket’s direct control for some time as their base of operations.”

    “What?” Wes and Rui both asked in astonishment at the same time.

    “Yes, it is very shocking news. I still don’t know all of the details as reports are still coming in, but it appears as if they have had the entire city in lockdown several months now and have been operating out of the Silph Corporation headquarters.”

    “But isn’t Silph Corp. the largest company in the area?” Wes asked. “How could they possibly pull that off?”

    “Exactly. We should have heard of this sooner. It would appear that the former CEO of the company recently retired and moved away to the Alola region after some sort of corporate buyout. No one was sure who had bought the company from him, but current evidence suggests that it was none other than Giovanni himself.”

    “This is a lot to take in.” Rui commented. “But if this is all true and it turns out that 009 is a traitor, then what do we do now?”

    “I am not sure.” Looker answered honestly. “For now, we should all just pretend that this conversation never happened. We act as if we know nothing of what happened in Saffron City and do not let her know that we suspect her until we have solid evidence that she is working for Team Rocket so that we can arrest her. Also, in the increasingly likely case that she is working for Team Rocket, 009 would not be a traitor. It would mean that she has never been on our side to begin with.”

    “I have a question.” Wes said. “Why are you letting us in on this? How do you know we’re not working for them, too?”

    “Wes!” Rui yelled, startled by his question.

    “No, he is right.” Looker said to Rui before turning his attention to Wes. “The truth is that I don’t know for sure that I can trust you and I am taking a considerable risk in telling you all of this. The two of you did take down Cipher last year, but they could have been seen as a rival organization to Team Rocket and Team Rocket seems to have benefited greatly by their downfall, taking a lot of the resources that Cipher left behind as their own. You, in particular, have an extensive criminal record that makes you a difficult man to trust.”

    “We’re not with Team Rocket.” Rui was on the verge of tears. “We could never align ourselves with a group like them.”

    “That may be the case for you, but I did work for a group like them.” Wes pointed out. “I was a member of Team Snagem for most of my life. I was raised to steal Pokémon and take whatever I want from others.”

    “Exactly.” Looker said. “So, what argument do you have that I can trust you?”

    “All you have is my word.” Wes answered sincerely. “I left Snagem because I’ve come to view my former life as a disgrace. I will never return to thievery and I will never associate with criminals like that again. I’ve seen the kind of corruption that infects people like Team Snagem or Team Rocket and I no longer want anything to do with it. If the word of an ex-thief can mean anything to you, then you know that I am not with them. Also, Rui here is too much of a goodie-two-shoes to even consider it.”

    “Hey!”

    “What? That was a compliment.”

    “Thank you.” Looker said solemnly. “I already knew that I could trust you, but it means a lot to hear you say it with such passion. That is why I have chosen to confide in you.”
    Daisy waited around in the hotel lobby, looking at a large tank full of Water-type Pokémon. She watched the Pokémon swim around for a while before Giselle finally walked out to meet her.

    “It’s about time.” Daisy said as she turned around to great her traveling companion. “What took you so long?”

    “Unlike some people, I try to maintain a certain level of…” Giselle searched for the word she felt would be most insulting, “hygiene.”

    “Whatever.” Daisy shrugged, suddenly realizing that she had forgotten to take a shower when she had the chance. “Let’s just get going already.”

    “My, someone’s impatient today.” Giselle said as the two girls started heading for the exit. “Or are you always like this.”

    “I’m not impatient, you’re just slow.” Daisy replied as she reached to open the front door.

    “Oh, that’s no reason to be mean.” Giselle said mockingly.

    “You’re the one who started it.”

    “Yeah, well…” Giselle tried to find a good comeback, but couldn’t think of anything. “It’s not like that really matters. It’s not like I’ve said anything that isn’t true.”

    “Are you looking for a fight?” Daisy asked more seriously than she meant.

    “Not with you.” Giselle laughed. “There’d be no point to it. I’d just wipe the floor with you.”

    “What world are you living in? I could beat you easily.” Daisy argued. “In fact, I have beaten you.”

    “You only got lucky that time. Next time we battle, that luck won’t last.”

    “Then why don’t we test out that theory of your right now.” Daisy said as the two girls reached the outskirts of the city.

    “No, it’s too early for a rematch.” Giselle paused and then added hesitantly. “Besides, I think we’d probably make a better team than rivals.”

    Daisy and Giselle continued their walk in silence, both unsure of what else to say.
    * * *​
    While Squirtle, Charmander and Bulbasaur were off training with each other in the forests outside of Celadon City, Zoroark chose to rest instead. She sat leaning back against a tree overlooking the city, reflecting back on her life so far. She had been born and raised in the Lostlorn Forest in Unova where her kind had once called home before the humans started settling the nearby areas. Over time more and more of her kind departed the area until their last chief, Zoroark’s father, finally declared that they should all leave to find a new home far away from the humans. Zoroark had fought her father on that decision, insisting that they could continue to hide away from humans or even that the humans did not pose as much of a threat against their way of light as everyone thought. She had been unable to change her father’s mind on the subject, and so they left. Zoroark’s son was still just a newborn at the time and would not have been able to make the trip, so she had stayed behind telling her father that she would follow them once her son was old enough. She had lied and she had paid the consequences for it.

    About a year after the others had left, a Pokémon Hunter had arrived in Lostlorn Forest, apparently having heard rumors of the rare Pokémon that lived there. Zoroark had been sure that the illusions placed upon the forest by generations of her people would be more than enough to prevent the hunter from finding her and her son, but they did not hinder her in the slightest. Zoroark had barely been able to avoid capture, but her son had not been so lucky and now Zoroark has spent the months since then trying to track them down so that she could get her son back. It had been tough, but she had finally been able to track down the hunter back on the S.S. Anne, only for her to escape.

    Zoroark looked up at the sky above. She was on the other side of the planet from her home. The trees and plants were different, the Pokémon were different and even the human settlement looked different to her somehow. All she could rely on for stability was the sky. It was the only thing here that could remind her of home, of what she had lost due to her own mistakes.

    Although she wasn’t alone now, she reminded herself. She had friends now. Allies who had agreed to help her in her quest to find her son again. They were a strange trio, but they seemed sincere about wanting to help her and they did help her to recover after the S.S. Anne incident.

    Zoroark raised her right paw in front of her face and used her Illusion ability to shift into her current human guise, Zahira Darhk, a younger form of her previous “Madame Darhk” disguise. She could not remember where she had come up with that name, but being able to pass herself off as being human had certainly come in handy.

    Zoroark was suddenly snapped out of her thoughts by the sound of a snapping twig behind her. She quickly stood up and turned around to face whoever was there.

    “Relax.” Said a familiar voice. “It’s just me.”

    Zoroak lowered her guard as Bulbasaur walked up to her.

    “I got tired of training, so I came back here to take a nap.” Bulbasaur explained. “I don’t know how those two hotheads have so much energy. You’d think they never get tired.”

    Zoroark couldn’t help but let out a small chuckle. “I was the same when I was their age. My brothers and I would get into all kinds of trouble when we were young.”

    “That’s hard to believe.”

    “And why is that?” Zoroark asked, a little offended.

    “I don’t know. Probably because I don’t really know you that well yet and from what I’ve seen of you so far you seem pretty reserved.”

    “Age can do that to a person.” Zoroark said. “And the responsibilities of parenthood, as well.”

    “I can certainly understand that.”

    “Do you have children?” Zoroark asked, surprised.

    “No. But I’ve been helped raise orphaned Pokémon for… pretty much my whole life.”

    “That must be a hard responsibility.”

    “I suppose so, but I’ve never really let it get to me. Those I’ve helped are more to me than just Pokémon that have lost their families. They’re my friends and I’d do anything to help them out.”

    “Like how you’re helping me?”

    “Yeah, I suppose so.”
    * * *​
    Ash stood in awe of the sight before him, mouth agape. On his right shoulder, Pika had the same reaction. Ash had seen the Indigo Plateau many times in pictures and on TV, but nothing could have prepared him for this moment.

    Before Ash stood two large stone archways above the gray tiled pathway that he was standing on. Each side of the path was lined with statues depicting the Pokémon of the Kanto and Johto regions. Beyond the twin arches stood the Pokémon League headquarters. The orange and gray building stood larger than Ash had ever imagined. While it may not have been nearly as tall as the skyscrapers of Saffron City, Ash still felt like he had never seen anything before that could match up to its sheer size.

    Ash watched absently as Misty, Brock and Sabrina all walked past him and towards the building as if it were nothing. Ash was then snapped back to his senses as he felt a hand rest on his left shoulder.

    “I remember my first time here.” Carmine said as Ash turned and looked up at him. “I made my way through Victory Road like any other trainer wishing to enter the League and just as I was about to reach the exit and make my way here, your father caught up to me and I challenged him to a battle. I lost, but we agreed to finish our journey here together, side by side. When we stepped out of the cave… I don’t think I can even describe the feelings I had at that moment.”

    Ash and Carmine continued to stand there looking up at the Pokémon League building with a sense of awe and nostalgia, respectively. It was only when they realized that the others had already entered the building that the two ran to catch up. They reached the doors leading inside and made their way into the foyer.

    “Wow.” Carmine said as they both looked around. “It’s almost exactly as I remember it. I think the only thing that’s changed here is the wallpaper. Unfortunately, the pink stripes aren’t any less tacky than the baby-blue diamond pattern was.”
    Ash sat in a chair in the Pokémon League lobby staring at the dark brown tiled floor. Misty and Brock had left to wait for their meeting while Carmine had run off saying that he had to use the bathroom, leaving Ash alone. The initial excitement of visiting the Pokémon League was starting to wear off and boredom was starting to fill in its place.

    “Hey, kid! It’s been awhile.”

    Ash suddenly leapt up to his feet, startled by the unexpected greeting.

    “Uh… hi, Surge.” Ash said hesitantly as he looked up at the large, intimidating man standing in front of him.

    “That’s Lieutenant Surge.” The Viridian City Gym Leader corrected him.

    “I’m sorry, Lt. Surge.” Ash apologized nervously. He could feel his legs shaking beneath him

    Lt. Surge started laughing heartily and slapped Ash on his empty shoulder. “I’m just messing with you. There’s no need to be that formal. So, how’s my old Pikachu doing, anyway? Have you managed to teach Volty how to use Volt Tackle yet?”

    “Uh…” Ash trailed off. “No. I kind of forgot that I was supposed to do that.”

    Ash reached down to Volty’s Pokéball resting on his belt and held it out. He pressed the button on its front and the red beam of energy shot out towards his shoulder, where Volty materialized and gave an energetic “Chu, Pi!”

    Lt. Surge laughed even harder. “That’s fine. To be honest, I never really expected you to. I thought she’d be happier with you then she was with me and it looks like I was right about that.”

    “Thank you.”

    Volty smiled and let out sparks from her cheeks as Lt. Surge patted her gently on the head.

    “You’ve done a fine job of taking care of her so far. She looks to be quite healthy and happy.”

    “Thank you.” Ash said again.

    “I’d like to stay and chat longer, but I should probably go see the other Gym Leaders. I don’t want to keep anyone waiting.”

    With that, Lt. Surge waved goodbye and headed towards the back where Misty and Brock had gone earlier, leaving Ash alone again with his Pokémon, but feeling a lot better about himself than he had before. Ash hadn’t even realized how much the events of the previous night had affected him until that moment.

    The two Pikachu on Ash’s shoulders jumped down onto the floor and started playing as Ash sat back in his chair. He briefly wondered how long the meeting was going to take, or at least how long it would take for all of the Gym Leaders to get there. “Then again,” he thought to himself, “not all of the Gym Leaders will be here, will they. After all, the main reason they’re even having this meeting in because of Giovanni.”
    * * *​
    “I expected this place to be more like a cave.” Sable commented as she, Red and Yellow entered the Underground Path to Celadon City. Bright lights hung from the steel walls, shining down onto the wooden floor which was brown, save for the two stripes painted along it, one blue and the other red.

    “So you’ve never been down here before?” Red asked her.

    “No.” Sable said. “I’ve never had the chance before. It would appear that I haven’t missed anything, though.”

    “Yeah, not really.” Red agreed. “The other Underground Path was a lot like this, too. That’s why we’re going to use Teleport so that we can get across quickly. Speaking of which it’s probably time to get Abraham out.”

    “Right.” Yellow said as she held out a Pokéball. The yellow Psi Pokémon suddenly appeared hovering in the air in front of her before she even pressed the button. “Come on.”

    It only took a few minutes before the group had made their way all the way to the other side and headed up the staircase leading to Route 7.

    “That probably would have taken us at least all day if we had walked the whole way.” Red said as they took their first steps back outside again.

    “Yeah.” Yellow agreed. “It’s a good thing we have Abraham to help us out.” She squeezed the sleeping Pokémon tightly, but Abraham didn’t seem to mind or notice.

    “You seem quite attached to that Abra.” Sable noticed.

    “Yeah, he’s a good friend and he helps us out a lot. He’s also the only Pokémon that I’ve ever caught, even if it was only by accident.”

    “Maybe there are no such things as accidents.”

    “What do you mean?” Red asked Sable, but she didn’t answer.

    “I like Maggie, too.” Yellow said. “But I didn’t catch her and she hasn’t been as fun since she evolved. She’s so big now that I haven’t even had a chance to let her out in a while.”

    “I’m sure you’ll get a chance to play with her again soon.” Red reassured her. “But in the meantime, we’ve almost reached the city.”

    Sure enough, they were just approaching the edge of Celadon City. Though it was hard to tell, as most of the buildings were painted a dark green color that blended in partially with the trees that surrounded the city on all sides. Some buildings on the other side of the city stood noticeably taller than the rest.

    “Celadon City. The city of rainbow dreams.” Sable said. Red and Yellow turned their attention to her and she pointed to the large sign she had just read aloud. “That’s what it says, anyway.”

    “Well, hopefully, it can help us reach our dreams.” Red spotted the familiar orange roof of a Pokémon Center amid all the green and set off towards it. “Come on, this way.”
    * * *​
    Hanami floated in the air above Ash, looking around at her surroundings. She had head people mention the Pokémon League over the years but had never imagined that she would even visit it herself. Much had changed in the centuries since she had lived and a building like the one she was in now couldn’t have even been dreamed of in her time. Things like electric lighting and air conditioning were completely new concepts to her and just the one room was larger than any of the buildings in her village had been. The other buildings they had been to were similar in a lot of regards, but she hadn’t really had much of a chance to admire them due to the dire circumstances.

    She looked down at Ash sitting beneath her. Hanami had only been following him for a couple days now and yet it already felt much longer. She wondered if his life was always this busy, it was certainly more exciting than her life had ever been, at any rate. Traveling around the region, meeting new people and facing new challenges as he went. She had never even left her home village before now. She felt for a moment that she would never get used to how different things were now than in her time, but that thought was interrupted.

    “…”

    Hanami turned around quickly. She thought for sure that she had heard someone speak, but there was no one there.

    “…”

    The sound came again, slightly louder. Like someone calling out from the distance. Hanami couldn’t tell what had been said, or who had said it, but there had definitely been a voice. A deep, rasping voice calling from far away. Hanami felt a shiver run through her, but it wasn’t cold and even if it was, a ghost wouldn’t be affected by it. Without thinking, she began to recite an ancient prayer she had not heard in many centuries.

    “Lords of Ice, Lighting and Fire,
    Sons of the Silver Flier,
    The beatings of thy wings spread winds of fate across the land,
    And the birds sing thy praises,
    A shadow of destruction falls upon us now which we cannot withstand,
    Unless we rely upon thy strength and darkness thy power razes.”

    She did not know if the Legendary Birds could truly hear her prayer or not, but she felt a warm feeling of peace pass over her as soon as the words left her intangible lips. There was something big on its way. Something that she was sure no one was prepared for. But she felt confident, at least for the moment, that they could make it through whatever was coming. She only hoped that it would not come without too great a cost.
    Carmine stepped out of the bathroom and stretched his arms up high while yawning. He hadn’t gotten much sleep lately, which was normal for him but combined with all of the action as of late was starting to wear him down. He decided that he would lie down and try his best to take a nap while the Gym Leaders had their meeting.

    “I really should get a Hypno one of these years.” Carmine muttered to himself. “I don’t know why I’ve been putting it off so long.”

