Disclaimer: I do not own Pokemon. I do not own Janera. I did not make up Janera. Janera was created by Obsidian_Blade. Go read her fic Raven. It is REALLY good. The Wings of Council belong to an author named Topaz, on thepokemontower.com. I believe that everything else is mine.

Kanto—The Indigo League. To most trainers, the two terms are synonymous. Even in Johto, the Indigo League is looked up to because of one solitary thing. The Indigo League is the only league in the world to have the Elite Four, although there are many rip-offs and cheap imitations. Many other countries may have copies of the Elite Four, yet none match or even come close to the sheer power of the Elite Four of the Indigo League.

The Elite Four keep their positions by battling trainers, and, if they win, they retain their job. The Elite Four, which actually consists of five trainers, all masters of their craft. The name is confusing because the Elite Four consists of a Champion and four Elites—Master trainers that have earned the right to be recognized as one of the most powerful in the country, and, often, the world. The champion is, to put it succinctly, the actual Elite of the Elite Four. The actual Elite Four are actually the Elite Second through the Elite Fifth of the Indigo League. If the Champion is defeated, then the Champion is reduced to the Second rank in the Elite Four, The second becomes the Third, the Third becomes the Fourth, and the Pokémon Master in the Fifth position is bumped off the Elite Four entirely.

For Several Years, the membership of the Elite Four hasn’t changed, however, the positions of those within the Elite Four change regularly. Despite the internal shuffling, for years one Master Trainer has stood above the rest. He is the Dragon Pokemon Elite Master Trainer Lance. He has led the Elite Four, and, because of his position, the Indigo League fairly and honorably for ten stainless years.

The rest of the Elite Four consists of Agatha, a Master trainer majoring in Ghost and Poison types; Bruno, master of Fighting and Rock types; Lorelei, master of Ice types; and Karen, a master of Dark Types. While people come close to defeating the Elite Four all the time, Lance stops them all the time, or there would be another Champion in short order.

The Elite Four, or, rather, the Elite of the Indigo League, live on the Indigo Plateau, in a city by the same name. Indigo Plateau is the center of the Kantan Pokémon League. It houses a giant arena where a huge competition is held every year to decide who among the average trainers is the best. This trainer then gets the opportunity to face Lance in a highly publicized match. This is a distinct advantage for the trainer and a direct disadvantage to Lance, or whoever the Champion may be, because the winner of the tournament doesn’t need to go through the Elite Four before he faces Lance, or, if Lance is ever defeated, the Champion of the Indigo League.

The Elite Four and the Champion live in what could be described as a palace on Indigo Plateau, the center of activity for the Indigo League. The lavishly decorated mansion holds an opulent dining hall, several conference rooms, deluxe suites, offices for each Elite and the Champion, and many other accommodations that are both a necessity or a luxury for Human and Pokémon habitation, including a deluxe training chamber where top-of-the line holography allow Pokémon to keep their edge, or, conversely, for humans to practice their self-defense skills.

The halls of the mansion are lined with thick carpet the color of the sky on a night when the sky is lit up by a full moon’s glow. Tapestries of famous Pokémon and people line the room. From the legendary Gerahid of Tintia who rose up against Stephen the Pillar to every Gym Leader in the history of the Indigo League to the majestic Dratini family to the common Rattata, all manners of people and Pokémon are honored in . Among those on the foremost tapestries are the famous Wings of Council, and the Titan Council, both of which, according to legend, met on Mount Silver about once per decade. The Lati twins, both in their full glory were also displayed. Ho-oh, Lugia, Articuno, Zapdos, and Moltres, the legendary birds, were not on a tapestry, but were displayed on intricate ceiling paintings. The legendary beasts Suicuine, Raikou, and Entei were likewise not on tapestries, but instead were benches, carefully carved in exacting detail.

Lance walked through the halls, his Dragonite and Charizard flanking him, and took all this glory in the breadth of a single second—or maybe he ignored it because he had seen it all before. He had examined every inch of every work of art in every room on every floor of the mansion, so there was nothing new for him. He had been here for ten years, except for some holidays and all of his vacations, of course. As he strode through the halls, his cape billowing out behind him he nodded to aides as he passed, most of whom grinned like little kids and performed a mock salute as he passed, to which he returned, doing his best not to laugh, while others ignored him and hurried about their business. If the saluters thought that this was some kind of military organization, he wouldn’t argue with them, but he knew better. Technically, the league did have something of a martial structure, but Lance usually ignored that aspect of the league. This was a bone of contention between Lieutenant Surge, the Gym Leader of Vermillion City, and himself. Surge had served in the Third Altan Defensive War, and insisted on a very martial state of affairs for the Vermillion City Gym, and thought that the League should have be as well. Lance, however, insisted that it was for the children, and should be fun, not overly strict.

Up ahead in a two hallway, right-angle junction, he saw Karen—The Dark Elite— draped over a bench carved in the shape of a Houndoom with her Umbreon and Sneasel on either side of the ends of the bench, waiting for the other Elites to join him for the meeting Lance had called. They both looked bored, as did their master, as usual. Karen looked up at Lance briefly, then her eyes returned to the book she was reading. Karen was early, as usual. Lance smiled slightly. It was rare for Karen not to be there exactly on time, or a little early. He didn’t think that there was even one time since she’d become an Elite that she’d been late for something. To anyone who didn’t know her, it would look like she was ignoring him, but Karen was notorious for being able to multi-task. Lance was pretty sure that she was keeping an eye on everything, taking in every little detail that was going on around her, while still managing to focus most of her attention onto her book, but she might have been focusing all her attention on her book. That was the problem. You never knew with her. She was a bit unsettling, it was true, but there was nobody that Lance would trust more in a battle to watch his back than Karen. While she wasn’t the best Pokemon battler, her personal melee skills and ability to handle firearms were nearly unmatched from anyone Lance had ever known. Her knowledge of strange words helped him greatly in writing speeches, though sometimes he needed a dictionary AND a thesaurus to understand what she was trying to say in a given situation. Karen had always held a special place in Lance’s heart, and recently he had been catching himself sneaking peeks in her direction when he was sure the Dark Elite wasn’t looking.

From the left-hand corridor from his perspective, Lance could hear Agatha huffing and puffing as she plodded along towards the junction where Karen was waiting for everyone. The woman was getting older and older, and it was harder for her to get around to different places, but nobody would ever suggest to her that she was too old to be training anymore. The only time that Lance knew of that happening was at a press conference, and that young man received a stern lecture and a hard caning as a reward. The old woman was a bit eccentric, but she was a good trainer, and Lance often came to her for advice whenever he wasn’t sure how to do something. Her wise counsel and encouragement had kept him from resigning too many times to count. She was an excellent trainer, and the only reason that she wasn’t the Champion herself was because her Pokemon were getting old as well. They had long since left their primes, but were still a force to be reckoned with, as was Agatha herself. The old woman had a sharp mind, and was notorious for picking out solutions to unsolvable situations. She was rarely on time, but she tried to be. No one could fault her there. It was simply that her age prevented her from moving around quickly, though Lance had heard a rumor that late at night she practiced her self-defense skills, but he wasn’t sure of the veracity of the story.

The short, hunch-backed woman emerged from the hallway, huffing and puffing, glanced around the junction, then shuffled over to a chair that was sculpted in the shape of a Fearow, with the Fearow’s head stretching straight up, and the wings serving as the armrests. Agatha’s two escorts, her Gengar and her Misdreavus flanking her. Her Pokemon were special, too. Her Gengar’s gases was tainted a slight purple, and her Misdreavus’ gases was tainted a strong turquoise. This was, of course, not surprising, considering the length of time that Agatha had been training for seventy-five years, she’d seen and sometimes caught a thing or five.

From the left-hand hallway, Lorelei picked her way out of one of the halls, and looked at Lance, smiled. Lance couldn’t help but smile softly in return. She was the youngest of them there, at the age of twenty-six. She had first joined the Elite Four when she was sixteen, just before he had. That she had lasted so long was a testament to her strength and skill in raising and dueling Pokémon. She was quiet, and didn’t like the press. She found comfort in books, and rarely talked to anyone except Karen. Karen and Lorelei often had long conversations over books they had both read, which were generally long, and had complex plots. They usually debated in quiet tones about a character’s strong points versus his or her weak points after they’d both read it. They were, hands down, the most intelligent people Lance knew. Lorelei had, when he had battled her, had used elaborate strategies that had nearly overcome him. Her training days had gone downhill since then, however. They were great authors too. They often wrote stories about things that were, at least to his mind, exceedingly strange. Lorelei had even hinted that she was working on her very own novel. They generally wrote about a world where there were no Pokémon, where there were substitutes for them, and the substitutes were called “animals.” It was strange, but it was also amusing. Lance was a mediocre author himself, but didn’t have the imagination to make anything quite so out of the ordinary. Lance smiled as Lorelei hurried to sit down next to Karen, where they began to talk in hushed tones, Karen gesturing towards the book that she was reading.

“HAAAAAIIIIIIL,” Lance heard coming from the hall Agatha had come from, and he inwardly winced. It was Bruno, of course, making his usual noisy entrance, “THE CONQUERING HERO!” came Bruno’s booming voice, as he stomped his way through the halls towards Lance and the others. Karen and Lorelei, annoyed at the interruption in their conversation, glanced up slightly in annoyance, then turned back to each other and resumed their hushed conversation, “HE WHO IS MIGHTIEST IN AAALL THE WOORLD!!!!” It wouldn’t be so bad, Lance considered, if Bruno had the slightest semblance of a singing voice. As it was, he sounded worse than a Golem on Pokénip singing through a sewage grate. “HE WHO IS THE GREATEST IN AAAAAALLL THE WOOOORLLLLLDDD!!!!!” And the said Golem was a few miles away from the said sewage grate. Lance resisted the temptation to cover his eyes and his ears as Bruno lumbered around a corner, his Rhyhorn and his Golem both using Earthquake in tandem to Bruno’s footsteps. Bruno always wore garish clothes, that clashed in the worst way, or only pants, and no shirt at all. Today, fortunately, Bruno DID wear a shirt. Although Lance wasn’t sure that wearing a bright yellow shirt with dark pants, shoes, and dark gray baseball cap with golden chains and other things of that sort weighing him down around his neck was the best fashion choice. But then, it was Bruno’s life, not Lance’s. Although Lance did have to spend many hours a day with Bruno. Bruno would have been almost every girl’s dream, Lance guessed, if he wasn’t so out-spoken and actually learned how to dress. But, once again, it was Bruno’s life, not Lance’s.

Bruno opened his mouth to begin another verse, when Agatha, who had just reached the junction, held up his hand. “Bruno,” she said in her cracking, English accent, “I think we’ve had enough of your singing for today, thank you.”

Bruno’s face fell, “But I was just getting to the good part of the song!” he said in a voice that could be called as a Texan twang

Lance rolled his eyes. Bruno, at age forty-seven, still hadn’t outgrown his adolescence. Lance, at age twenty-nine, was far more mature than the Fighting Elite. Lance opened his mouth, but Karen’s cool voice was there before he could open his mouth, “Bruno,” she said softly in her interesting oriental voice, “I believe that Lance called us together for a reason other than to enjoy your singing. Mellifluous as it may be.” Lance frowned. He hadn’t heard that one before. He made a mental note to look it up.