    A loud beeping noise suddenly went off, startling him. He reached down into his pocket and pulled out his Pokégear, checking who was calling him.

    “Well, there goes my nap.” He sighed before answering the call. “I had a feeling I’d be getting this call. Though I thought it would take a bit longer.”

    “You sound almost amused.” Looker said from the other end of the call.

    “No, I’m just kind of tired. Anyway, I’m guessing this is about last night?”

    “You would be correct in that guess, but you already knew that. There are multiple eye-witness accounts of a giant, black Pokémon rampaging through the streets of Saffron City in the early hours of the morning. I think it is safe to assume that we both know what Pokémon that was.”

    “It sounds like your eye-witnesses need to get their eyes checked.” Carmine replied. “There was no rampaging going on.”

    Carmine’s comment was met with an uncomfortably long silence.

    “But yeah, it was the Cianwood Tyranitar. We had a bit of a skirmish with Team Rocket. I tried to keep the property damage to a minimum, but we did cause quite a bit of damage to the Silph Corp. building. And Tyranitar probably did some damage to the nearby streets, now that I think about it. He’s kind of heavy.”

    “I want a full report.” Looker said dryly. “Now.”

    “Fine, fine. I’ll tell you what I know.”
    * * *​
    Looker pondered everything he had just been told as he put his phone down. Giovanni was a Gym Leader? That was big news. And he had been beaten by a child? He could barely even process that part. This “Ash” that Carmine talked about must be some kind exceptional trainer to pull that off. Although now that he thought about it, Looker remembered that he had already met Ash, right after the incident at Mt. Moon not too long ago, and his name had been on the passenger list for the S.S. Anne. That boy had had more run-ins with Team Rocket since Looker entered the country than Looker himself at this point.

    “I should run a background check on him.” Looker said to himself. “To learn who that kid actually is. The knowledge could prove valuable.”

    There was a knock at the door to Looker’s office. He called for the person to come in and 009 opened the door.

    “You called for me, sir?” She asked calmly, as if nothing had happened.

    “Come in, take a seat.” Looker gestured towards one of the old, green chairs in front of his desk and waited for her to sit down in it. “What do you have to report?”

    “Nothing, sir.” 009 answered. She was a hard person to read, but Looker was starting to understand her better and it was becoming obvious that she was intentionally hiding something. “Everything’s quiet except for a small earthquake near Saffron City. I also heard something about a storm over on Route 2.”

    Looker stared at the girl for a moment. “Was there anything unusual about the earthquake?”

    “No, sir. It was just an earthquake. If I had to make a guess, I’d say it was caused by the Diglett and Dugtrio that inhabit Diglett’s Cave.”

    “And what makes you say that?”

    “Well, the storm at Route 2 would have happened just outside the cave’s northern entrance. It’s possible that the storm could have scared the Diglett and Dugtrio inside the cave and caused them to stampede through their tunnel networks, which in turn could lead to a potential increase in seismic activity in the area.”

    “Yes, that would make sense.” Looker said. It was a sound theory, but her delivery sounded almost rehearsed. She had been anticipating that question and had already come up with her reply. Looker was more sure than ever that she was a spy, but what he wasn’t sure of yet was whether to confront her about it now, or bide his time and wait later. He opted for the latter option.

    “Very well. I want you to investigate that storm. From what I’ve been hearing about it, it sounds like it may not have been a natural occurrence. If so, I want to know what caused it and why.”

    “Yes, sir.” 009 stood up and turned to leave. Looker watched the girl as she walked out of his office.

    “I wonder…” He muttered. “How long as she been with them? She’s not that old. She’s still only in her teens. How young was she when she joined?
    * * *​
    Pikachu ran along the rooftops of Saffron City. She would prefer to travel through the woods than the city, but she didn’t really have a choice right now. She knew that Yellow would already be on the other side of the city by now and she had to get back to her as quickly as possible. She didn’t trust the new woman that was traveling with Yellow. Something about her seemed… off. Pikachu was sure that the woman had somehow known she was there waiting in the treetops last night and that made her uneasy. She had also not been able to make contact with Abraham since the woman showed up, almost as if she was somehow interfering with their mental link somehow. The woman was dangerous, Pikachu knew that much. But was she actually hostile or not? Pikachu had no way of knowing the woman’s intentions or not. She could be a threat, but was that her intention?

    Pikachu decided to put away those thoughts for now. Her priority was to catch back up to them. There was nothing that she could do to protect Yellow unless she was there with her to do it. Then again, was there anything she could do even if she was there? Pikachu’s attacks had proven utterly useless again the one she wanted to protect Yellow from and the boy, Red, had so far proven capable of protecting her from everything else on his own. In fact, Pikachu wasn’t sure that she had actually managed to accomplish anything whatsoever since the destruction of their home other than just follow Yellow and she hadn’t been doing a very good job of that either. The only reason she had not already completely lost Yellow possibly for good was thanks to Abraham, and it looked as if she would not be able to rely on his help any longer.

    “Maybe it’s time.” Pikachu said to herself as she rested for a moment on the edge of a roof. “Time that I actually meet up with her in person. But then again, how will she react? She won’t remember who I am. She doesn’t even know that he is after her, or why.”

    Pikachu sighed and leapt over to the next building. It was no use wondering at this point. It was only a matter of time before she would have to make her presence known, so it might as well be sooner, rather than later. There was no telling what kind of complications it could cause, but then again not revealing herself could also cause problems down the line. She had finally made up her mind, she would reintroduce herself to Yellow as soon as she had the chance.

    “Hello.”

    The unexpected greeting caught Pikachu off guard, causing her to trip and fall off of the ledge she had been running along. She managed to grab hold of the ledge and keep herself from falling down to the ground below as she looked up at the serene smiling face staring at her.

    “You.” Pikachu said, startled. “But how? Why?”

    “I told the others that I wanted to look around on my own for a little bit before I meet up with them again later. Which is actually true, for the most part.” Said Sable, who was looking back down at Pikachu from the roof. Or at least that’s what Pikachu thought at first, but then she relieved that Sable wasn’t on the roof, she was floating in the air across from it.

    “How are you…?”

    “I’m here because I have some questions for you.” Sable interrupted. “And I’m sure you have quite a few questions of your own, so why don’t we help each other out?”

    Pikachu felt her strength fail her and she lost her grasp on the edge of the roof. She closed her eyes as she fell, not wanting to see the end. But then she opened them again when she realized that she wasn’t actually falling. She was floating in the air, like Sable.

    “What’s going on?”

    “I’ll take that as a yes.”
    “Well, it looks like we’re all finally here.” Lance stood at one end of a long table and looked around the conference room they were in. Every Gym Leader of the Kanto region, save for Giovanni, sat around looking back at him. “Which means we can get started with this meeting. Now, I know some of you already know what this is about, but for those who don’t, I’m afraid I must be the bearer of bad news. You see, it has recently been discovered that the leader of the criminal organization known as Team Rocket is in fact none other than Giovanni Rozzo, leader of the Viridian Gym.”

    The sound of murmuring reverberated throughout the room and the Gym Leaders quietly discussed this sudden revelation amongst themselves.

    “This news has come as a great shock to all of us and naturally we must react to it. Giovanni will be removed from his position of Gym Leader as soon as possible and a new Gym Leader will be appointed in his place. In addition, we will be changing the requirements for obtaining Gym Leader status by adding more comprehensive background checks in order to assure that something like this will never happen again. Does anyone here have objections to these policy changes or any comments they would like to add?”

    Lance looked around again for a moment, but no one spoke up. “Alright then. In that case, we will move on to the next item on our agenda. There are a number of situations that must be attended to, which the other members of the Elite Four and I have made assignments for. First off, a mysterious storm has caused the northern entrance to Diglett’s Cave to collapse on Route 2. Bruno, Flint and Brock are to go there and rebuild the cave’s entrance and investigate what happened there. Lt. Surge and I are to assist Sabrina in overseeing the reconstruction effort of Saffron City. Lorelei, Daisy, Lily, Violet and Misty are to investigate the wreckage of the S.S. Anne to see if there are any possible clues as to what Team Rocket might be planning. Everyone else should return to their regular Gym Leader duties. Now, if no one has anything else to add, then this meeting is now adjourned.
    * * *​
    “Stop the car!” Kat shouted as Mal drove past some sort of old, decrepit looking theater house along the side of Route 15.

    “Why?” Mal asked her as she slowed the car to a stop.

    “Trust me. Gary’s going to want to check this place out.”

    “What are you talking about?” Gary asked her, thinking that his cousin must have gone crazy.

    “You’ll see.” Kat smiled and tilted her head to the side mischievously as she opened the car door to get out.

    Gary looked up and the run-down building before him as he got out of his father’s car. The old theater was painted white and red, which looked like it had once been bright and vibrant but was now faded and peeling off of the rotting woodwork. A sign hung up above the front door, but it was too damaged for Gary to be able to read it.

    “What is this place?” Gary wondered aloud.

    “Why don’t you go in and find out?” Kat suggested as she climbed back into the car. “We’ll wait for you.”

    “Fine. But if I die in there, it’s your fault!” Gary sighed and turned back to the building. He walked up to the staircase leading up to the front doorway and lightly set foot on it. The stairs seemed sturdy enough, so he walked up and entered the theater house.

    The interior was dark and dusty as if the building had been had been abandoned long ago. Gary honestly had no idea what he was supposed to be looking for in there. Some kind of rare Ghost Pokémon, maybe? He pulled out a Pokéball and called out one of the newer additions to his Pokémon team.

    “Go, Growlithe.”

    The Fire-type Puppy Pokémon landed on the creaky old floor. He sniffed the air and let out a small howl before breathing out a small stream of flame to light up the dark theater.

    “Whatever’s in here had better be worth it.” Gary muttered to himself as he and his Growlithe made their way deeper into the run-down building.
    * * *​
    “Wait, you’re both leaving?” Ash asked Misty and Brock once they had returned and told Carmine and himself about the meeting.

    “Yeah.” Brock shrugged. “But we’ll meet back up with you once we’re done with our assignments.”

    “This is so unfair.” Ash complained. “Why do you both have to go?”

    “Because they both have obligations as Gym Leaders to help wherever they are needed.” Lance said as he walked up to the group before turning his attention to Ash. “So you must be this Ash everyone’s been talking about. I’ve heard that you’ve been shaping up to be quite the skilled trainer. I hope that you’ll stop by my Gym after this whole Team Rocket situation has been dealt with so that we can have a battle. I’m looking forward to it.”

    And with that, Lance turned around with a swish of his cape before giving Ash a chance to respond.

    “Wow.” Misty’s jaw hung slightly ajar and she and Brock both stared at Ash in amazement. “I’ve never seen Lance send anyone a challenge like that before. That’s amazing.”

    “You’ve certainly come a long way since I beat you in our first match.” Brock added.

    “It doesn’t mean much.” Carmine said. “It’s still just a Gym Battle. A test of strength to make sure that a Pokémon Trainer has reached a certain level of ability.”

    “Well, I’m still going to beat him.” Ash said defiantly. “No matter how strong he is.”

    “Were you even listening to me?” Carmine asked.

    “I should probably be going now.” Brock said. “I don’t want to keep the others waiting. See you again soon!”

    Brock shook Ash’s hand and headed off towards where his father and Bruno were waiting for him, waving goodbye. Ash, Carmine and Misty watched as they headed out the door before Misty and Ash turned to each other.

    “I should be heading out too. My sisters can get kind of impatient sometimes.” Misty turned to leave.

    “Hold on.” Ash said, grabbing her wrist to stop her. “Before you go, I wanted to give you something.”

    “What?” Misty couldn’t hide the surprise in her voice.

    “Volty.” The two Pikachu resting on Ash’s shoulders both turned to their trainer in surprise from this unexpected turn of events.

    “What do you mean?” Misty asked.

    “I want you to take Volty with you, at least until we meet up again. After all, you gave me Krabby the last time you left us.”

    “I suppose that is true.” Misty sighed. “I guess you’ve got a deal.”

    Ash pulled out Volty’s Pokéball and handed it too Misty. Pika and Volty quickly touched their noses together and let off a fly of sparks from their cheeks to say goodbye, almost lighting Ash’s hair on fire, before Volty hopped off of Ash’s shoulder and into Misty’s outstretched arms.

    “I promise to take good care of her.” Misty said as she turned to go. Pika and Volty both reached out to each other as a final parting as Misty walked away.

    “Well.” Carmine said awkwardly. “I can’t say that I expected any of that, and now I forgot what I was going to say. Oh, right, I was going to tell you that I think we should spend this time focusing on your training. Things are only going to get harder from here on out and who knows what other unexpected situations we’re going to face in your journey. You need to be ready for any challenges you may encounter.”

    “Sounds like a plan.” Ash agreed.

    “Good. But before that, we should probably get some rest. I don’t think either of us has gotten any sleep in a while.”

    The mere mention of sleep suddenly caused Ash to be overwhelmed by a sudden wave of fatigue. He had not realized before that point how tired he was, but now it was all he could think about.

    “Yeah.” Ash yawned. “We should do that.”

    “Come on. I’m sure there should be someplace to rest somewhere around here.”
    Red and Yellow walked into the Celadon City Pokémon Center and headed for the front desk. The nurse there asked if Red wanted his Pokémon healed, as per usual. After the nurse healed Red’s Pokémon and handed them back to him, they walked over to the lounge area. A couple couched sat around a glass table and off in the corner of the room was a PC meant for public use. The PC had a paper taped onto its screen saying that it was out of order and someone appeared to be tinkering with its inner wires and circuitry. Red felt like he had seen the man before.

    “Bill?” Red asked hesitantly.

    The man tried to stand up but accidentally hit the back of his head hard against the underside of the keyboard. He then made sure to back away from the computer and stood up slowly, clutching the back of his head, and turned around. Sure enough, it was the same man that they had helped out back at the lighthouse on Cerulean Cape.

    “Oh, hi!” Bill said once he recognized Red and Yellow. “Fancy seeing you around here.”

    “Hi!” Yellow said cheerfully.

    “What are you doing here?” Red asked.

    “This old PC here isn’t working right, so they’ve asked me to come in and take a look at it. For some reason, it won’t seem to connect to Pokémon Storage System, so trainers can’t use it to deposit or withdraw their Pokémon and who better to ask to fix that kind of problem than the guy who created the system in the first place?”

    “You created the Pokémon Storage System?” Red asked in astonishment.

    “Or at least the current system, sort of. I led the development team that created it, but most people tend to forget about the people I worked with. I’m also the administrator for the system her in Kanto and also in Johto.”

    “Why didn’t you mention that when we met before?”

    “I guess it just never came up.” Bill shrugged. “So how have you been, anyway?”

    “Fine.” Red answered. “We were just going to explore the city a bit before I take on the Gym.”

    “Well good luck with that. I think the local Gym specializes in Grass Pokémon.”

    “Well, that should be pretty easy to take on with my Charmeleon.” Red said, then sighed. “Although I suppose I should still work on catching more than just two Pokémon.”

    “Two?” Bill seemed confused. “I remember seeing your account in the storage system just recently and you had more than that.”

    “Only half of my team right now is actually mine.” Red explained. “Two of them are Yellow’s, but she can’t actually have Pokémon of her own yet.”

    Yellow grinned and held up her two Pokéballs. “These are Maggie and Abraham.”

    Bill thought for a moment. “You know, you could probably get a permit for her to have her own Pokémon.”

    “A what?” Red asked flatly.

    “A Trainer’s Permit. It’s kind of a new thing, so I wouldn’t be too surprised if you haven’t heard of them before, but it’s now possible for those under age to have Pokémon. They can’t battle and they don’t have access to the storage system, though. Normally you’d need the permission and supervision of a parent or guardian that has a license, but I might be able to pull some strings for you and see if she can get one.”

    “Really?” Red and Yellow both asked.

    “Yeah, sure. It’s the least I can do for when you helped me out before.”

    “Thank you.” Said Red.

    “I’m so excited!” Yellow jumped with joy.
    * * *​
    “Okay, I think that should be enough for now.” Squirtle said as he fell onto his back from exhaustion.

    Charmander sat down next to Squirtle with a groan. “Why do we have to train so hard?” He whined.