Bruno shrugged, and his chains jangled together, “Sure, whateva ya say, homeys!” Lance inwardly shrank back. How a grown man of his age could act like this, he had no idea, “I’m down with that!”

Lorelei looked up, “It has something to do with Giovanni, doesn’t it? Or Team Rocket, right?” she looked worried, and her Southern accent was enunciated more than usual, “I knew that the Global Police was making a mistake when it targeted Team Rocket.”

She was referring, of course, to the Global Association of Police Agents and Crime Fighters (GAPACF, or Global Police for short), and their recent crack-down on crime. They had targeted kidnappers, murderers, thieves, drug dealers, and others of that ilk, but had specifically targeted Team Rocket, in an effort to force the gang out of Kanto and Johto. The early missions were hugely successful, but lately they had been meeting more and more resistance.

Lance grinned, “Yes, Lorelei, it DOES have to do with Giovanni and Team Rocket.” He looked around, “But I’d prefer to talk about it in the conference room.” He gestured toward a pair of ornate doors with intricately carved designs of an underwater scene. It was the Water boardroom. An entire room filled with paintings, carvings, sculptures, tapestries, and even an aquarium to show the glory of water. Or something like that. He hadn’t been paying much attention to the people who had designed it when they came to him and asked if they could make it.

Agatha leaned on her cane heavily, “So, it finally came down to the Global Police routing the bloody Rockets out, did it?” she coughed, and Lance wasn’t sure if she could stand on her own without that cane anymore. “Why, in my day, they would have rousted up the local trainers; the local gym leaders; we, the Elite Four;” she glanced at Lance, “And the bloody Champion to help take out bloody Team Rocket.”

Lorelei looked confused, and Bruno’s expression mirrored hers. “Um,” Lorelei said quietly, “What are y’all guys talkin’ about?”

Lance rolled his eyes, “If we could get into the conference room, I’ll tell you.”

Karen stretched, put her book down, and got up. “I have a feeling I know what this is about.” She said, “I thought you’d be calling us together for something like this ever since that Global Police Agent stopped by your office last night.”

Lance nodded, allowing himself a tight smile. He should have expected that nothing got past the Dark Elite’s attention during the night. He waited as the Elite Four moved into the Aqua Board Room, and took seats around the table. Lance waited until they were all seated, then shut the door and pulled a briefcase out from behind a miniature of a submarine. He placed it on the table and opened it. Inside was a small holographic projector.

Lance took a seat behind the projector. “All right. As you are all aware, the Global Police have essentially declared war on Team Rocket. As I am also sure you are aware of, Team Rocket has shifted its main base of operations from Viridian city to Goldenrod City.” He activated the holo-projector, and a three-dimensional image of the Viridian City Gym appeared. “However, the Global Police simply don’t have the man-power to eradicate the Rockets in Kanto as well as Johto.” He looked at Agatha, and a triumphant grin appeared on the old woman’s features, “So, the Global Police have asked us to help. Karen and I will handle the Viridian Gym. We’ll be in charge of a commando group of trainers, with orders to confiscate everything in the gym, for the Global Police to look through later.”

Bruno looked up at Lance, a strange expression on his face, “So, what, then. You expect us to sit around here, homey, twiddling our thumbs?”

Lance forced himself not to smile, “Actually, I was coming to your part next.”

He pushed a button, and the diagram of the gym changed to one of a building with garishly bright eyes, “This, my friends, is the Rocket Game Corner in Celadon City. Erika’s let them stay there because of the revenue they provide. However, we can’t let them stay anymore. Not with the atrocities they’ve done, and gone unpunished. Now is the time to punish them. Bruno, Agatha, Lorelei, you three are to rendezvous with Erika, and you four, along with the trainers from the gym and any local trainers who have volunteered to help the Global Police against Team Rocket, are going to go and root out any Rockets from their base below the Game Corner. A Global Police Agent will brief you when you arrive in Celadon. Any questions?”

There weren’t any. Lance nodded, “All right, then. Ladies and Gentleman, we have our assignments, let’s saddle up.”

“Lock ‘n load,” Karen said quietly, but loud enough that everyone could hear her. With that, everyone got up, and moved towards the door. Everyone, Lance noticed, except Lorelei. Lance caught Karen’s eye, and she nodded, and stayed behind in the room. Lance had discussed Lorelei with Karen before, and now, as he had told her, he wanted her to do something to boost her self-esteem. More than likely, she was grateful that she didn’t have to hear Bruno talk about how great he was going to be in the Celadon raid. As for Lance—He had to get going and brief the team that had been assigned to him on their up-coming mission.

Karen returned to her seat, and faced Lorelei, who was still sitting, and was staring at the aquarium. A Goldeen and a Corsola werer squaring off, and it looked like they were about to fight. “Hey,” Karen said softly, “Are you okay?”

Lorelei jumped, “Hm? Oh, what did y’all say, Karen?” she turned around to look at Karen, but the Dark Elite noticed that the other girl’s eyes didn’t quite meet hers.

“I was asking,” Karen said gently, “if you were okay. Is there something bothering you?”

There was a long pause as Lorelei considered this, then she said, “Not really.” There was another pause, “Well,” Lorelei said, “It’s just that…” she hesitated, “I mean, what if it turns out that I’m not really the coun’y champion? That everybody just lets me win ‘cause they feel sorry for me?” Lorelei's eyes slowly came up to meet Karen's, almost begging her to change the subject, or to let her go get ready for her upcoming mission.

Karen stared at Lorelei in disbelief. “THAT’S what’s been bugging you?” she asked incredulously, staring at the Ice Elite in disbelief, “Lorelei, listen to me. you’re in the Elite Four. You’ve beaten all the gym leaders. You win about half your matches, and most of the matches you lose is because you stop thinking that you can do it! Let’s take, uh, that Trainer who majored in Normal types,” Karen said, referring to a loss that Lorelei should have won easily, “You lost your nerve. You had everything all set up for your win, but you cracked.” The trainer, when he faced Karen, had been defeated easily. But Karen could say one thing about that trainer, he certainly had resolve.

“He was going to beat me anyway,” Lorelei mumbled, looking at her hands, and shifting uncomfortably, “His Clefairy was tough as an Urs’ring. His Chansey was mean as a ‘doom. I thought it was just better to end quickly than to unneccesarily hurt my Pokemon.”

For an instant, Karen could only stare at her counterpart in disbelief. Then she started feeling the annoyance beginning to build up within her. She forced it down, though. She forced herself to remain calm. Lorelei was a superb trainer, but the Clefairy she had been referring to had only taken one or two hits from her Umbreon before it went down. The Chansey almost didn’t fight because it was too timid. “Lorelei,” she said, forcing herself to have a calm voice, “You should have won that fight easily. Look at me.” Lorelei looked up, but didn’t meet Karen’s piercing gaze. “LOOK at me.” Karen repeated, adding a tinge of steel to her voice-allowed her frustration to come through. Lorelei, startled, quickly jerked her head up to look straight into Karen’s gaze, “You are an excellent trainer, one of the best. In fact, I’m pretty sure you could give Lance a run for his money if it came to that. I cannot—WILL not allow you to be like this.” Karen’s glare seemed to shrink Lorelei until Karen was amazed that the girl had even gotten this far. “You sacrificed your life, your hopes, your dreams, your entire teenage life to reach this moment.”

Karen leaned forward, and Lorelei flinched, “I looked through your trainer file. You were one of the most ruthless trainers out there. You did whatever you had to do to make ends meet, and get that one last badge. It said that you battled five trainers at once to get a room at the Indigo Plateau Pokemon Center. That you took on Team Rocket almost daily, and almost always won. That you won almost ninety-five percent of your reported battles." What's happened to you? Karen added silently to herself.

Lorelei’s gaze wandered, and she seemed to shrink in on herself even more, “Long time ago,” she mumbled, “I haven’t been that person for a long time. Don’t worry about me,” she said in a barely audible tone, “I c’n take care of myself.”

Finally Karen could stand it no longer, and pounded the hard-wood table with one fist. “THAT’S IT!” She hissed in a loud voice, “I will not see you like this anymore!” Karen stood up, and, with one hand on the table for support, leaped over the entire table. She pulled Lorelei out of her seat with one hand, and snatched one of her Pokeballs off of her belt with the other. “Do you see this, Lorelei?” The girl nodded feebly, “When they became yours, they sacrificed their lives, their goals to help you find yours!” Karen slammed it down onto the table. Hard.

“Hey!” Lorelei said, “y’all be careful with that!” The anger was palpable. Karen had to play this just right to draw the girl out.

Karen shrugged, “Whatever. It’s not like you care about them any more.”

Lorelei’s eyes were suddenly alive with the fire that Karen had come to know so well when the girl had first been a part of the Elite Four. “What’dya say?” Lorelei demanded in that imperious tone she hadn’t used in quite some time.

Karen let loose a small grin. It infuriated Lorelei even more. “I mean,” Karen said harshly, that they gave you their trust that you would train them to the best that you could! Instead, you allow yourself to backslide!”

Lorelei seemed to crumble underneath Karen’s verbal assault. Karen internally winced. She had almost had the old Lorelei back. She had been so close. “M’be-m’be you’re right. Maybe I should quit.” She mumbled.

Karen saw her chance, and seized it with both hands. Or, in actuality, two handfuls of Lorelei’s ice-blue tunic. She pulled the Ice Elite up to her face, and began talking again. “I’m right!” she hissed into Lorelei’s face, which was barely an inch from hers, “And you know it! You let your Pokémon down!” Lorelei seemed on the verge of tears, “But it’s not too late!” Karen said, and shoved the girl back down into her chair, “Reclaim what you once had, Lorelei. Fight with all your heart and all your soul when you go to Celadon, and see if you can remember what it was like, being on the road, back when you were merely another trainer!” Lorelei said nothing, and seemed to cower before Karen. Karen internally grimaced. That hadn't worked. If anything, Lorelei seemed about ready to resign.

Karen decided to use one last tactic, one which being the Dark-type Elite certainly enhanced her abilities for. “You disgust me!” Karen said, speaking, to her regret, truthfully. Lorelei’s head shot up, the old fire in her eyes, “You have so much potential, but you don’t use it! Instead, you settle for mediocre, when you should be trying to be superb!” The fire in Lorelei's eyes was returning in greater force than before, and Karen inwardly grinned. “If you’re going to continue to be like this, then you really should just go home. You don’t belong here.” That last bit might have overdone it, actually, Karen thought to herself, but she hadn't been able to stop herself.

Karen turned and stalked out, and saw the Ice Elite jump out of her chair with balled fists. As soon as she was out of view, she began to saunter away, past Lance, who obviously had been listening. “She’d give ME a run for MY money?” he asked, amusedly in his distinctly Kantan accent.

Karen looked up at him and grinned, “Don’t underestimate her, Lance. She’s a powerhouse, yet so little of her potential has been tapped.”