    “Because it is the only way to assure that we will be able to take on any challenge that comes our way and always come out on top. Although I think we’ve reached a point where we can continue our journey for at least another Gym or two.”

    “Thank Arceus.” Charmander laid back with his stubby arms underneath his head and his tail resting by his side. “I feel like I could just fall asleep right now and not wake up again for days.”

    “I feel similarly, but we do need to get back up in the morning to start making our way to the next town and with it the next Gym.”

    The two Pokémon stared up at the morning sky for a while in contemplative silence.

    “Do you think we’ll really be able to do it?” Charmander asked.

    “Of course we will.” Squirtle replied. “But only if we believe that we can.”

    “You always manage to be so confident and brave. Where does your courage come from?”

    Squirtle reflected for a bit before answering. “I’ve mentioned before that when I was young I had a trainer, a young girl by the name of Samantha. She had been dangerously sick for her entire life and yet never gave up hope no matter how bad things got. In order to honor her legacy I’ve vowed to always do the same.”

    “Wow.” Was all Charmander could think to say to that.

    “Also, we both watched a lot of anime and I always looked up to the heroes that never gave up even in the face of danger. We’d dress up as the characters a lot and play out our favorite scenes together. That’s actually where my sunglasses came from. They are a replica of the pair worn by our favorite character.”

    “Do you ever miss her?”

    “Always.”
    * * *​
    Pikachu sat on the roof of the Celadon City Pokémon Center, staring at her paws and contemplating everything that she had just learned. It was a lot to take in and yet somehow she knew, almost instinctively, that it was all true. She became filled with renewed doubts. She wanted to reach out to Yellow and make her presence known but she was sure that this was not the time to do so.

    She mentally slapped herself for thinking that. She should reach out to Yellow and join her properly but she just couldn’t bring herself to do it. She was scared. Scared that the girl now calling herself Yellow would not be the same as when they had grown up together. The girl still had no idea of who she was, or what she was, and with what Pikachu had just learned she was no more uncertain than ever.

    “Why is this so hard?” Pikachu complained to herself. “She’s basically right there beneath me and yet I just can’t do it. What’s wrong with me?”

    “I think only you could answer that question.”

    “Go away. I want to be by myself. Besides, shouldn’t you go back to the others before they get suspicious from your absence?”

    “Why would they be suspicious? They just think that I’m looking around a city I’ve never been to before. But I suppose if you want to be alone then I won’t bother you anymore.”

    Pikachu sighed and turned around just in time to see a bright pink flash of light and the one she had been talking to was gone. She heard the sound of the Pokémon Center doors opening and she knew that “Sable” was about to rejoin Red and Yellow.

    “Why did he have to mess things up?” Pikachu asked herself. “We had all been so happy before he had to tear us all apart. They had a good life, all things considered, but then he had to go and blow everything up. Literally. Their home was gone. Their friends were gone. As far as Pikachu knew, she and Yellow had been the only ones to survive his rampage. And now all she could do was do her best to make sure that he never found them again, even though she knew that she wouldn’t be able to stop him if he did. He was too strong, more powerful than anyone else she knew. Although, that might not be the case anymore. It was possible that she did now someone who was at least close to matching his level now. Maybe she would be able to do a better job of protecting Yellow than Pikachu could. But then again, would she even try to? “I wish that something would happen. Something that would let us be able to stop him.”
    After walking all morning, Daisy and Giselle found themselves entering a small town.

    “What is this place?” Giselle wondered aloud.

    “Well, according to my map this should be… Mossgreen Village.” Daisy said as she held out her Town Map while trying to keep Cleffa held up with one of her arms.

    “Never heard of it.” Giselle placed her hands behind her head as they continued walking.

    “Well, this doesn’t look like a particularly important place.” Daisy stuffed her map back in her bag. “Let’s just keep going.”

    “Hold up.” Giselle suddenly stopped and held her arm out in Daisy’s way. “Do you see what I see?” She pointed to a large building at the other side of the village.

    “What?” Daisy asked before taking a look at the building Giselle was pointing towards. Wait, is that a Gym?”

    “It sure is. Come on, let’s go.” Giselle suddenly started running towards the Gym, forcing Daisy to have to try and keep up with her.

    “Slow down! Running like this will be bad for Cleffa!” Contrary to Daisy’s claims, Cleffa was squealing gleefully, clearly enjoying itself a lot.

    “Come on, already!” Giselle yelled back to her. “You’ll never get anywhere if you keep going at that pace!”
    * * *​
    Giovanni walked into a dark room and moved his hand against the wall, looking for the light switch. When he found it, he flipped the switch and the lights came on, illuminating the room. White sheets covered all of the furniture and contrasted heavily with the black walls, carpet and ceiling. He walked over to the center of the room and pulled the sheet off of a desk chair, and then another off of the desk in front of it. He sat down at the chair and looked around at his old office. It had been a long time since he had made us of it, but he had no choice now that he had lost Saffron City.

    The lights flickered, irritating Giovanni. He would have to get the bulbs replaced, not that it was much of a surprise. They would need to make a lot of renovations to get this old base back into working order. If only he hadn’t lost that battle.

    “How did I lose?” Giovanni whispered to himself. “He was just a child who hasn’t even been a Pokémon Trainer for more than a few months at most. I should have been able beat him easily. I know I wasn’t exactly using my best team, but still…”

    “You wanted to see us, Sir?” Asked James, as he Jessie and Meowth stood at the entrance into Giovanni’s office.

    “Yes.” Giovanni motioned for them to come in. “I have your next assignment. I want the three of you to meet up with the Iron-Masked Marauder and investigate a cave north of Cerulean City. It is known as the Cerulean Cave, though the locals sometimes refer to it as the Unknown Dungeon. I’ve already briefed the Marauder and he will be able to fill you in on the details of the mission. Now go!”

    “But what about the others?” Jessie asked.

    “Agent Masque, Butch and Cassidy are running surveillance around the base in order to check for possible security breaches. Attila and Hun haven’t reported in since we relocated here this morning. If they don’t show up soon then they will be considered AWOL and will be punished accordingly when we finally find them Now, I believe I told you three to go.”

    The trio exited Giovanni’s office and stopped at the other end of the hallway.

    “What kind of punishment do you think Giovanni has in mind for them?” Jessie asked.

    “Isn’t it obvious?” Meowth asked. “The sames as whats happensed ta da others. Make ‘em dark or whatever it is thats they dids ta dem.”

    All three shuddered at the thought of it.

    “Something about them just doesn’t feel right anymore.” James said. “It’s almost like they aren’t even human anymore.”

    “I know what you mean.” Jessie agreed. “Which means we should focus on our new assignment so that he doesn’t have any reason to do it to us.”

    “Whys do yas think we’s going ta some old cave?” Meowth asked.

    “I don’t know, but we’re going to find out soon enough.”
    * * *​
    Professor Oak sat at the desk in his study sorting through old research papers when the phone started ringing. He put down the paper on sleeping disorders in Snorlax that had been written by an old colleague of his known as Professor Xalrons and answered the phone.

    “Hello?”

    “Is this Professor Oak of Pallet Town?” Oak didn’t recognize the man’s voice.

    “Yes, now who’s calling?”

    “My name is Looker. I was wondering if I could set an appointment to meet with you.” Oak felt like he had heard that name before, but couldn’t think of where it was from.

    “What about?” The Professor asked.

    “I wish to discuss one of your former students. A boy by the name of Ash Ketchum.”

    “Why?” Professor Oak’s voice carried his concern. “Has he done anything wrong?”

    “No, he has not done anything wrong. In fact, it is quite the opposite. If we could set up a meeting, I will explain what’s going on.”

    “Hold on a moment…” Professor Oak said. “I think I know where I’ve heard you’re name before. You’re an agent for the International Police, aren’t you?”

    “Yes, I am.” Looker answered. “And I have a lot I wish to discuss with you in regards to my current investigation. I will fill you in on the details when we meet.”

    Professor Oak sighed and checked the calendar he had sitting on his desk. “It looks like I’m free tomorrow. Stop by anytime you want.”

    “Thank you, Professor. I’ll see you tomorrow.”

    Professor Oak heard the phone hang up and placed it back down again. He turned his chair around and stared out the window at the clear blue sky.

    “What have you gotten yourself into, Ash?” He wondered aloud.

    A glimpse of silver reflecting the sun’s light caught the Professor’s attention and he immediately stood up and headed for the door. He ran outside.

    “Get out of here!” He yelled as he ran up to a large silver and gray Pokémon. “Go on, get going!”

    “Aggron!” The towering Steel-type bellowed as it turned around and rushed back to the way it had come.

    “I swear.” Professor Oak muttered to himself as he watched the Aggron flee. “That thing just keeps showing up and trying to break into my breeding grounds. Where did it even come from, anyway? Aggron don’t even live anywhere near here.”
    * * *​
    Giselle reached the front door of the Gym and waited for Daisy to catch up to her. Once Daisy was there, Giselle reached for the door and tried to open it, only to find that it was locked.

    “Hey, what gives?” Giselle yelled as she tried to force the door open.

    “I guess they’re not open right now. I guess you can’t really expect the Gyms to be open all of the time.”

    “Well, they should be! Trainers could show up at any time, you know. Like right now.”

    “Hold on, hold on!” Came a woman’s voice from off in the distance. Daisy and Giselle both looked over to see a young woman with dark green hair running up to them. When she reached the Gym, she stopped to catch her breath, panting heavily as she clutched her knees. “Sorry about that.” She said at last as she reached into her pocket and fumbled around for something. She pulled out a small white keycard and held it up to the door.

    The door unlocked with a small beeping noise and the woman opened the door, walking inside and motioning for the girls to follow her. Together they walked into the Gym’s interior which looked like the Gym had not been properly maintained in a long time. Moss and weeds were growing around everywhere.

    “I’m so sorry about that.” The woman said as she turned to face Daisy and Giselle. “I was at a meeting. Anyway, my name is Cassandra and I’m the Gym Leader here. I’m guessing one of you wants to challenge me?”

    “Both of us, actually.” Daisy said.

    “Okay then. So who wants to go first?”

    “Me!” Giselle reached her hand high into the air reflexively. “I’ll go!”
    “Well, this whole trip has been a waste of my time.” Gary said bitterly as he and his Growlithe continued wandering around the abandoned theater. “Seriously, why did Kat said me in here?”

    Gary turned around and began walking back towards the entrance. A loud screeching sound suddenly filled the entire theater, followed by what sounded like old circus music.

    “What’s going on?” Gary wondered aloud as he jumped up from fright.

    He stood there nervously, looking around to see if he could see the source of the music and noticed that there were speakers set up all around. There were wires sticking out of the speakers that trailed along the ceiling. Gary motioned for Growlithe to follow him as he started following the cords. They lead him to the main stage of the theater, where a single spotlight shone down on an old gramophone playing into a microphone.

    “What in the-” Gary started to say, but was interrupted as the music came to a sudden halt and the spotlight went out for a second.

    When the spotlight lit up again, the gramophone was gone. In its place stood Kat, holding the microphone and looking up at Gary.

    “Welcome, welcome, to the House of Amity! I see we have a guest today. Here to challenge your skills, are you?”

    Gary stared at Kat in confusion and shock. “Kat? What are you doing down there? Is this some kind of game to you?”

    Kat continued staring up at Gary, a sly smile on her face. The spotlight went out again and when it came back on, Gary couldn’t believe his eyes.

    “Kat? What kind of idiot are you? The name’s Gary. Gary Oak. And one day I’ll be the Pokémon Master.”

    Gary stared down at his doppelganger, no longer sure what to make of anything.

    “What?”
    * * *​
    “So who’s up first?” Cassandra asked Daisy and Giselle once they were all inside of the Gym

    “I’ll go ahead and let you go first.” Giselle said to Daisy. “And when you lose, I’ll already have an idea of what her strategy is like when it’s my turn.”

    “Gee, thanks for the vote in confidence.” Daisy rolled her eyes before walking up to Cassandra. “I have four Gym Badges already.”

    “Okay then. This will be a three-on-three battle. We’ll get started as soon as you’re ready.”

    Daisy turned back to Giselle and smiled mockingly. “When I’m done with this battle, I don’t think there’ll be any point in you even trying.” She couldn’t quite read the expression on Giselle’s face. “Anyway, let’s do this.”

    Daisy called out her Vulpix, while Cassandra opened with a Butterfree.

    “I hope you’ll actually listen to me this time.” Daisy muttered before giving her Pokémon a command. “Fire Spin!”

    The Fox Pokémon spat out a cyclone of fire that blasted Butterfree, engulfing the Bug-type in a spinning vortex of flames. Butterfree remained unable to move until the flames died down and it had already been knocked unconscious from the blow.

    “Wow.” Cassandra said in stunned amazement. “Um, go Beedrill.”

    She sent out her next Pokémon. The Poison Bee Pokémon charged at Vulpix with a Poison Jab, but Vulpix side-hopped out of the way causing Beedrill to crash stinger-first into the ground. Vulpix’s six tails stood on end and glowed with an ominous purple aura as she used Will-O-Wisp on Beedrill. Beedrill managed to dislodge its stinger from the ground and tried to fly up into the air, but its wings suddenly caught fire and it was send hurtling back down to the ground again. Vulpix launched another Fire Spin and when the flames dissipated, Beedrill couldn’t get back up again.

    “Return, Beedrill.” Cassandra said unenthusiastically. “Let’s go, Parasect.”

    The Mushroom Pokémon barely had time to land on the ground before Vulpix hit it with a Fire Spin and, like the two Bug-types before it, was knocked out by the blow.

    “I’m not really sure what to say to that.” Cassandra said as she recalled her Parasect. “You just flat-out wiped the floor with me. I guess you can just take this Mushroom Badge now.”

    Cassandra walked over to Daisy and handed her the badge. Daisy took it happily and turned back to Giselle.

    “So, what did you think?”

    Daisy thought she saw Giselle’s eye twitch as she stared at Daisy with an expression that Daisy couldn’t even begin to identify.

    “So you beat a few Bug-types with an overpowered Fire-type.” Giselle said as her expression returned to normal. “Big deal. My fight will be similarly short, so there’s no point in you even sticking around to watch. Why don’t you just head over to the Pokémon Center and heal up.”

    “But my Pokémon don’t need healing.” Daisy pointed out.

    “Just go.” Giselle growled angrily.

    “Fine, fine.”

    Daisy made her way to the door. As she made her way out she heard Cassandra ask Giselle how many badges she had and thought she heard Giselle reply with a week ‘Only one.’
    * * *​
    Red and Yellow made their way over to the Celadon City Gym. As they approached the building, they noticed that there was an old man standing by the doorway, looking in through a window.

    “This Gym is great.” The old man said to himself as they approached. “It’s full of girls.”

    Red made sure that Yellow was standing on the opposite side of him that the old man and placed his arm around her securely, eyeing the old man with a look of disgust. Yellow felt surprised to feel his arm around her and felt her cheeks start to get warm, but she didn’t know why. As they walked up to the door, it opened automatically and they were met by the pungent aromas of a multitude of various flowers and plants. They made their way into the Gym until a young woman walked up to them.

    “Are you here to challenge the Gym?” She asked.

    “Yes.” Red replied.

    “Well I am afraid the Lady Erika left for some urgent business early this morning and has not yet returned.”

    “Do you have any idea when she’ll get back?”

    “I’m afraid not. You’ll just have to check back later.”

    Mildly disgruntled, Red turned around and left, Yellow still at his side. They walked along the long narrow pathway edged by rows of trees that lead to the Gym without another word until they walked out into the city.

    “Well now what?” Red asked.

    “You can let go of me now.” Yellow suggested.

    “Oh, right.” Red quickly put his arm back to his side. “There was something odd about that old guy so I wanted to make sure that you were alright. Anyway, do have any ideas of what we should do while we wait? It looks like there’s some kind of big mall over on the other side of town.” He pointed to a tall blue building with yellow and red banners hanging down from it that were advertising some kind of big sale.

    “I wanna check out that place.” Yellow gestured towards a bright purple building just a few blocks away covered in bright flashing lights.

    “The Rocket Corner?” Red asked, reading the large neon sign on the roof.

    “Yeah! It looks exciting!”