Back in the Aqua Board Room, Lorelei stood, clenching and unclenching her fists. “Y’all want me to go home, Karen?” she said to thin air through gritted teeth, “Y’all just wish. I’ll show you that I belong here. Then we’ll see who’s so smug!” Lorelei snatched up the Pokeball that Karen had taken from her belt, which she had put onto the table, and strode down the corridor with fresh confidence in her steps, a sense of surety to her stride. She had a mission to prepare for. She’d show them. She’d show them all. Lorelei was BACK. And she was here to stay. And nobody, not even Karen, was going to make her go home.



It was just another day in the life of Team Rocket for Giovanni. Butch and Cassidy brought home thousands of dollar’s worth of merchandise from various Pokémarts around Kanto and Johto, Jessie and James reported in with yet another screw-up, and there was yet another dire threat for them to face. Giovanni was almost bored by the sheer monotony of it all. Almost. This Global Police thing had started out as a minor irritation, but now, it was becoming a far more serious problem. They had already managed to thwart his plans to steal the Pokemon from the breedery just outside of Goldenrod—a plan that would have gone off without a hitch, but now five of his men were dead, and another seven injured, not to mention the three Rockets that were captured—His plan to raid the warehouse of the goldenrod Pokemart—He had lost another seven rockets there, ten injured, but thankfully no one was captured. And all they had to show for it was a handful of ordinary Pokeballs. Empty, of course. Both the strikes had taken weeks of preparation, and no one was supposed to be hurt. Now, because the GP had barged in, twelve of their number were dead, and four innocent civilians as well.


That would all change, and it would change soon. He had just finished briefing Butch and Cassidy via vid-phone on the problem, and they had just left the Viridian Gym with a contingent of Rockets to wipe out a strike force of the Global Police. He was currently inspecting the base underneath the Celadon Game Corner, and from what he saw, he had nothing to worry about. The Global Police, or anyone, for that matter, would have a hard time getting into the base without taking heavy losses. This was, of course, assuming that they even tried to, considering that in the day, there were dozens of civilians all around, and, during the night, constant watches were kept, and the entire base was on a state of heightened security. Nevertheless, he had insisted on issuing hand guns to all Rockets in Kanto and Johto, just as a precaution. The operatives in other countries didn’t need guns, yet. After the Game Corner inspection, he was due to leave for the Orange Islands, to check up on the third largest cell on the planet.

As he looked over yet another piece of machinery, he couldn’t help but be annoyed by the incessant whining. Stopping his examination of the machinery, he turned and glared at Jessie and James. “Shut up!” he hissed, “you are NOT getting guns! I made my decision, and that’s final!” The morons would probably just shoot each other before they figured out how the guns worked. On the other hand, that might not be such a bad thing.

“But, boss!” James whined, “How are we supposed to be as good as the other Rockets if we don’t have guns and they do!”

Giovanni leveled his glare on the boy, but the idiot just stood there and blinked, probably not even realizing that his boss was mad at him. “How many times do I have to tell you? The guns are for emergencies ONLY!” he bellowed, and slammed his fist down hard onto the machinery next to him. “Besides, I gave you a chance to be as good as everyone else BEFORE I issued guns. For SEVEN STINKING YEARS! But were you good? No!” to say that he was getting really annoyed now would probably have been the understatement of the century, “No,” he repeated, “You screwed up assignment after assignment! Whenever I gave you an assignment as easy as delivering a suitcase to a Rocket, you gave it to an Officer Jenny!” His fist whipped out, and caught James on the side of the head. Of course, it was a lucky thing that it was only Butch’s shipment of jelly beans, or they would have been in very serious trouble. Of course, Butch was pretty mad at James for a while.

He turned to Jessie, “And YOU!” he roared. The other Rockets moved back from Giovanni. They ALL knew not to interrupt him when he was talking to Jessie, James, or Meowth. And to stay way back if he was talking to all three of them. The other rockets were liable to have their heads handed back to them, unless they were Butch or Cassidy, the undisputed Boss’s pets. “YOU’RE the BRAINS of the outfit, or, at least, you’re supposed to be! If anything, your plans are even more stupid than James’!” Another fist whipped out and caught Jessie on the side of the head.

 “You’re both failures, you know that? Why couldn’t you be more like Meowth here?” Giovannia demanded, and glared at the humans, not speaking to each other for several seconds—stewing.

Jessie and James looked at each other sheepishly, then looked down at Meowth, who was preening himself. “AND YOU!” Giovanni grabbed Meowth by the neck, “WHY COULDN’T YOU BE MORE LIKE PERSIAN!” He threw Meowth into James, who caught him, but stumbled back into Jessie. Just that quickly, they became nothing more than three objects taking up space on the floor.

Giovanni glared down at them. “Get out of my sight,” he snarled, turned and stalked out of the room.

Jessie looked at James, and James looked back. They were in trouble again. They had better lay low for a few days, Jessie decided, or—


“Hey!” James exclaimed, “I’ve got an idea!”

“Wonderful,” Meowth complained, “Da Human scatterbrain has yet anotha idea ta get us inta trouble.”

“No, no no!” James said, “Let’s think about this for a minute. You guys have heard of Professor Oak, right?”

Jessie stared at James, “Heard of him, how can we not? He’s on the news almost every night. He’s always got something or other going on.”

James brightened, “Exactly! He’s usually got a few Global Police guys with him, right?”

Jessie stared at James, not sure if she should jump into the idea right away or not. “Go on,” she said cautiously.

“Well, since the Global Police People are all in Johto now, there’s no one to stop us from helping ourselves to Oak’s research and Pokémon. It’ll get Giovanni into a better mood, won’t it?” James asked, looking around for support.

Jessie stared at James in shock, “James. That might be the best Idea I’ve ever heard from you in…” she trailed off, and thought about it, “That I’ve ever heard you have. Let’s go tell Giovanni, and we’ll be off.”