    “I think that’s a casino.” Red said in amazement. “But I thought gambling was illegal. And even if it is then there’s no way they’d actually let us in. We’re minors, after all.”

    “We’re what?”

    “Minors. It means we’re not adults yet and we aren’t allowed to do… things that kids shouldn’t do.”

    “But I thought you were an adult.”

    Red pondered that for a moment and then it occurred to him that he was, actually, legally an adult now that he had a Trainer’s License. It was an idea that would take him a long time to get used to.

    “Even so, “Red said. “We still shouldn’t go there. There’s a nice looking restaurant over in the other direction. Let’s go there and have breakfast. We haven’t eaten yet today and I don’t think we’ve really had a proper meal since the S.S. Anne.”

    Yellow was disappointed, but suddenly realized just how hungry she was. “Yes. Food. Let’s do that.”

    “Can I join?”

    Red and yellow both jumped, neither of them having noticed Sable walk up to them.

    “How long have you been standing there?” Red asked in alarm.

    “Not long. I just walked around the city for a while and then saw you two over here.”

    “Come on.” Yellow said impatiently. “Let’s go eat already.”
    Gary stared at his doppelganger standing in the middle of the stage below him.

    “What? Who? What’s going on?” He stuttered out, utterly confused.

    The second Gary smiled back up at him and the spotlight went out again. When the light came back on, the Gary imposter had been replaced with a woman that Gary had never seen before with bushy teal hair tied in twin-tails and wearing an orange tee-shirt with a yellow star on it and jeans.

    “My name is Duplica.” The woman spoke into the microphone. “Though most people call me ‘The Copycat’. I’m the Gym Leader here.”

    “This isn’t a Gym?” Gary pointed out, still confused.

    “Well, not exactly, anyway. The actual Gym is still under construction but I’ve already been appointed as its Gym Leader, so I’ve been using my family’s old theater house to fill in for it.”

    “But, what was Kat doing down there with you? And that person that looked like me?”

    The light went off and back on showing that Duplica had been replaced by the face Gary.

    “Why do you think they call me The Copycat? Impersonating other people is my specialty.” The fake Gary pulled off his wig to show that ‘he’ was really Duplica in disguise. “I thought you would have figured that out on your own. Maybe you’re not as smart as you think you are?”

    “Shut up!” Gary yelled down to her.

    “Hm. Must have struck a nerve there.” Duplica muttered to herself. “Anyway, are we going to battle or not? I just got back from an important meeting and I’d like to get this over with so I can relax for a while.”

    “You’re on!”

    “Good.” Duplica said is Gary’s voice and then switched back to her own. “You should already have six badges if I’m not mistaken, which means that this will be a six-on-six battle. So give it all you’ve got and take on Kanto’s Normal-type specialist.”

    “This will be a piece of cake.”
    * * *​
    Red, Yellow and Sable walked into the restaurant, the “Celadon Grill” according to its sign, and were immediately greeted by the intoxicating smells of bacon and eggs. Evidently, they had just walked in during the breakfast rush as the old-timey diner was filled with people. There happened to be three empty red-leather stools available next to a man who seemed to have fallen asleep in the middle of his meal at the far end of the marble counter spanning one side of the diner, so the trio made their way across the black and white checkered floor trying to avoid bumping into anybody on the way. They sat down on the empty stools and a waitress walked up to them from the other side of the counter.

    “What can I get for ya?” She asked. When she didn’t get an answer she just said. “Should I just make that three of the house special?”

    “Sure.” Red said hesitantly.

    “Okay, that ‘ill be comin’ right up.”

    The waitress left, leaving Red, Yellow and Sable sitting alone in the crowded restaurant.

    “It sure is noisy in here.” Yellow commented. She had to speak up to make sure that the others could hear her.

    “Yes, it is.” Red agreed.

    “I kind of like it.” Said Sable. “It’s different than what I’m used to.”

    “Yeah, Lavender did seem like a pretty quiet place.” Red said.

    “Apart from the ghosts.” Yellow added.

    “Yes. Lavender Town.”

    The sleeping man next to them suddenly stirred and sat up, staring blankly at the half-empty plate in front of him.

    “Ugh.” The man grunted. “That’s it for me. I’ve lost too much already. I’m quitting now before I’ve got nothing left back the spin of my back.”

    The man grabbed some sort of small red box out of his pocket and set in on the counter.

    “What’s that?” Yellow asked inquisitively.

    “It’s yours now.” The man replied. “Take it, I don’t want it anymore.”

    And with that, the man stood up and waddled away, clearly still not fully awake yet.

    “Hey!” The waitress yelled out to him as she walked up to Red, Yellow and Sable with three plates full of food. “You haven’t paid your bill yet!” She set the plates down in front of them and ran after the man. “Come back here!”

    “Well, that was odd.” Red commented.

    Yellow grabbed the box that the man had given to her and undid the golden latch on it to open it up. Inside were rows of strange golden coins, different than the ones normally used as currency. “What are these?” She said, holding one up and admiring the stylized ‘R’ on one side.

    “Put that away.” Red told her. “I think those are casino tokens. Probably from that one you were looking at earlier.”

    “Does that mean that we can go there now?”

    “No.”

    Red picked up his fork as Yellow put the coin back in the case. He was about to take his first bite when Sable happened to catch a glimmer of light out of the corner of her eye.

    “What’s that?” She asked Red.

    “What’s what?”

    “That thing on your wrist.”

    “This thing?” Red held up his right hand to show off the bracelet with the marble-like stone embedded in it that Mr. Fuji had given him. “We’re not exactly sure yet. Why?”

    “No reason.” Sable turned to her food. “I was just curious.”
    * * *​
    “Raticate, use Super Fang!” Gary called out to his Pokémon.

    The large Mouse Pokémon charged forward and bit its opponent, another Raticate, on the neck. Duplica’s Raticate let out a screech of pain and twisted around to get Gary’s Raticate with its own Super Fang. The two Pokémon released each other and backed off slightly, circling around one another. Duplica’s Raticate prepared to use Tackle, but Gary’s interrupted the move with a Quick Attack, knocking Duplica’s Raticate onto its back. Gary’s Raticate then bit Duplica’s with Hyper Fang, and Duplica’s Raticate fell unconscious.

    “Well so much for the mirror match, I guess it’s time for a game of cat and mouse!” Duplica said as she called back her Raticate and sent out her second Pokémon, Persian.

    The red gemstone on the Classy Cat Pokémon’s forehead glowed brightly and four purple rock-like energy constructs emerged from it, floating gently in the air above it before being launched straight at Raticate and knocking the Mouse Pokémon out cold. Gary scowled as he recalled his Pokémon and sent out his Nidorina. The blue Poison Pin Pokémon leapt out of her Pokéball and hopped off of the wooden stage floor they were battling on, turning around in mid-air and smacking Persian with a Double Kick. Persian was knocked back by the attack but quickly found its balance and retaliated by lunging towards Nidorina with its claws outstretched and using Slash. The attack struck Nidorina across the face, but she didn’t let it get to her and countered by pelting Persian’s underbelly with a round of Fury Swipes before it had landed back on the ground. Furious, Persian whipped around and smacked Nidorina with its tail and then hitting her with another Slash. Nidorina jumped back and then lunged at Persian to hit it with another Double Kick, knocking out the feline Pokémon.

    “You’re certainly doing better than I expected you to.” Duplica commented as she sent out her third Pokémon. “But then again, this battle isn’t even half over yet. You’ve still got a ways to go.”

    A Chansey emerged from the Pokéball and landed on the floor with a loud thump. The round pink Pokémon launched an Egg Bomb at Nidorina, who was barely able to jump out of the way of the attack. Nidorina then ran up to Chansey and used Bite on Chansey. The Egg Pokémon merely shrugged off the attack and hit Nidorina across the face with a Double Slap. Nidorina backed away from her opponent and launched a small purple dart from her mouth with Poison Sting. The Poison Sting hit Chansey just above its left arm and infected Chansey with poison. Chansey then used Heal Pulse to recover all of the health it had lost so fat.

    “Don’t think that beating my Chansey will be so easy.” Duplica taunted Gary. “She’s an extremely resilient Pokémon and is capable of healing anything that you manage to do to her. The only way you’d be able to beat Chansey would be to knock her out in one hit.”

    “Then I’ll just have to find a way to do that.” Gary replied.
    “Use Toxic!”

    Nidorina spat out a glob of poison at Chansey on Gary’s order. The poison hit Chansey, who used Defense Curl to strengthen its defense. Nidorina then launched a spray of Toxic Spikes around the battlefield as Chansey got ready to hit Nidorina with a Take Down. Nidorina was able to jump out of the way of the attack and then sent out another wave of Toxic Spikes. Chansey used Heal Pulse to recover her health again as Nidorina growled at Chansey, causing Chansey to lower its attack.

    The battle continued with Nidorina dodging as many of Chansey’s moves as she could while using Growl to lower its attack more and more. Chansey would heal its injuries with Heal Pulse whenever its health started to get low, but it seemed to get more and more fatigued as time went on. Eventually, after using Heal Pulse for one last time, Chansey simply lost consciousness and fell over.

    “What?” Duplica wondered aloud. “What just happened?”

    “I used Toxic on your Chansey earlier and unlike other moves which inflict poison on the enemy, Toxic’s effects double every time it takes effect. So it was only a matter of time before it reached the point where it would completely take away all of your Chansey’s health at once, rendering your little healing trick completely ineffective.”

    “I can’t believe that I overlooked that.” Duplica said as she called back her Chansey into its Pokéball. “Good use of strategy, but I’m afraid that it won’t do you any good now that I know to avoid that attack. Go, Kangaskhan!”

    The large brown Pokémon came out of its Pokéball with a roar as it leaped into battle and then let out another roar as it landed on the double-layer of Toxic Spikes that Nidorina had scattered around earlier.

    “And of course there’s more than one way to badly poison a Pokémon. For example, the move Toxic Spikes normally poisons any of the opponent’s Pokémon that enter the battle after the move is used. If you use it twice, however, it badly poisons them instead. Every time you send out one of their Pokémon, it’s only a matter of time before they faint. I’ve effectively already one.”

    “There’s one little hole in that plan of yours.” Duplica said.

    “And what’s that?”

    “All I have to do is beat all of your Pokémon before that happens. Kangaskhan! Use Mega Punch!”

    The Parent Pokémon charged up to Nidorina and decked her across the face, sending her flying back into a wall and knocking her unconscious in the process.

    “I guess I didn’t really think of that. Of course, it’s not like you actually have of beating me or anything, but I’ll let you pretend that you might actually win. Come on out, Nidorino! Use Horn Attack, followed by a Double Kick!”

    The purple Poison Pin Pokémon practically flew out of its Pokéball and crashed straight into Kangaskhan head-first, knocking the larger Pokémon onto its back and then hitting it in the chest with his hind legs. Kangaskhan tried to retaliate with a Dizzy Punch, but Nidorino rammed Kangaskhan’s lower jaw with another Horn Attack. Kangaskhan let out a roar and passed out.

    “Maybe you might win this one after all.” Duplica admitted as she recalled her Kangaskhan. “Then again, maybe not. Go, Tauros!”

    The Wild Bull Pokémon emerged from its Pokéballs and landed on the Toxic Spikes. It winced slightly as it became badly poisoned, but was able to get itself riled up by whipping itself with its three tails. Tauros then lowered its head. The three silver orbs on its head began to glow purple as it charged forward to hit Nidorino with a Zen Headbutt.

    Nidorino braced itself for the impact and took the attack head-on. The force of the blow knocked Nidorino back several inches along the floor. As Tauros backed away, Nidorino charged forward with a Horn Attack and struck Tauros in the leg. The attack forced Tauros to collapse onto the ground, making an opening for Nidorino to turn around and strike Tauros with a Double Kick to the face, knocking the Wild Bull Pokémon onto its side. Tauros quickly got back onto its legs and stood up, only to collapse again as the poison drained away the last of its health.

    “It looks like it’s time for my last Pokémon.” Duplica said. “Come on out, Ditto!”

    Duplica threw her last Pokéball and a small pink blob popped out of it. The blob twisted and contorted until it took the form of Gary’s Nidorino before it landed on the floor below.

    “What?” Gary said, unsure as to what just happened.

    “Ditto’s a special Pokémon.” Duplica explained. “It has the unique ability to take the form of any other Pokémon it sees. Normally it would take a moment for the Ditto to transform, leaving it vulnerable to attack when it first comes out. But my Ditto here has the rare Imposter ability that allows it to transform into something the moment it sees it. In this case, my Ditto was able to take the form of your Poison-type Nidorino, leaving it completely immune to the Toxic Spikes scattered around the field, as well as any other possible attempts to poison it. What do you have to say to that?”

    “I say that an imposter can never be as good as the real deal.” Said Gary. “Nidorino, use Horn Attack!”

    “Ditto, use Horn Attack!” Duplica yelled, imitating Gary’s voice.

    The two Pokémon charged forward and rammed into each other. Nidorino and Ditto staggered a bit from the collision, and after a moment, Nidorino collapsed.

    “What? How?” Gary yelled.

    “You forgot that your Nidorino was already pretty hurt from my Tauros’ Zen Headbutt, while my Ditto was still perfectly fine. Although I did expect that Nidorino to at least take another hit or two before going down.”

    Gary gritted his teeth as he recalled Nidorino and sent out his next Pokémon. “Rapid Spin!”

    Wartortle came out of the Pokéball and retracted into its shell, spinning around quickly as it hit the ground, sending the Toxic Spikes flying at Nidorino.

    “I might not be able to poison you, but I’m sure you’ll still take some damage from the spikes. And there’s no way you’ll be able to hit him when he’s moving around so quickly.”

    Wartortle continued spinning as he made his way around, sending as many spikes as he could at Ditto. Ditto winced as hundreds of the tiny darts hit it, but was able to open its mouth long enough to fire a Poison Sting and managed to hit Wartortle, knocking him off of his intended projector and flipping him onto his back. Wartortle stuck his head out of his shell and used Water Pulse. Three rings of watery energy shot out of Wartortle’s mouth and hit Ditto. At first, it didn’t seem to do much, but when Ditto then tried to use Horn Attack, it charged off in the wrong direction and tripped, falling over onto its side.

    “Wartortle, use Aqua Tail!”

    Wartortle flipped over onto his feet and ran up to Ditto, his tail glowing blue. As he was about to reach Ditto, who was trying to stand back up, Wartortle turned around and slapped Ditto with his glowing tail. The attack knocked Ditto back and off the side of the stage. After a moment, Ditto was able to climb back up onto the stage and looked like it was going to attack again but instead melted back into its original gooey form.

    “It looks like you won.” Duplica said. “That was a good battle. Here’s a Core Badge in honor of your victory.”

    Duplica held out a badge that resembled a green circle surrounded by four green circles. Gary walked up to her and she dropped the badge into his outstretched hand.

    “This means you should only have one more to go before you can enter the Pokémon League, right?”

    “Yes.” Gary said as he put the badge away in his badge case. “But then again, why settle for only eight? I should have plenty of time to get more than that before the League starts up this year.”

    “Really?” Duplica was surprised by his remark. “Most trainers don’t try to get more than the eight that they need. At least not before challenging the League, anyway. Once you’ve got eight badges, Gym Leaders no longer have to hold back at all. We don’t to limit ourselves to the normal restrictions we’re bound by when forming our teams and strategies.”

    “That just sounds like more reasons to do it, then.” Gary said.
     
    #10 Jan 19, 2018
    Last edited: Feb 19, 2018
  11. BZRich64

    BZRich64 The Mustachioed Machamp

    Pulgasari
    (Aron)
    Level 31
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    Jun 12, 2017
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    Red stepped out of the Celadon Grill and stretched. “Do you think the Gym Leader will be back by now?” He asked Yellow.

    “How should I know?” Yellow asked back.

    “I was just wondering aloud.”

    “I’m sure she’s back at her Gym waiting to be challenged right now.” Sable said.

    “How do you know that the Gym Leader is a woman?” Red asked her as the trio headed out back towards the Celadon Gym.

    Sable paused for a moment, looking contemplative before answering, “I was just making a guess.”