“Whoa, whoa whoa!” Meowth said, “yous are gonna tell Giovanni about dis? He’s in a bad enough mood already. If I could tell yous what to do, I’d tell yous to surprise ‘im.”

James looked at Jessie, “He’s got a point. I mean, wouldn’t Giovanni just get mad again and fire us?”

Jessie shrugged, “Good point. Let’s go.”

The three of them hurried towards the door, with James in the lead, stopping only twice to pick themselves up after James tripped.



Lorelei, Erika, Agatha, and Bruno sat in a diner across from the Rocket Game Corner, discussing tactics. It was a nice place, with cobble-stone flooring, stone tables, and the best part was that the eating area was outside. “I don’t know what they’re doing,” Erika said in a quiet voice, “But Rockets have been coming and going more often than usual the last few weeks.”

“Do you think that the Global Police thing has something to do with it?” Agatha asked.

Erika shook her head, “I don’t think so. The Rockets had been lying low, trying not to draw attention from themselves. But recently you’ve been able to tell a Rocket by whether or not he’s wearing a sidearm.” She was a small woman, petite, and had a tan that suggested that she spent long hours in the sun. Truth be told, she didn’t train her Pokemon very hard—they trained themselves. Her green eyes glanced around, warily, and she shoved a strand of her amber hair back over her shoulder. “Don’t keep an eye out for them, though.” She said quietly.

Lorelei gaped at Erika, “You’re kidding me. They’re using guns?”

Erika glared at Lorelei, “Not so loud. Rockets have spies all over this city. You want one of their sleeper snipers to come out of hiding just for us?” Lorelei quieted down, and Erika relaxed somewhat, “Sorry. You live in Celadon, or Viridian, I hear, for long enough, and certain precautions become second-nature. Anyway, they’ve been wearing side-arms, and a large group recently headed out of here. It looked like they were heading for Johto.”

Agatha leaned forwards, “What can you tell us about the Game Corner?” the old woman asked, then coughed several times until she took a drink of water.

A waiter approached with their food, and Erika waited until the man had retreated back to the kitchens, “If you’re expecting a fight, it’s not good. They’ve got people every twenty feet or so, it’s crowded in there, and movement is hampered at best—impossible at worst. There are rumors that there are as many as thirty levels to the place, but if there is more than one level, I’ve only seen the top one. Slot machines, craps tables, you name a gambling thing, it’s there. At the back left corner as you come in, there’s a bar, and directly in front of it is a dance floor, with a band stage off to one side. I’ve got some of my trainers in as the band for today, to cut down on that risk. There’s not much to the stage…just a raised bit of ground with outlets, spotlights—stuff like that.” Erika looked up, as if to draw inspiration out of the sky, “Let’s see here, what else is there? Oh! There’s a bookcase in the rear right corner, and behind that is a narrow corridor to the restrooms. If there really is an entrance to lower levels, I’d bet that it’s there. At any one time, there are probably a couple hundred people, with a maximum capacity of about a thousand, but that’s a really crowded place, if there’s that many.”

Agatha bit her lip, “This doesn’t sound very promising. We need to time it so that we have a minimum of civilian casualties.”


“Plus, they could have sleepers,” Erika pointed out, and leaned forward, “Look, I don’t think that this is a very good idea. Ever. Are you guys willing to wait until dark? Rumor has it that they have a barracks down there in the alleged lower levels.” She shrugged, “I would imagine that we’d be able to capture quite a few Rockets.”

Lorelei shook her head, “No, that’s not a good idea.”

“Why not?” Erika demanded, “It’s better than any I’ve heard you come up with.”

“Because in five minutes, the Global Police are attacking in Goldenrod, Lance and Karen area attacking in Viridian, and we are supposed to attack in five minutes.” Lorelei pointed out. “Didn’t you read the memo? We’re supposed to execute a three-pronged strike, so that no Rockets will be able to escape.”

Erika sighed, “I know,” she said quietly, “But I don’t see this working as well as a night strike.”

Lorelei leaned forward, “If we do a night strike, It’ll prove to the Rockets that we’re cowards, and can’t do anything overtly.”

Agatha smiled, and laughed in her cracking voice, “I agree with Lorelei. I have to admit, It’s good to hear what I was about to say coming from someone that’s less than half my age.”

Lorelei looked at Agatha, “Thanks,” she mumbled, “I think.”

Bruno nodded, “I agree,” he said, food spilling out of his mouth.

The three women all looked away. “Then it’s settled,” Lorelei said quietly, “We go in as soon as we finish eating.”

Erika looked around the table, saw everyone nodding and sighed, “All right. If that’s what you want. But believe me. It would be better if you had waited.”


The three women, and Bruno finished eating in silence, pausing only occasionally to glare at Bruno when he belched loudly, and got to their feet, Agatha insisted on paying, and after she had done so, the four casually made their way into the game corner. Instantly, every sense was under attack.


The smell of sweat, smoke, alcohol, and too many bodies too close together for too long was overpowering; the sound of raucous music and screamed lyrics assaulted their ears; and the strobe lights hurt their eyes. Bruno seemed to like the music, but the surprising thing was that Agatha was the only one who seemed fully comfortable. Lorelei glanced around curiously, and a little nervously. Erika glanced around as if she might be under attack any second. Bruno, immature as he was, started bobbing his head in time to the music and would have gone over to the dance floor.


The women eyed him warily, then they too split up, moving out to scope out the Game Corner. Lorelei wandered around the various gambling venues, occasionally taking part in one or two of them. Bruno, of course, was gyrating on the dance floor, oblivious to everyone around him except for those immediately around him. Agatha hurried towards the hallway that Erika said held the restrooms, and entered the restroom immediately. Erika, bored because she had seen it before, wandered over to the bar and ordered a Root Beer. Everyone, except Lance, of course, kept an eye out for Rockets, guns, or anything else that could pose a threat. Numerous trainers and other sorts of people wandered about, several wearing Rocket uniforms, but Erika recognized several more Rockets by their pictures.