    They walked along the tree-lined path until they reached their destination. The old man was no longer standing outside the Gym and judging from the marks on the ground where he had been, Red guessed that he had been escorted away by force. Red walked through the front door and into the Gym, which remained unchanged from when he and Yellow had entered just earlier that morning.

    “Welcome back.” Said the same woman that had greeted them earlier. “Lady Erika has returned from her meeting and is awaiting your challenge.”

    “It looks like you were right.” Red said, turning to Sable.

    “Yes, well, we’re all right sometimes.”

    Red turned and headed further into the Gym, determined to win another badge. One more and he would be halfway to reaching the Pokémon League. It felt like nothing would get in his way. He didn’t even notice that Yellow was no longer with him.
    * * *​
    Yellow stood outside the Rocket Game Corner, clutching the golden Coin Case that she had managed to take back from Red without him noticing. She had seen him battle three Gym Leaders already and would likely see him challenge more in the future, so she didn’t really care about missing this one. There was just something about this bright and shiny building that drew her in, compelling her to enter within those mysterious walls. It was like something inside was calling to her, asking her to find it. And the temptation of that forbidden allure had grown too strong for her to resist any longer. She had to find out what was in there.

    She walked up to a group of people entering into the Game Corner and went inside with them, avoiding any suspicion from the guards standing by the doorway. Inside, she was greeted by a blindingly brilliant golden floor surrounded by pastel blue walls with pink trim. Neon signs hung from the ceiling pointing out eh various games and attractions littering the den of avarice that Yellow had found herself in. She made her way across the building, looking in awe at everything around her until she found herself walking up to a strange poster hanging alone on the far wall from the entrance. She walked up to the poster but found her way blocked by a large man dressed in black who walked up to her to stop her from reaching the poster.

    “What are you doing here, little girl?” The man asked in a mocking tone. “This isn’t a place for kids. Scram!”

    “No.” Yellow said as dignified as she could sound, stomping her foot for added effect.

    “I said get lost.” The man reiterated. “There’s nothing to see here. Nothing strange about this poster at all. You shouldn’t even be in this place to begin with.”

    “Make me.” Yellow stood up tall and made a determined face.

    “Uugh, fine.” The man reached down to grab Yellow, but she ducked under one of his arms and mad a dash for the wall. The man’s comment about there being nothing strange about the poster just made her want to investigate it more and so she lifted up one of the bottom corners and found that there was a switch behind it. She pressed the switch despite having no idea what it did.

    The man in black chased after Yellow and almost caught up to her when the floor at the end of a short hallway nearby moved, revealing a hidden staircase. Yellow dashed towards it to get away from the man and made her way down. As she ran down the steps, she realized that whatever was calling out to her wasn’t in the Rocket Game Corner after all. It was beneath the Game Corner.
    * * *​
    Gary walked out of the House of Amity, wincing and lifting a hand up to block the bright sunlight from getting into his eyes, which had adjusted to the darkness of the old run-down theater. He looked around to see where Mal had parked and found his Dad’s car sitting just a few yards away. The four remaining members of his ‘cheerleaders’ were having a lively conversation, though he couldn’t tell what they were talking about and they quieted down as he approached the car.

    “How did it go?” Kat asked him enthusiastically.

    “You know, you could have told me this place was a Gym.” Gary said, standing just outside the car. “It would have saved me a lot of confusion. Although at least I didn’t have to suffer through you cheer routine again.”

    “You do realize that we haven’t done that since before the S.S. Anne, right?” Asked Ciel.

    “Not since the others left.” Sue added sorrowfully. “It just wouldn’t be the same without them.”

    “Yeah, whatever. I never liked that cheer and I don’t really care that those other two left. I mean it’s not like anything really happened to them or anything. They just wimped out and decided to go home.”

    “That’s kind of rude thing to say.” Mal said.

    “Yeah, whatever. Anyway, does anyone have a Revive I can use? I have something that I want to do but I don’t want to have to wait until we get to the next Pokémon Center.”

    “Sure.” Said Kat, reaching into her purse and pulling out a small yellow crystal.

    She tossed the Revive at Gary, who tried to catch it but wasn’t quite able to get a good grip. The Revive fell to the ground, forcing him to have to bend down and pick it up. As he stood back up again, he glared at the girls like he wanted them to forget what they just saw. He then held out one of his Pokéballs and tapped the Revive lightly against the button. The Revive dissolved into light and was absorbed into the Pokéball.

    “Alright, now that that’s taken care of, come out Nidorina.” He tossed the Pokéball and his Poison Pin Pokémon popped out. Gary knelt down and scratched Nidorina under her chin before reaching into his pocket and pulling out a small gray rock. He held the Moon Stone up to Nidorina’s forehead and she began to glow brightly. Gary had to take a step back as the evolving Pokémon grew larger and larger. Eventually, the glow faded and standing before Gary was a newly evolved Nidoqueen.

    “Good girl.” Gary said, placing his hand gently against the top of Nidoqueen’s head, making sure not to accidentally touch the horn sprouting from her forehead. “You’ve earned this.”

    “Are you going to evolve Nidorino too?” Kat asked him.

    “No, I think I’ll hold off on that. I might want to use my other Moon Stone for something else later. Anyway, we should get going.”
    * * *​
    Daisy stood outside of the Mossgreen Village Pokémon Center, leaning against the side of the building and waiting for Giselle to finish her battle. She caught a glimpse of movement out of the corner of her eye and turned to see what it was. A small bird Pokémon carrying some sort of green twig was marching along a row of bushes along the edge of town. Daisy looked away again and then did a double take. That Pokémon was a Farfetch’d, one of the rarest Pokémon that Daisy was aware of. There was no way she was going to let this opportunity pass her by.

    Daisy crouched down low and slowly made her way towards the Farfetch’d, who was facing the other way from her and seemed to be oblivious to the girl slowly approaching it. Daisy pulled out her Bulbasaur’s Pokéball held it out. Bulbasaur came out of the Pokéball and reached out to grab Farfetch’d with its vines before Farfetch’d had a chance to react. The Wild Duck Pokémon started flapping its wings wildly and quacking angrily as it tried to break free of Bulbasaur’s grasp, but to no avail. Daisy pulled an empty Pokéball out of her bag and threw it at Farfetch’d. The Pokéball hit its target and engulfed the struggling Pokémon before falling to the ground. The Pokéball shook once, then twice and finally a third time before the red light on its button went out and it stopped moving.

    “Yes!” Daisy said triumphantly as she picked up the Pokéball and held it triumphantly over her head. She felt that the day couldn’t get any better, but was quickly proven wrong as Bulbasaur started to glow. In a moment, it had evolved into an Ivysaur.

    “Whatever.” A bitter voice came from behind Daisy. She turned around to see Giselle standing there. “Come on, let’s just get going.”
    Erika stood at the far end of her Gym, mentally preparing herself for battle. When she had arrived back from the meeting held in Indigo Plateau that morning, the girl she had left to watch over the Gym in her absence had told her that there was a boy who had stopped by earlier wanting to challenge her. She knew that now that she was here, it was only a matter of time before that boy would return to face her. As she thought, she had only been there a few minutes before the boy entered the Gym.

    Erika had seen the boy before, or at least his picture. Samuel Redwood, of Pallet Town. She had seen his records among those of all of the trainers currently attempting to get into the Pokémon League. She went through those records regularly, keeping watch over the many trainers as they continued their journeys. If there was one thing that Erika took pride in, it was her infallible memory. Like a fly trap that snaps shut around its prey, nothing ever escaped her recollection.

    As Red approached her, Erika noted that he looked different than his profile picture showed him. In his picture “Red”, as he was known, had a very humble look about him. His brown hair was kept neatly combed and his red and white jacket was kept zipped up to the collar. He had a plain looking smile that showed his inexperience, even if he didn’t intend it as such. She had seen that same smile on countless trainers like him before. But the Red that now stood before her was much more experienced than when that picture was taken, much more confident. He wore the same vest as in the picture, but it was no worn open, revealing the black t-shirt underneath, with three badges pinned to the shirt. A proud symbol of what he had accomplished so far. His hair was no longer as neat as it had been, no being rather messy under the red and white cap he wore slightly askew. There was a proverbial fire burning in his eyes, that made them appear to be red, much like his nickname. There was also a woman with him, with long, bushy purple hair and wearing a black dress. There was something off about the woman, but Erika chose to ignore her for now and focus on Red.

    “Welcome, trainer.” Erika said. “I take it that you are here to challenge me to a Gym battle?”

    “That’s right. My name’s Red and I already have three badges” Red said proudly.

    “Very well then.” Erika gave a slight curtsy. “I am Lady Erika, the Gym Leader of Celadon City and master of the Grass-type. In accordance with the official Pokémon League rules, we shall each use no more than three Pokémon. If you manage to defeat all three of my Pokémon then you win the battle and earn the Rainbow Badge, but if I defeat three of your Pokémon before that then you lose the battle.”

    “I already know how this goes.” Red said. “I’ve already beaten three other Gym Leaders, after all.”

    “I know, and I’m sure you do know, but a brief refresher on the rules never hurt anyone. Now, if you are ready then we shall begin on the count of three. One, two three.”

    Erika tossed a Pokéball to send out her first Pokémon, Tangela, while Red called out his Charmeleon. She already knew that he would win this fight without much trouble, but it was her duty as a Gym Leader to make sure that she gave the fight her to make sure that he would truly earn the badge he would receive upon victory.
    * * *​
    As Yellow reached the bottom of the staircase, she could hear the entrance the entrance to the secret passage close behind her. She could tell that the man who was chasing her wasn’t able to get to the stairs on time and was heading back to press the button to open it up again. Or possibly send out some kind of alert that she was in there. Yellow wasn’t really sure how she knew this, but she seemed to know a lot of things that she was sure that she shouldn’t.

    As Yellow made her way along a dark hallway with gray walls and a brown tiled floor. There didn’t really seem to be anything of note about this place beside how plain it was in comparison to the bright and elaborate the building above was. There were many open doorways along either side of the hallway leading into what appeared to be offices filled with men and women in black uniforms that were too busy to notice her go by. She happened to look into one office room as a man looked up at the ceiling while stretching his arms out to the side and letting out a big yawn. This allowed Yellow to see the front of his uniform clearly. In particular, the familiar red ‘R’ that she had seen several times before. These people were from Team Rocket.

    That revelation didn’t really come as much to a surprise to Yellow though, as she had already had her suspicions about the name of the Rocket Game Corner and thought there might have been some kind of connection, but she didn’t care as much about that right now as she felt that she probably should. The hallway branched out into other hallways and formed almost a maze-like pattern, but she somehow knew exactly where she was going. There was a presence coming from deep within the apparent secret base that was guiding her way. She still had no idea what it was, but she knew that she had to go to it. She eventually came to a stop outside a closed door. She had no idea what lay beyond the door, but she felt the presence strongly behind it. Whatever was calling to her was just on the other side. She reached out for the door handle and was just about to grab it when she felt something large and hard slam into the back of her head and everything went dark.
    * * *​
    Charmander and Squirtle walked through the woods until they reached the spot where Zoroark and Bulbasaur were resting.

    “Time to go already?” Bulbasaur opened one eye as he heard them approach.

    “There is no point in dallying here any longer.” Squirtle replied. “We have reached the end of our training for now and it is time to head to the next Gym. If we hurry, we should be able to get to Cerulean City before dusk.”

    “But isn’t Saffron closer?” Bulbasaur asked.

    “I’ do not think that going there would necessarily be such a good idea.” Said Squirtle. ”I have heard rumors that the Gym Leader there is some kind of powerful psychic. I think that it would be best for us to avoid that place, in case the Gym Leader could somehow find out the truth about us using those powers.”

    “I’m a Dark-type, which means that I’m immune to Psychic powers.” Zoroark pointed out. “No one should be able to see through my Illusion and my presence should render any attempt at reading out minds to be futile.”

    “Still, I’d rather not risk the chance of getting caught. There’s no telling what would happen if we were discovered. I think it would be for the best if we avoid Saffron City and head north to Cerulean City instead.”

    “I suppose that makes sense.” Bulbasaur conceded. “We don’t want to take any unnecessary risks.”

    “Now come on, let’s get going so that we can try and get there before dark.”

    Squirtle set off on his way, with the other three Pokémon following close behind them. They were still a long way from reaching their goal of the Pokémon League, but every step of the way was another step closer and with Squirtle’s inspiring words every time things started to look down for them, victory felt like it was only just out of reach. They knew that their charade probably would not last much longer, but it felt to them as if it would last long enough. They were going to make it to the Pokémon League and they were going to win. Nothing could get in their way.
    Ash slowly opened his eyes before sitting up in bed and stretching his arms up. It was nice to have finally gotten some sleep after everything that had happened and he felt refreshed. He got out of bed and looked around the room.

    “Good morning.” He yawned as he noticed Carmine reading a book while laying on a bed on the other end of the room.

    “Mornin’.” Carmine replied, not looking up from his book. “How’d you sleep?”

    “Good.” Ash walked over to a coat rack near the front doorway and grabbed his jacket off of it. “How about you?”

    “That was the best I’ve slept in ages. Too bad it never lasts.” Carmine closed his book after finishing the page he was on and got up. “I guess it’s time to get to training now. The early Pidgey gets the Caterpie, as they say.” He then checked the time on his Pokégear. “Although I guess it’s not particularly early right now. Go wake up your Pikachu and we’ll get started outside.”

    Ash turned to look at Pika, who was still curled up and the end of Ash’s bed. It struck Ash as odd that Pika would still be asleep. Normally, the Electric rodent got up at the same time he did.

    “I think something’s wrong.” Ash said worriedly to Carmine.

    “He’s probably just a little depressed that you got rid of the girl Pikachu.” Carmine jokingly suggested.

    “I didn’t get rid of her.” Ash argued.

    “I know. I’m just saying that the two seemed close. It’s only natural that he’d experience some behavioral changes. Volty’s probably acting similarly with Misty right now.”

    Carmine’s words did nothing to calm down Ash’s worry. He knelt down in front of the bed and placed his right hand against Pika’s forehead.

    “He has a fever!” Ash shouted worriedly.

    “What?” Carmine asked blankly and walked up next to Ash. He rested his own hand gently against Pika. “Aeroblast!” He swore. “He’s burning up. We’ve got to take him to the Pokémon Center right now!”
    * * *​
    Red’s Charmeleon blasted Erika’s Tangela with an Ember. Tangela was burned by the attack and retaliated with a Vine Whip. Charmeleon dodged out of the way of the vines and ran up to Tangela, using Fire Fang it bit into the wriggly mass of vines that coated its body. Tangela managed to wrestle free from Charmeleon’s jaws and launched a spray of Poison Powder. Charmeleon was infected by the powder but was able to get Tangela with another Fire Fang, knocking it out.

    Erika sighed and recalled Tangela into its Pokéball before sending out her second Pokémon, Weepinbell. The Flycatcher Pokémon threw a Razor Leaf at Charmeleon. The leaf grazed Charmeleon’s cheek and the fiery lizard spit an Ember back at Weepinbell. Weepinbell then used Growth to try and increase the power of its next move, but that gave Charmeleon an opening to close in and use Fire Fang, biting into the brown stem at the top of Weepinbell’s head. Weepinbell tried to use spit Acid at Charmeleon but was unable to get a good shot at it. Charmeleon use Fire Fang a couple more times before Weepinbell fainted. After Weepinbell was recalled, Erika sent out her final Pokémon, Gloom, but it fared no better against Red’s Charmeleon as the others had.

    “That was short.” Erika said as she walked up to Red with an outstretched hand. “And the result was rather predictable, but here you go. You’ve earned this Rainbow Badge. Take it as a sign of your victory.”

    Red took the badge from Erika and pinned it with the three badges he already had. “Thank you.”

    “Now, if you have no other business here, I would like to get some rest.” Erika said as she walked over to a flower-shaped pillow lying on the ground nearby. “I have had a busy day and I feel that a nap is in order.”

    “Okay then, I guess we’ll be going.” Red waved goodbye as he turned to leave. He and Sable walked out the door when he finally noticed the absence of their other traveling companion. “Wait, where’s Yellow?”

    “She left before we entered the Gym.” Sable said. “I don’t know where she went.”

    “Why didn’t you tell me earlier?” Red asked louder than he meant to.

    “You didn’t ask.” Was Sable’s reply. “And I thought you would have noticed.”

    Red rested his face in his hand. “Never mind. We need to find her. And I have a strong suspicion that I know exactly where she wandered off to this time.”
    * * *​
    “I don’t think I’ll ever get the hang of teleporting.” James moaned as he, Jessie and Meowth walked along a narrow stretch of land between a cliff-face and a small river. “I think I’m going to be sick.”

    “Shut yer yap.” Meowth ordered him. “We’res almost dere.”

    “How do you know that? We don’t even know for sure where ‘there’ is.”

    “We knows that it’s suppose’d ta be a cave somewhere along dis here river, so as long as we’s follow alongside's it, we’s should get dere anytime nows.”

    “Would you two just shut up?” Jessie yelled at the other two in frustration. “Can’t I just get some peace and quiet for five minutes?”

    “Wells someone gots out of da wrong sides of the da bed dis mornin’.”

    “I didn’t get out of bed at all this morning! I haven’t slept in over a day! None of us have and I don’t know about you, but I need my beauty sleep.”

    “Ya’s got’s that right.” Meowth remarked. Both he and James laughed but were quickly silenced as Jessie smacked them both on the backs of their heads.

    “Ouch.” James said before looking up again and seeing something up ahead. “Hey, look over there! That must be the cave!”

    “Finally!”

    The three dashed towards the cave entrance and peered inside the dark interior.

    “Did anyones happen ta bring a flashlight?” Meowth asked aloud.

    “I didn’t even think about it.” Jessie answered.

    “Hold on, I think I have something that can help.” James said as he reached down for an Ultra Ball clipped onto his belt containing one of the Pokémon that he had been given back during their special training with Archer. “Come on, Magneton!”

    A yellow light shot out from the Ultra Ball a Pokémon resembling three steel orbs clung together and surrounded by magnets and screws materialized in front of them.

    “Can you light the cave for us?” James asked his Pokémon.

    Magneton stared at James with its three blank eyes and tilted forwards as if nodding and turned around. Its eyes lit up like spotlights, illuminating the dark cave.

    “Well now dat dat’s solved, I guess we should head in nows.” Meowth said as he climbed over a rock and headed into the cave.

    “What are we even supposed to be looking for in here?” Jessie wondered as she and James followed after the Pokémon.

    “I dunno, but da boss seems ta want it bad if he sent us outs ta gets it.”

    “I just hope we find it fast so that we can head out of here.” Said James. “Something about this place seems off.”

    “I know what you mean.” Jessie agreed. “I’m feeling a cold chill that I don’t think is just the wind and Arceus knows how much this humidity is going to mess up my hair.”

    “Shushs.” Meowth whispered back to the two humans. “I thinks I hears sumthin’.”

    Jessie and James stopped talking and listened for a moment. Sure enough, there was a sound coming from deep in the cave. There was a distinct sound of running water, like there was some sort of underground river running through the cave, but there was something else as well, which was hard to make out at first but sounded like deep, raspy breaths.

    The trio tried to hold back their fear and followed Magnaton deeper into the cave in silence. The noise got louder and louder as they made their way. They eventually reached the underground river and had to make their way around it to progress even deeper into the cave. At last, they finally made their way to the end of the cave and what they found there shocked them.

    “Oh, Arceus.” Jessie muttered in horror. “Is that… a person?”

    A dark-haired man that appeared to be somewhere in his thirties stood before them, encased in some kind of crystal that looked either orange or purple depending on how the light hit it. James hesitantly walked over to the man and touched the crystal. It felt as cold as ice and harder than steel.

    “What’s going on here?” Jessie asked, not expecting an answer.

    The breathing noise had become almost deafening and was now accompanied by what sounded like a heartbeat. Meowth looked around to see where it was coming from and was started as he saw a figure in a brown cloak crawl out from behind a large stalagmite.

    “Get out.”
    “I don’t know why she wanted to go here, but this is probably where she wandered off to.” Red sighed as he and Sable stood outside the Rocket Game Corner. “Come on, let’s go look for her inside.”

    The two walked into the Game Corner. Red thought for a moment that the guards standing outside were going to stop them, but it was as if they didn’t even see Red and Sable walk by.

    “Not very good guards.” Red muttered once he was sure they were out of hearing range.

    “I’m sure they had other things on their minds.” Said Sable.

    “Other than doing their job?”

    “Never mind.”

    Red surveyed the busy casino, looking for any sign of Yellow. It was hard to make out anything among the crowds and bright lights everywhere. Sable walked away towards the other end of the Game Corner and Red saw no other option than to follow her. They made their way across the swarms of crazed individuals trying desperately to make back their losses until they made it to the back wall.

    “I don’t see her anywhere.” Red complained.

    “Hold on.” Sable walked down a short hallway that appeared at first to be a dead end. It looked like she flicked her whist and suddenly the floor opened up in front of her to reveal a staircase. “What do you think the odds are that she went down here?”

    Red stared down at the secret passage and then at Sable. “How did you…?”

    “Such a coincidence that this would open up right when we’re here. Anyway, shall we go?” Sable stepped to the side and motioned for Red to go down first.

    Red begrudgingly headed down the stairs, with Sable following close behind. They made their way along a hallway until three men in Team Rocket uniforms suddenly ran out in front of them.

    “Remember us?” One of the men said.

    “Should I?” Red asked as he instinctively reached for his Pokéballs.

    “We’re the guys you beat back in the Lavender Tower. And now it’s time for us to get our payback.” Said one of the other men. “And I wouldn’t try anything if I were you. We’ve got you surrounded.”

    Red glanced back and saw three more Team Rocket grunts walking up to them from behind.

    “Any ideas of how we’re supposed to get out of this mess?” Red asked Sable.

    “I think I’ll leave this one up to you. I’m not really one for confrontations.” Sable said. “That guy did just say that you’ve already beaten then, right?”

    “I guess so. But I think I might be a little outmatched this time.” Red said as even more members of Team Rocket ran up to them. “I don’t think we have a choice other than to surrender and hope for the best.”
    * * *​
    Ash paced anxiously back and forth in front of the Pokémon Center’s front desk while Carmine stood off to the side, leaning against a wall. They had rushed there as fast as they could and handed Pika off to the nurse that was stationed there. The nurse had taken Pika to examine him and find out what was wrong and now they were waiting for her to return, hopefully with good news.

    “This wait is driving me crazy!” Ash yelled in exasperation, raising his hands up to his head and stroking his hair furiously, almost knocking off his hat.

    “Calm down.” Carmine told him. “Being impatient right now isn’t going to get you anywhere.”

    “Calm down!” Ash turned to Carmine. “For Arceus’ sake, how the Distortion World can you expect me to be calm at a time like this? Pika could be dying right now for all I know and there’s nothing I can do about it!”

    Carmine looked up at Ash quizzically. “Wow, you’re developing quite the foul mouth. Your mom would throw a fit if she heard you talking like that. I’d say that you’ve been hanging around me too much, but that wasn’t even the kind of heavy language that I use when I’m upset.”

    “What, would you prefer I say Aeroblast like you always do?”

    “No, not really. You should really watch your language. There may not be anyone else here right now, but this is still a public place.”

    “Why should I even care right now?” Ash walked up beside Carmine and put his fist against the wall. Tears were streaming down his cheeks.

    “Look, kid,” Carmine said as comfortingly as he could, “your Pikachu’s going to be just fine. It’s probably just a cold or something. Pokémon do just get sick sometimes, you know.”

    “I know.” Ash muttered. “But I just can’t stop thinking the worst right now.”

    The sound of a clearing throat turned Ash’s attention back to the desk. The nurse had returned.

    “What is it?” Ash asked, running up to the desk. “What’s wrong with him?”

    “You’re Pikachu has contracted a bad case of Pokérus.” The nurse explained. “He should be back to full health in a few days.”

    Ash gave a sigh of relief as he turned back to Carmine. “That’s good to hear.”

    “We do want to keep him here while he recovers so that we can monitor his condition and make sure that he isn’t overexerted.

    “Okay.” Ash agreed. “Then I guess we’ll be sticking around here until he’s ready to go.”

    “Well, we were planning on spending the next few days training anyway.” Carmine said as he walked up to Ash “This just means that we’ll do that training here. You already use Pika more than your other Pokémon, so this will give you a chance to test out your skills without him.”
    * * *​
    Masque stood atop the roof of the Rocket Game Corner, using a small telescope to survey the surrounding city. She turned slowly as she took in the various landmarks of Celadon. There was the Gym, where the Gym Leader was no doubt taking her midday nap as she always did. Behind that was a large park with a fountain in its center, which had always been a popular gathering place for the locals. The Celadon Department Store stood proudly as the largest shopping center in the region. There were a number of apartment buildings that had sprung up in recent years. Off in the distance, she could see the Berlitz estate, owned by a wealthy family that had moved there from the Sinnoh region. Across from that was the family estate of Lady Erika.

    A sudden burst of pain erupted from Masque’s head and quickly subsided. She dropped the telescope as she raised both of her hands to grasp her head, letting out a loud, high-pitched scream. She fell to her hands and knees, trying unsuccessfully to keep her breathing steady. She kept her eyes shut tight until she started to feel drops of water fall onto her clenched fists. It couldn’t have been rain. The sky had been completely clear just a moment ago and she would have felt it falling over her whole body. The only alternative was…

    “Impossible.” Masque tried to say, but no intelligible words could escape her mouth in the state she was in.

    The girl who had until that point been emotionally dead rolled onto her back. There was nothing else that she could do. Nothing but cry. She couldn’t explain her feelings at that moment and she didn’t know how she could feel them when the Iron-Masked Marauder had made sure that feelings were something that she would never have again.

    Masque turned her head to the side and saw the telescope that she had dropped. She could see her reflection in the lens and stared at the face that gazed back on her, half covered with the white mask that she took her alias from. The vague smile design of the mask contrasted with her own expression of pain and grief. She grabbed the mask with one hand and threw it away. She now stared at the reflection of her own face, completely exposed. It was a sight that she had not seen in a long time. That no one had seen in a long time.

    “What’s happened to you, Karla?” She said to herself before breaking down into sobs again.

    The sounds of the city below made sure that no one would be able to hear her up that roof, no matter how loud she cried out. She was completely alone up there. It would likely be hours until anyone even noticed that she was missing.
    Yellow slowly regained consciousness, finding herself strapped to a chair in an apparently empty room.

    “W-where am I?” She asked.

    “Good to see that you’re awake.” Red’s voice came from behind her. “Or at least hear you anyway. I can’t really see you right now.”

    “What’s going on?”

    “Sable and I went searching for you and somehow wandered into a Team Rocket hideout. The ambushed us and took us prisoner or something. I don’t know what plans they have for us.”

    “W-what?” Yellow found herself experiencing a sudden shortness of breath as she tried not to cry.

    “Don’t panic. I’m going to find a way for us to get out of this mess. Just hold on.”

    “I find this to be a very interesting turn of events.” Sable said with an inappropriate level of enthusiasm.

    “Seriously?” Red snapped at her. “I’m starting to think that there’s something seriously wrong with you.”

    “Hey, I made it perfectly clear when I asked to come with you that I’m just here for some excitement.”

    Their argument was interrupted as a door swung open and Mallory walked in, followed by Ken, Al and Harry.

    “It’s time for you to go.” She said coldly as each of the three grunts went to untie the three prisoners.

    “You’re letting us go?” Red asked hopefully.

    “In a matter of speaking.” Mallory smirked. “Blindfold them.”
    * * *​
    Gary climbed out of the back of the car and looked around. Fuchsia City was very different than anywhere he had been before. The first thing he noticed was that all of the roads were a dark red color, unlike the usual black or gray pavement. The wooden houses and other buildings around them seemed to have a very rustic feel to them that he wasn’t used to. He turned around and noticed that what he at first thought was just the other side of town wasn’t even a part of town at all.

    “What’s that over there?” He asked Kat.

    “That’s the Fuchsia zoo.” She answered. “And that…” she pointed to a large building nestled between thick rows of trees, “is the entrance to the Safari Zone.”

    “The Safari Zone?”

    “Trainers can go there to catch some of the rarest Pokémon in the region.”

    “Really?” Gary was intrigued by this. “Then I guess I know where I’m going next.”

    “Hold on a moment, it’s not that simple.” Kat put a hand on Gary’s shoulder to stop him from walking off.

    “What do you mean?”

    “Well first off you have to pay to get in and you only have a limited time before you have to leave.”

    “What? What kind of Tauros crap is that?”

    “They do have Tauros in there actually, but there’s more to it. You can’t actually take your own Pokémon or items inside. You’ll be given a set of special Safari Balls and have to try and catch whatever you can on your own within the time limit.”

    “You know what?” Gary said. “I don’t think I have time for that kind of nonsense. Let’s just find the Gym.”

    “Are you sure?” Kat asked him. “You could miss out on a lot. Rhyhorn, Chansey, Pinsir, Kangaskhan, Tauros… Do none of those sound interesting to you?”

    “I’m listening.” Gary said as she got his attention again.

    “I’ve even heard stories of people seeing Dratini in the Safari Zone before. Though I’ve never heard of anyone actually catching one before.”

    “Then I guess I’ll be the first!” Gary started marching off towards the Safari Zone. “Come on, let’s go!”

    Mal sighed as she saw Gary leave. “That kid never rests, does he?”

    “You can go ahead and find the local Pallet House or something.” Kat said to the others. “We’ll catch up.”

    Kat ran off after Gary, leaving the other three women behind.

    “Why are we even still doing this again?” Mal asked her sister.

    “You’re the one who wanted to go.” Ciel reminded her. “You said that you wanted to get out of Pallet for a while and do something new.”

    “Oh, yeah. That’s right.”

    “And also because Mayor Oak is paying us a ton to watch over his kid.”

    “I suppose he is. But I never realized how long this would take or how hard the kid can be to deal with sometimes. I mean seriously, who doesn’t want a bunch of gorgeous ladies such as ourselves cheering on his battles?”

    “How about you, Sue?” Ciel asked. “Why are you still here?”

    “Mostly just the money.” Sue said. “I couldn’t compete in last year’s swimming season because of a leg injury, so I’m kind of tight on cash right now.”
    * * *​
    Red, Yellow and Sable had no idea where they were being led until they felt themselves being shoved back against a wall. They had their blindfolds removed to find themselves in a storage room filled with boxes.

    “This place should do nicely.” Mallory mused.

    “I thought you said you were letting us go?” Red shouted at her.

    “I said that we were ‘in a manner of speaking’.” She corrected him. “Obviously we can’t actually let you when you know how to get into our secret base. No, we're going to have to make sure that you can never tell anyone about us or anything that you’ve found here.”

    Mallory pulled out a Dusk Ball and pressed the button on its front. A beam of dark green energy shot out and a Hypno materialized in front of her. Yellow shrieked at the sight of it and frantically tried to back away from it, but she was already against the wall.

    “W-what’s wrong with that thing?” She asked in horror.

    “What are you talking about?” Red asked in confusion, as it seemed to be a perfectly normal Hypno to him. He turned to Sable and noticed that she was also eyeing the Pokémon as if there were something wrong with it.

    “Can’t you feel it?” Yellow asked. “That thing… it’s like… it’s like its pure evil!”

    “Hm. Interesting observation.” Mallory noted. “This Hypno has had its heart sealed off using a process that our scientists developed. We call them Dark Pokémon. Are you able to see aura, girl?”

    “What’s that?”

    “Never mind.” Mallory shook her head. “It doesn’t matter anyway. You see, my Hypno here is going to wipe away all of your memories so that we can just dump you in an alley somewhere with no worries about you telling anyone about us. You won’t remember this meeting or even anything that’s happened today. You won’t even have any idea who you are.”

    “You can’t do that!” Red blurted out.

    “And why not?”

    “Because…” Red tried to think of anything to say.

    “That’s what I thought.” Mallory raised her hand in preparation to give her Dark Hypno the signal to wipe their minds but was suddenly interrupted.

    “You know, I think I’ve had enough of this little game now.” Sable said unexpectedly as she stepped away from the wall. “I’m not really having any fun anymore you’re really starting to make me worry that you might actually try to harm us.”

    “Get back over there!” Mallory ordered her.