Erika glanced around, and spotted Lorelei looking at one of the latest gambling machines. She wasn’t sure what it was called, but all she knew was that it was big, had digital screens, and had a whole lot of bells and whistles. Literally. She glanced over towards the hallway where Agatha had gone. It had been about three minutes, and, Erika was mildly surprised to see the old woman coming back out.


That meant it was time. Reaching into the small green purse she carried with her, her hand settled around the small pistol with its silencer, and pulled it out. The barkeep saw it, and his eyes widened as he bent down to get something from underneath the bar. Erika’s left hand grabbed the handle of her glass mug, and she swung it up into the barkeep‘s face as her right hand came out of her purse, pistol in hand. Without a second thought, she aimed for the nearest Rocket and fired, while her left hand was releasing her Pokemon. The bullet slammed into the rocket, though the detonation wasn’t heard due to the muffler and the noise. It struck him several inches to the left of his lung, and he fell over backwards, over a table with his fellow Rockets. One of them glanced up at her, startled, and abruptly he reached for his belt. Erika’s aim shifted slightly, and he was down too, wounded, but not mortally so. Then her Pokemon’s Vine Whips came into effect, and she was suddenly on a chandelier above the room. It gave her partial cover, and a superb firing position. Agatha, Lorelei, Bruno, and the band were beginning to fight as well. Her trainers pulled their own silenced guns and began firing nonlethal shots


Hysterical crowds ran for the door, and they would be intercepted by gym trainers, just to be sure that no Rockets escaped. No one would be able to get to where she assumed the door to the lower levels was, but that wouldn’t keep people from below coming up. Except that she saw one of her trainers taking up a position behind the Ghost Elite.


She spotted another Rocket, aimed, fired. His hand yanked away from the gun he was reaching for, and shrieked in pain. Then everything went down the tubes. Some Rocket somewhere got a gun out, and let out a shot. And it was Lorelei that screamed bloody murder. Erika whirled around, and fired. Not having time to take proper aim, she feared that he would die, but there was no time to worry about it, because another shot rang out, and someone else screamed, and Erika didn’t recognize the voice, and feared it was a civilian. Pokemon’s attacks flew all over the place, and a stray Flamethrower snapped the chain holding the chandelier up, and suddenly Erika was thrown back into the fray of battle. With a snarl, she put the gun into her belt and pulled out the two small knives she kept in hidden compartments of her sleeves, and began fighting in some very messy close quarters combat. She made a mental note to change the clips on the gun before she had to do ranged combat again. Most of the people in the Game Corner now were Rockets, and a few running towards the door. Lorelei was pulling most of the weight, although Agatha was probably doing more than her share keeping the Rockets on the top level and from escaping. Bruno wasn’t doing much damage, but what damage he was doing was to what looked like high ranking Rockets. Erika looked around for the nearest group of Rockets and charged, waving her swords in a threatening manner.

A dark figure slinked through the dark streets of Celadon City. It was night, but few of the lights were still on. The attack on the Rocket Game Corner had damaged power lines, to most of the city, leaving vast portions of the metropolis without power. Team Rocket had taken a lot of damage, and it would take them a long time to rebuild. There were rumors floating around from those who still had electrical power that the Elite Four had attack the Game Corner, with the help of the local Gym Leader, and the Viridian Gym had also been attacked by Lance, the Champion of the Indigo League, Karen, the Dark-type Elite of the Elite Four, and a collection of local trainers that had volunteered to help with the raid.

According to some sources, the main fighter in the Celadon raid was Lorelei, who had broken through her losing streak, and managed to become the focal point in what some were beginning to call the Celadon Slaughter. Team Rocket, caught totally by surprise, had been routed in a matter of minutes. The Elites, Erika, and Erika’s gym trainers swept through the building like wild-fire, encountering real resistance only on the lower floors.

However, there had been numerous civilian casualties, but as of yet no deaths, however, approximately fifteen were in the hospital, however. Only two Rockets had died in the raid, an impressive statistic, although approximately three hundred of the four hundred fifty Rockets that were captured were wounded. The figure knew that, and she also knew that if she didn’t get back to her retrieval point in the next five minutes, she would be stuck in Kanto for a very long time. She had gathered valuable intelligence about Kanto in general, and the individual cities and leaders in particular.

For instance, she hadn’t known before she came here that the rulers of the individual towns were the gym leaders. She hadn’t known that the gym leader was decided not by election, but by whoever was the gym leader at that particular time. And she hadn’t known that the process by which a gym leader became a gym leader was actually a “Survival of the Fittest” type of succession, in which the gym had many different trainers, all vying for supremacy, and, ultimately, the gym leadership. The person who had been a gym leader for years had no guarantee that he would remain a gym leader in a week. of course, her masters probably knew all that already, but it was her duty to give them all the information she had gathered.

She had also managed to gather a lot of information about Professor Oak and his research projects. It hadn’t all been published, as her masters had assumed, and the populace of Kanto, she knew, would not accept all of them with open arms if they were exposed. He had known this, and yet he had continued his experiments. Because of this small fact, the Pokémon Prof had given her and her masters a valuable piece of blackmail that they could use against him.