    “If you don’t mind, I think it’s about time that you let my friends and I go. Otherwise, we’ll be forced to leave without your permission.”

    “This isn’t a game.” Red said, worried that Sable had completely lost her mind.

    “No, it isn’t. These people are threatening to take away everything that makes you who you are and you’re not doing anything to stop them. I honestly don’t understand you humans sometimes. One minute you’ll do whatever it takes to survive and the next you just give up.”

    Mallory and the three Team Rocket Grunts were suddenly knocked away by some unseen force, all of them losing consciousness as they slammed into the walls. Sable walked over to where Red and Yellow were standing and placed a hand on each of their shoulders.

    “We’re leaving.” She said disgruntledly. There was a sudden flash of light and the three were standing on a beach.

    “What just happened?” Red asked in shock.

    “The important thing is that you are out of harm’s way for now. Now, if you don’t mind, you’ve just learned a lot that I’m not ready for you to learn.”

    Sable took her hands off of their shoulders and waved them in front of Red and Yellow’s faces in a single, fluid motion. Both of them fell to the ground unconscious.

    “I almost feel bad about taking away their memories of the last few moments considering that it’s like a smaller version of what was about to happen to them.” Sable muttered to herself as she held out her arms to her sides and began to fall back. “Oh, well. Time for a dirt nap.”
    Gary looked around. There was something highly unusual about this place. The trees looked completely different than any he had ever seen before in his travels across the Kanto region and the grass seemed like it was a darker shade of green. It felt less like he was in a forest and more like some kind of jungle.

    “So, this is the Safari Zone.” He turned to Kat, who was standing beside him.

    Kat seemed to be taking in her surroundings as well, but she seemed more at home here than he felt. She took a deep breath of air and seemed to hold it in for a while before letting it back out. Gary realized that he had been holding his own breath since walking out into this place and inhaled slightly. Even the air felt different here, sort of musty. He didn’t really care for the feel of this place and didn’t think that he would be getting used to it in the time they had there.

    “There’s nothing quite like this place.” Kat said wistfully.

    “You can say that again.” Gary grumbled.

    “So, cuz’, do want to explore on your own or do you need me to watch over you?” Kat asked playfully as she ruffled her hand lightly through Gary’s hair.

    “I do not need you to watch over me!” Gary said indignantly, pulling himself away from her.

    “Good, then I’ll see you when time’s up.” Kat turned and ran along a pathway, quickly falling out of sight.

    Gary steadily walked in the opposite direction, not really sure where he was going. He walked along a patch of thick, tall grass but stopped when he heard a rustling sound nearby and turned to brace himself as a Venonat jumped out at him.
    * * *​
    Mallory limped into Giovanni’s office to find the leader of Team Rocket sitting back in his chair with his hands up to his head as if nursing a headache.

    “What could you possibly want now?” Giovanni groaned as he heard her come in.

    “Sir, there’s been an incident.” Mallory said, leaning against the door frame.

    “An incident?” Giovanni put his hands down and looked up at her. “What could possibly have happened in the last fast minutes? And what happened to you? You look like you just got hit by a Rhyhorn.”

    “I went to get rid of the intruders like you asked.” Mallory explained. “But the woman that we had no record of must have been some kind of powerful psychic. She knocked me and the others that I had as backup away effortlessly without even touching us and then they teleported away.”

    “So let me get this straight.” Giovanni raised his hand to his forehead and started massaging his temples as he spoke. “You let the intruders get away with full knowledge of our location and how to find us, meaning that this hideout, which has been the primary headquarters of Team Rocket throughout almost our entire history, has now been compromised, less than a day after we lost our base in Saffron City.”

    “Yes, sir.” Mallory looked down at the floor in embarrassment and flinched as Giovanni walked up to her.

    “What are we supposed to do now?” He yelled. “We can’t stay here and we have nowhere else left to go at this point! We’ve lost almost everything within the past forty-eight hours and now we’ve lost the only base of operations that we had left. What do you suppose that we do now?”

    “Well, sir…” Mallory did her best not to break into tears, both from fear and from her injuries. “This isn’t actually our last base.”

    “What?” Giovanni asked flatly.

    “When I was going through the archives earlier this morning, I found a locked filing cabinet that had apparently rusted open by a leak in the ceiling while we were in Saffron. Inside I found documents related to another Team Rocket facility on one of the northern islands of the Orange Archipelago.”

    “Do you mean the New Island laboratory? That facility was completely destroyed in a lab accident years ago.”

    “No, sir. We apparently had another facility on one of the other islands. It would appear that knowledge of it was kept top secret, even amongst the higher-ups of Team Rocket.”

    “Interesting…” Giovanni contemplated what this could mean. “What information were you able to gather about this secret facility?”

    “Not much sir. It appears to have somehow been connected to the New Island laboratory, but that was all I could find. I didn’t have time to look over the documents completely and a lot of them were water damaged from the leak and had become illegible.”

    “I think I have a plan for what we’ll do for now. “ Giovanni said. “We’re going to find this secret facility and make it our new headquarters, at least for the time being until we can find a better alternative.”
    * * *​
    Red slowly opened his eyes and sat up. Yellow was lying beside him and Sable was also nearby, both also just regaining consciousness.

    “What happened?” He asked.

    “I don’t know.” Said Sable. “What is the last thing that you remember?”

    “Well, we had just been captured by Team Rocket and they said that they were going to wipe our memories.” Red recalled.

    “There was something wrong with the lady’s Pokémon.” Yellow said. “But, I don’t remember what.”

    “It would appear that they tried to take our memories away and dump us here but that it didn’t work for some reason.” Sable explained.

    “I guess that makes sense.” Red said as he got up onto his feet. “Although that doesn’t really answer the question of where we are.”

    He looked around. They were on a sandy coastline, but not one that he recognized. He checked his watch and then looked up at the sun, determining that they must be on an eastern shore as the sun was over the ocean and it was still morning. There appeared to be a large city just a few miles north along the beach.

    “I guess we should head over to that city to see where we are. Hopefully we’re not too far away from where we were.”

    “That sounds good to me.” Yellow said cheerfully.

    “Everything sounds good to you.”

    “Not everything.”

    The three started heading towards the city, Sable staying a few paces behind Red and Yellow. She looked up at a nearby try and glanced at Pikachu, who was freaking out from unexpectedly finding herself teleported from Celadon to this unknown location without any warning. Sable smiled, mildly bemused by Pikachu’s reaction, before running to catch up to the others.

    “I’ve never been to a beach like this before.” She lied.

    “I think I have.” Yellow muttered. “I don’t think that it was this one, though, but I don’t really remember it at all. It’s just a feeling.”

    “Well, that’s better than nothing.” Red said. “You were also able to identify a lighthouse a while ago, so I’m starting to think that you may be from somewhere along a coastline.”

    “Do you think this city could be where I’m from?”

    “I don’t know. It seems like that would be an unlikely coincidence, but then again it could be. We’ll just have to see.”
    * * *​
    “Are you sure about this?”

    “Yes, I’m sure. I see more clearly now than ever. Team Rocket was holding us back.”

    Hun stood at the edge of a small river, Attila sitting next to him. They watched their discarded jackets be carried away by the water.

    “I’m no longer content being a lackey for a weakling like Giovanni.” Attila continued. “What kind of organization can’t even handle dealing with children. We’re much better striking it out on our own. It shouldn’t take us long before we become the strong Pokémon hunters this country has ever known. No, we’ll be the best Pokémon hunters in the world.”

    “I’m still not convinced that this is the best thing to do.” Hun said. “But I will follow you along whatever path you choose to follow.”

    “I know you will.” Attila stood up and put on his sunglasses. “I can’t always count on you to have my back.”

    “So what are we going to do now?”

    “I think it’s high time that we went after that brat from Mount Moon. He’s gone far too long without having to pay for standing up to us.”

    “You mean standing up to you.”

    “Is there a difference.”

    “Not really.”
    Gary wandered aimlessly around the jungle wilderness that was the Safari Zone, unsure of how exactly he was supposed to get out when his time was up or how some people could consider this fun. It felt to him like several hours had passed already and he stopped trying to keep track of where he was. He turned around a corner and saw a large building up ahead that was much bigger than the various rest houses he had already passed by. His interest peaked, Gary headed towards it cautiously, not wanting to be ambushed by yet another stray Pokémon.

    “Seriously,” Gary muttered to himself, “how can Kat enjoy this place?”

    As Gary walked up to the building, Gary saw a sign next to the door.

    “Safari Zone Secret House.” Gary read aloud. “What’s that supposed to mean?”

    He reached up to the doorknob and opened the door slowly. The interior of the building was immediately greeted by a man in a Safari Zone uniform.

    “Welcome to the Secret House!” The man said enthusiastically. “Congratulations!”

    “What?” Gary reflexively backed up and held his arms up slightly in what was supposed to be a defensive position, a bizarre look on his face. “What are you on about?”

    “Why, you won the contest, of course.” The man said as if that was supposed to explain everything.

    “What contest?” Gary asked as he slowly lowered his arms back down and assumed a calmer stance.

    “The contest to find this place.” The man’s smile began to fade as it became clear that Gary had no idea what he was talking about.

    “What kind of contest is that? This place is already a nightmare to try and get around in, why would you try and make it more complicated by having some stupid contest thing?”

    “To add an extra level of challenge and reward for those who frequent the Safari Zone. Are you saying that you honestly just found this place by accident?”

    “Obviously.” Gary said indignantly. “I’m completely lost right now.”

    “Oh, well you can make your way back to the entrance by just heading down the way from this building and making a right turn. You’ll need to get across a river to get there, though. Or you can just wait until your time runs out and a staff member will come to pick you up. Anyway, do you still want your prize for winning the contest?”

    “What prize?” Gary couldn’t help but ask.

    “I give you this.” The man pulled out a small piece of paper that looked like a certificate of some kind. “And then when you leave you can show it to one of our workers who will be able to teach one of your Pokémon how to use the move Surf, which will not only let you ride it properly over water but is also quite useful in Pokémon battles.”

    “You have my full and undivided attention.” Gary said.
    * * *​
    Daisy and Giselle walked along the road to Fuchsia City in relative silence until they came to a point where a tree blocked the way.

    “Well, this is just great.” Giselle sighed. “Who let a tree grow here?”

    “Yay!” Daisy pumped her fist up in the air, startling Giselle.

    “How is this something to be excited about?”

    “It means that I can finally use the move.” Daisy answered as she reached down into her bag.

    “What move? What are you talking about?”

    “The move that the Cut Master taught me after I helped an old man find his granddaughter on the S.S. Anne before it sunk in a mysterious storm that no one actually remembers and that may or may not have been the result of a stray school of Gyarados.” Daisy pulled out Ivysaur’s Pokéball and let it out.

    “Okay, you’re just making that up to mess with me.” Giselle said, annoyed.

    “No, that really happened. Now, Ivysaur, use Cut to take down that tree!”

    Ivysaur readied itself and prepared for the attack. It then fired a leaf from the plant growing out of its back that was larger and stronger than a normal Razor Leaf and glowed bright white. The leaf launched at the tree so quickly that it was hard to follow and for a moment it appeared as if the leaf had somehow passed harmlessly through the tree without making a mark. And then, a second later, the top half of the tree slid off and fell to the ground away from the road, leaving just a stump where it had been.

    “Wow!” Daisy said. “That was even cooler than I thought it would be.”

    “I mean, I guess that was impressive.” Giselle looked away and shrugged. “It would have been faster and easier to have just went around it, though.”

    “Whatever. I just wanted to actually use the move for once.”
    * * *​
    Gary walked away from the Secret House, feeling pretty good about himself. That feeling was short-lived, however, as he soon tripped over a rock. He let out a yell as he fell hard onto the ground before picking himself back up and turning around to look at the rock. The first thing he noticed was that it seemed to shine bright yellow in the sun.

    “Is that gold?” Gary wondered aloud in surprise as he reached down to pick it up and soon realized that it wasn’t a rock at all. “Oh, ew!”

    Gary was holding a set of golden dentures, still slightly damp.

    “Why would someone just leave these here in the middle of nowhere? In fact, this isn’t even nowhere, this place is worse than nowhere.”

    Gary was about to through the golden dentures away, but then it occurred to him that whoever left them here probably wasn’t going to be able to find them again anyway and they were probably worth quite a bit of money.

    “I mean, it’s not exactly stealing, is it?” He pondered. “But then again it is kind of heavy to be carrying around, not to mention gross. And I have managed to get a couple new Pokémon here plus that new move that I’ll be getting when I leave, so it’s not like I’d be leaving here empty handed if I don’t take it. I just don’t know.”

    Gary then leaped up to his feet and braced himself as he heard a loud muffled noise behind him. To his surprise, it wasn’t a Pokémon running up to him, but a stout, elderly looking man. The man stopped in front of Gary and stopped to catch his breath, clutching his knees tightly before raising one hand to point at the golden dentures in Gary’s hand and gesturing for Gary to hand them to him, opening his mouth to show his scarlet gums, devoid of teeth. The sight would have seemed comical to Gary if he didn’t find it so pathetic.

    “Fine, here you go old man.” Gary held out the dentures, which the old man quickly grabbed and shoved into his mouth without even checking for dirt first. Gary was sure that was some kind of health hazard, but he didn’t say anything.

    “Thank you.” The old man said, suddenly gaining an air of composure that he lacked a moment before. “My dentures fell out when I was patrolling the Safari Zone from the air earlier and I’ve been looking everywhere for them ever since. I was starting to lose hope in finding them.”

    “Perhaps you shouldn’t make them out of something so heavy and needlessly valuable as gold.” Gary pointed out.

    “You’ve got me there.” The old man chuckled, even though Gary didn’t mean it as a joke. “Anyway, I’m Kaiser Baoba, the warden here at the Safari Zone.”

    “Warden?” Gary questioned. “You mean like a prison?”

    “No, no. This isn’t a prison, it’s a place where people can experience what it truly means to hunt Pokémon.”

    “That doesn’t really sound much better.” Gary pointed out.

    “Okay, perhaps I could have worded that better.” Warden Baoba said. “The Safari Zone is a place that allows trainers to see what it was like for the Pokémon Trainers of old who had to catch their Pokémon on their own without modern conveniences.”

    “You mean like Pokéballs.” Gary held up one of his remaining Safari Balls.

    “Never mind.” Baoba shook his head in defeat. “Anyway, come meet me at the entrance when you're done here, I want to give you a reward for finding my dentures for me. I’m going to teach one of your Pokémon how to use the move Strength.”

    “Sure.” Gary said sarcastically. “Why not? Maybe everyone here just wants to teach my Pokémon new moves. It’s not like there are other things that could be given out as rewards than moves.”

    “So you’re saying that you don’t want one of your Pokémon to be able to push large boulders out of your way when you need to?” Baoba asked.

    “I didn’t say I didn’t want the move.” Gary said quickly.
    “Does this place look familiar to you at all?” Red asked Yellow as they reached the edge of the unknown city.

    “No.” Yellow answered disappointedly. “I don’t feel like I’ve been here before.”

    “Well, it’s possible that it’s just that this part of town doesn’t hold any significant memories for you but it seems more likely that this probably isn’t where you’re from.” Red said. “Although I still don’t know where we actually are right now.”

    It was a modestly sized city, not as big as the likes of Saffron or Celadon, but still probably one of the larger cities in Kanto, assuming that they were even still in Kanto. The city seemed to have an active harbor that was probably the main source of the city’s income and prosperity.

    “Try to keep a lookout for a Pokémon Center that we can stop at.” Red instructed Yellow and Sable. “They should be able to tell us where we are and we can stop to rest.”

    “That reminds me,” Sable said, “weren’t you supposed to meet up with that guy from the last Pokémon Center we were at?”

    “Oh, yeah!” Red exclaimed as he suddenly remembered. “He was going to help us get a Trainer’s Permit for Yellow so that she could keep her own Pokémon.”

    “We could call him when we get to the Pokémon Center to tell him why we can’t meet him right now.” Yellow suggested.

    “Yeah.” Red agreed. “Except for one problem: we don’t know his number.”

    “Perhaps you could try calling the Celadon Pokémon Center. He’s probably still there trying to fix the… thing he was trying to fix.” Sable pointed out.

    “Yeah, I suppose he probably is. Of course, we still need to actually find a Pokémon Center first.”

    “We could always ask for directions.”

    “Hey, look.” Yellow pointed at a building up ahead with a familiar red roof. “I think that’s it over there.”
    * * *​
    Gary walked over to the Safari Ball lying on the ground a few feet in front of him. He knelt down and picked it up, looking at the camouflage pattern on the unique Pokéball’s upper half. He was starting to get used to how the Safari Zone worked, though he still preferred catching Pokémon the normal way. The Safari Ball vanished in a flash of light as the Pinsir inside it was transferred to the Pokémon Storage System where it would no doubt be cared for at his grandfather’s ranch along with all of his other spare Pokémon, as well as those of all of the other Kanto trainers.

    “Let’s see…” Gary muttered to himself. “That makes a Rhyhorn, a Tauros, two Pinsir, a Venonat, a Doduo and a Slowpoke. Definitely better than I was expecting to get and I’ve still got one Safari Ball left. Hopefully I can put it to some good use.”

    Gary froze as he heard a now-familiar rustling song behind him. He ducked down and slowly turned around to face the nearby trees. A large brown Pokémon walking on its hind legs walked out into the sunlight and yawned, stretching its arms out before scratching its back and looking around lazily.

    “Kangaskhan.” Gary muttered under his breath, recognizing the rare Pokémon.

    The Kangaskhan didn’t notice that Gary was there and began to head over towards the nearby river. Gary followed it quietly, making sure to keep enough distance between himself and the Pokémon not to draw its attention. As the Kangaskhan reached the riverside and sat down in front of the flowing water, Gary readied himself and threw his last Safari Ball at it. Time seemed to slow down as he watched the Safari Ball head towards the Kangaskhan as it held something up above its head. Gary felt his heart stop for a beat as he realized what it was that the Kangaskhan was holding.

    Gary mentally kicked himself for being so stupid as he suddenly began sprinting towards where the Kangaskhan was sitting. It was a Kangaskhan, after all, of course it would have its child with it. Normally that wouldn’t be a problem, as when a baby Kangaskhan is in its mother’s pouch Pokéballs treat them as a single Pokémon. But the baby wasn’t in the pouch right now.

    The Safari Ball hit Kangaskhan on the back of its neck and the Parent Pokémon was sucked into it with a bolt of green light. Gary leaped forward towards the river, passing by the Safari Ball as it landed on the ground, not even paying attention to see if it would catch its target or not. That wasn’t his concern at the moment. He twisted himself around in the air and caught the baby Kangakhan in his outstretched arms right before he fell into the river. Gary had to struggle to keep the baby above the river’s surface as he had to swim back to shore.

    Gary managed to get both himself and the baby Pokémon onto land. He coughed up the water that had gotten into his lungs as he searched the shoreline for the Safari Ball and found it still lying on the ground as it made its final click and the light went out, showing that the Kangaskhan had been successfully captured. Without stopping to catch his breath, he quickly picked up the Safari Ball, praying that he would have enough time. He tapped the Safari Ball lightly against the crying baby Kangaskhan and it was pulled into it with the same green light that had just enveloped its mother just a moment before. As soon as it was inside the Safari Ball, the Safari Ball vanished from his hand in another flash of light.

    Now that the nightmare was over and he had successfully managed to save the baby Kangaskhan and reunite it with its mother, Gary collapsed onto the ground. He looked up at the clear blue sky as he continued to gasp for breath, completely oblivious to the loud whistling sound that signaled that his time was up. After he continued to lay there for a moment, he saw the shadow of a large bird Pokémon fly overhead and the Pidgeot dove down to land near him.

    “Are you alright?” Asked the Pidgeot’s rider, a Safari Zone worker.

    “Never better.” Gary said sarcastically.

    “Well, your time here is up. I’m here to take you back to the entrance.”

    “Thank you.” Gary sighed. “And here I thought I was going to have to walk all of the way back there.”
    * * *​
    Ash looked around at the stadium in amazement. He had watched the Pokémon League on TV but it did not prepare him to see the overwhelming awe that he felt actually being able to stand in one of the arenas where the strongest trainers in the region would gather every year to put themselves to the test and see who was truly worthy of the title of Pokémon Master.

    “I know, right?” Carmine said, amused by Ash’s reaction to the place, but also remembering who he had felt himself when he had fought in the Pokémon League all those years ago. “We have this whole place to ourselves for the day.”

    “I can’t believe it.” Ash said absently. “This is so amazing!”

    “If you think this place is cool now, you should wait until you can actually battle here for real. Hearing the roar of the crowd as thousands of people watch you face off in the hardest battles of your life, cheering on your every victory. It can be nerve-wracking, but at the same time it makes you feel… invincible.”

    “I can’t wait!”

    “In fact, now that I think about it this might actually be the exact same stadium where your dad and I faced off in the final round. We fought long and hard. I was able to get the upper hand early on, but it was still fairly close. And then your father was able to luck out in the end and beat me, like he always did… er, does.”

    “That must have been amazing to see.” Ash said.

    “Yeah.” Carmine smiled. “You know, we should see if we can find a recording of it to watch sometime. Not right now though. Now it's time to see what you’ve got and make sure that you can shape up to be the best you can be. This may just be a practice match, but I still want you to give it your all. It’s the only way to improve.”
    Ash and Carmine went off in opposite directions. When they reached the ends of the battlefield, they turned around to face each other and readied themselves for a fight.

    “I’m going to open the battle with my Ursaring!” Carmine called out to Ash. “Use that information to choose what Pokémon you will start with!”

    Ash thought for a moment. The Pokémon he had with him right now were Fearow, Sandslash, Kingler and Ghastly. Between those four, he felt that Ghastly would be the best choice for the battle.

    “Come on out, Ghastly!” Ash said as he called out the Ghost-type Pokémon, who floated around in the air above the battlefield.

    “Good, good.” Carmine said. “None of your Pokémon have an advantage over my Normal-type Ursaring, but Normal and Ghost-types are immune to each other, putting us both at a mutual disadvantage by not being able to rely on moves of those types. However, there is one thing that you overlooked!”

    “What’s that?” Ash asked, going over the type matchup in his head and not figuring out what he was missing.

    “In a real battle, you never know what Pokémon your opponent is going to use! Go, Sneasel!” Carmine threw an Ultra Ball towards the center of the arena and the small Sharp Claw Pokémon landed on the ground, assuming a defensive position. “You must always be prepared for things not to go the way that you thought that they would and you always have to have a plan of how to deal with unexpected disadvantages. My Sneasel is a Dark-type, which has the advantage over your Ghastly’s Ghost-typing. Which in addition to the fact that all of my Pokémon are far stronger than yours are, even if I’m holding back, puts you a severe disadvantage.”

    “That’s not fair!” Ash whined.

    “Life’s not fair and neither are people like Team Rocket!” Carmine argued. “Unless you put the Raticate King in your party or caught any more Pokémon without my knowledge, and I seriously doubt that you’ve done either of those two things, then you should have four Pokémon. If you can take down two of mine before I wipe out your entire team, then you’ll win this match and we’ll move on to teaching your Pokémon some new moves. If you lose, then we’ll get your Pokémon healed up and try again until you win or until the sun goes down.”

    “Fine.” Ash said. “Then let’s just get this over with.”

    “Alright then. The battle begins… now!”

    Sneasel rushed towards Gastly and slashed at him with its claws coated in the dark aura of a Shadow Claw attack. The attack struck Gastly across his face and Gastly was forced to back away as he winced in pain. Gastly tried to counter by sending out a wave of Dark Pulse, however, the attack barely fazed Sneasel, who gathered his hands together to form a ball of frost that hardened into a sphere of solid ice. He then thrust his arms out towards Gastly and the Ice Shard launched towards the Ghost-type at high speed, striking Gastly before he even had a chance to react.

    Gastly then used Payback, glowing purple before several beams of dark energy shot out from his body and pummeled Sneasel into the ground. Sneasel was quick to recover and did a backflip back onto his feet, surrounding his claws in the same icy energy used for his Ice Shard attack in preparation for an Ice Punch, but not quite quick enough. Gastly was able to use Sucker Punch to hit Sneasel with a shadowy fist that material from the purple gas enveloping Gastly’s body.

    “You’re doing pretty well so far.” Carmine said to Ash. “But how long will that last?”

    Ghastly attempted to hit Sneasel with a Shadow Ball but the sphere of spectral energy passed harmlessly through the spot where Sneasel had just been standing as he melted away into the shadows. Gastly looked around for where Sneasel had gone, only for Sneasel to reappear behind him and strike with a Feint Attack. Ghastly’s purple smoke retracted back into him as the black mass that composed his body fell to the ground.

    “That’s one down and three more to go.” Carmine said condescendingly. “You’re not off to a good start.”

    Ash sighed as he recalled Gastly into its Pokéball and worked on choosing who to send out next. Fearow and Sandslash were both weak to Ice-type moves, which left Kingler as his only viable option against Sneasel. He grabbed Kingler’s Pokéball and lifted it up. “Kingler, use Metal Claw!”

    The orange crab Pokémon sprang out of its Pokéball with its large left pincer held back and shining silver before thrusting its pincer out, propelling itself towards Sneasel with the momentum of the attack in order to try and hit the Sharp Claw Pokémon. Sneasel dodged the attack by leaping up high into the air and crossing his arms above his head and they began to glow before he flip upside down and dove straight into Kingler with an Aeriel Ace. Kingler stumbled back from the blow but was able to swipe at Sneasel with another Metal Claw. This time the attack hit and Sneasel was sent flying back from the force of it before landing hard onto the ground, unable to get back up again.

    “Alright!” Carmine said encouragingly as he recalled Sneasel. “You’re halfway done now. Take out my next Pokémon and you’ve won. And in only one try, even.”

    Carmine reached for one of the other Pokéballs around his belt. He grabbed one with a yellow top and button with a blue ring around it. Ash didn’t recognize the design. From the strange Pokéball, Carmine sent out his second Pokémon, Scizor. Seeing the large red Bug and Steel-type reminded Ash of the one he and the others had encountered the day before in the Silph Company building, under the ownership of the man in the strange yellow mask. Compared to that one, Carmine’s Scizor had a brighter coloration and seemed to be a couple inches shorter, but Ash wasn’t entirely sure about that.

    Scizor dashed towards Kingler so fast that Ash could barely keep track of it before hitting Kingler with a Metal Claw of his own, knocking Kingler to the ground with his legs sprawled out. Kingler retaliated by raising up its left pincer, the inside of which began to glow blue before launching out a spray of Bubble Beam. The bubbles popped as they hit Scizor, drenching him in water. Scizor tried to fly up into the air but found himself weighed down by the water to the point where he could barely lift off the ground. Despite this, Scizor crossed his arms in front of his chest and his pincers began to glow before he slashed his arms, creating a powerful whirlwind between himself and Kingler. Kingler tried to use Bubble Beam again, but the bubbles were torn apart by the whirlwind, which slowly moved towards Kingler. When it reached him, Kingler was sucked into it and tossed about by the Razor Wind before crashing down to the ground, unconscious.

    “And that makes two down.” Carmine pointed out. “If my Scizor can take down your other two, then you lose the battle and we’ll have to start all over again. On the other hand, you only need to take down my Scizor in order to win. The battle could go either way at this point.”

    “Like there’s any way I could lose this fight.” Ash said, more to himself than to Carmine. He considered his options. Neither Fearow nor Sandslash had any advantages against Scizor, but at the same time, he was sure that Scizor didn’t have any moves that would be super effective against either of them, which made both Pokémon equally valid options for this fight. Fearow could fly, allowing him to battle Scizor in the air, and with Scizor weighed down as much as he was, Scizor would have the advantage of speed and maneuverability. On the other hand, Sandslash was smaller and would make a harder target for Scizor to hit. He wasn’t sure if it really mattered which one he sent out first since he would be able to use the other if the first one lost to Scizor, who would hopefully at least be weak enough that his last Pokémon would be able to take it down quickly and easily.

    “I’m waiting.” Carmine said, tapping his foot on the tiled ground impatiently.

    Ash sighed and grabbed one of his remaining Pokéballs. “Give it everything you’ve got!”
     
    #11 Feb 23, 2018
    Last edited: Mar 30, 2018
  12. BZRich64

    BZRich64 The Mustachioed Machamp

    Pulgasari
    (Aron)
    Level 31
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    Ash held out his Pokéball at arm’s length pressed the front button to unleash the Pokémon inside. The great brown wings of his mighty Fearow spread outstretched as the impressively large bird took to the air.

    “Keep to the skies!” Ash commanded his Pokémon. “His Scizor won’t be able to follow you up there while it’s still weighed down!”

    Fearow spun around dramatically as he flew straight up into the air. As he reached the peak of his ascension, Fearow folded his wings back up to his body and started to fall before spreading his wings again to cast a huge shadow over his opponent.

    “That’s quite the entrance.” Carmine said. “If Fearow had Intimidate as its ability I’m sure that would have been quite effective. But Fearow don’t have that ability so the theatrics were meaningless.”

    “We’ll see about that!” Ash shouted back before looking up to his Fearow. “Use Fly!”

    Fearow fly up ever higher into the sky, preparing to dive-bomb into Scizor with as much force as possible.

    “Agility!” Carmine ordered his Scizor.

    Scizor flew around the battlefield, shaking off as much of the water as he could so that he wouldn’t be slowed down any longer. As Fearow dove back down beak-first towards Scizor, Scizor attempted to dodge out of the way but was still too slow. Fearow managed to hit Scizor straight in the chest, knocking him to the ground.

    Scizor winced slightly as he sat up, preparing to lift off from the ground and use Agility again to try and increase his speed. However, Fearow used Drill Peck, hitting Scizor on its right shoulder and flying back. Scizor slid along the ground, using his pincers to slow himself to a halt and flip out the way of another Drill Peck, jumping over Fearow and hitting him from behind with a Bullet Punch. Fearow was knocked into the ground and tried to pick himself back up, but Scizor pinned him down with a Quick Attack, striking Fearow’s left wing with the pointed ends of his feet.

    Fearow let out a squawk of pain as the dagger-like toes dug into its wing before Scizor backflipped into the air, getting ready for a Metal Claw. Scizor dove down to strike Fearow, but thanks to a well-timed Mirror Move from Fearow, Scizor found himself being the one getting hit. Scizor backed away to recover, giving Fearow enough time to get back up and into the air and turning to face Scizor. Scizor assumed an offensive stance, his right pincer glowing with the silvery aura that indicated that he was about to use Iron Claw again. Fearow prepared to counter with Drill Peck. After a moment, both Pokémon charged towards each other in midair and landing their attacks with perfect accuracy before landing on the ground with their backs turned to each other.

    A still silence passed over the battle and Ash found himself holding his breath in anticipation to see what would happen. After a few seconds that seemed much longer than they really were, Scizor fell to one knee, wincing in pain once again. Another second after that and Fearow collapsed to the ground.

    “That was a close one.” Carmine taunted. “Almost had me on my toes just then. You’ve got one Pokémon left and my Scizor’s almost out for the count. Think you can manage the win?”

    “Of course I can!” Ash yelled at him as he recalled Fearow back into its Pokéball. He wasn’t sure if Carmine’s taunting was supposed to be a part of the training or not, but it was starting to make it hard for him to think straight. “You can do it Sandslash!”

    Ash threw his last Pokéball and Sandslash pooped out of it, spinning in the air as it fell before landing on the ground. Scizor used Swords Dance as Sandshrew landed. Twelve swords of blue energy materialized around Scizor and spun around him before crossing each other above his head. Scizor seemed to glow red as the swords vanished, indicating the boost in power that the swords had granted him. Sandslash used Defense Curl, curling up into a spiked ball as Scizor moved in for an attack. Scizor rushed up to Sandslash almost instantly and hit him with a Metal Claw. The balled up Mouse Pokémon was knocked back a couple feet from the attack but then used Rollout, barreling towards Scizor and knocking him back as he hit him. Scizor stumbled and left himself open for another hit of Rollout, Sandslash jumping up and hitting Scizor right in the chest. Scizor was knocked back and fell to the ground, unable to get back up again.

    “Well, well. It looks like you managed to wi