She was quick, and she was silent. She was deadly, and she was prolific with all types of equipment. She was fast, and she had a prodigious memory. She wore a loose-fitting black garment that fit her to her exact standards, made by the finest tailors in her home country. Not an inch of skin was exposed. She was stealthy. She was the best in Special Operations that her country had ever made. In its entire history. They needed her now more than ever, as they prepared to execute their greatest land grab in history, with the most men in history, with more at stake than anybody else. In history. Period and full-stop. She had scouted this route when she had first come to the country five years before, and she had scouted it many times since. There was rarely anyone along this particular course she chose through the city that had come to a stale-mate so suddenly.

The last stretch….yet the figure did not run. The figure was content to continue her stealthy approach to the door. She achieved the door, opened it quietly, and slipped through. Ducking through a small entry-way, the figure darted into a broom closet, and emerged in a form-fitting black suit that she had been wearing outside, but now her red hair flowed over her shoulders, down her back, and almost down to her waist. Her turquoise eyes impaled anyone that crossed her path, and they instinctively moved out of her path. Her stride, no longer the short, stealthy movements of one not wishing to be seen, was now a strong, long march as she walked through the halls. The rhythm of her feet never slowed nor sped, and maintained an even tempo, even as she climbed the stairs.

Her muscled arms and legs kept anyone from staying in her way for longer than it took to catch sight of her. If anyone had ventured a guess as to her profession, they likely would have said that she was an acrobat. Her real job—that of a spy—was not outside of the realm of imagination as a person looked upon her. After walking a certain number of steps, she stopped, turned crisply at a right angle to her left, unlocked the door, opened it, and stepped through all in one smooth motion.

Inside the room, it was dark, but thanks to the low-light contact lenses that she wore, she could see perfectly. As had been arranged, and Alakazam was waiting for her in her room. She nodded to it, and it nodded back. Through an assortment of hand gestures, she motioned to the things that she had labeled for remote teleportation. The Alakazam nodded once, and a bright light seemed to enfold them. If anyone had slowed down a tape slow enough, it would have looked like a bright silver light forming over their heads, then moving down at an alarming rate that enveloped them both. It was, in fact, the technique known simply as Teleport, which is exactly what it did. In the blink of an eye, the two stood on top of a platform inside a facility with brightly polished walls that gave no clue that this location was actually thousands of miles away from Celadon City.

No one spoke as she strode off the platform and out of the room, but there seemed to be a collective sigh of relief as she left the room. She strode into a room, and, after exactly one minute, emerged in an entirely different uniform. The uniform was completely black, except for a bright red stripe that ran down the exact middle of the side of the uniform. She walked, no, it was more like she stalked down the hall, and entered a room called “Debriefing.” It would take days for her masters to extract all of the information she had gained from her, but she was willing to take as much time as was needed.

She was, after all, the best spy in the infamous Engaran spy league. And her previous mission had been, after all, vitally important to the continuing supremacy over the rest of the world.

And once the campaign began, there would be no stopping for Engara, or for the world. It would be a one-time ordeal. If it failed, then Engara would cease to exist. If it succeeded, the entire world would be under Engaran control. When it was all boiled away, that was what it came down to.

Either glorious success…or a pitiful failure.

Special Agent Anne Peters was willing to sacrifice her life to ensure that her country had success. Her country, her master, and her religion demanded it. As did she for herself. And when she set her mind to something, there were few that could have stood before her.

And most of those were dead.



Duck! Lance’s instincts screamed at him. Without thinking, he dropped to the ground, and a Scyther’s arm claw swung where his neck had been. He rolled backwards, and the other arm claw struck the ground where he had just been. He came up with a left that hit the Scyther on its left torso, and rolled away is its right scythe came up and nearly sliced him in half. Suddenly, Lance heard a roar and he dropped to the ground moments before flames shot by overhead, and struck the Scyther, who cried out in pain before collapsing to the arena floor. Lance looked up at his Charizard, and nodded his thanks. He got up and dusted himself off, and looked around. He and Karen had come in alone, and were meeting stiff resistance. Karen was working her way over to the living area of the gym, her Pokemon going in front of her as a sort of buffer while he and his Pokemon were trying to keep the Rockets busy.


Then he didn’t have time for anything else. Three Rockets were coming in, and their Pokemon as well. He had his Charizard with him, but the rest were elsewhere. Somewhere he heard his Dragonite roar out in pain, but he couldn’t allow himself to be distracted. In came an Umbreon, and he rolled to the side, grabbed its tail, and threw it into a Rocket, who tumbled over backwards. One Pokemon temporarily down, seventeen in this group to go, and still two more trainers. Then a Raticate was launching itself at his leg, and a roll and a swift kick knocked it aside. Then rough hands grabbed him, and he was out of time. The humans had arrived. Poor Charizard was overwhelmed, when suddenly, with a screech like some feral bird of prey, his Aveamon swooped in, grabbed the Raticate and an Espeon, darted up high into the gym with its powerful cerulean wings, and hurled them into the ceiling of the gym before coming back down for another pass.


Most trainers had never seen an Aveamon before. He certainly hadn’t, when he had visited Alto for the first time. This particular Aveamon was one of the youngest of the species to ever leave the island.


Suddenly, the Aveamon slammed into the Rocket holding him, and Lance was momentarily disoriented by the black tail feathers before he managed to fall forward, and roll to the left. It was a move that saved his life. The Umbreon had returned and had leaped towards him, and it was only his move that saved him from certain death. He glanced up at his Charizard, and saw it on the ground, panting. From somewhere, another Scyther was coming in, its arm raised for a killing blow. Lance pulled a ball from his belt and held it towards the fire type, “RETURN!” he called loudly.


One down, but he still had five left. Draman, his tiny Psychic Dragon came barreling out of nowhere and knocked aside the Umbreon, who responded by sinking its teeth into its attacker’s golden tail. Howling in pain, Draman flew into the air and dislodged the Umbreon by smashing it into a Rocket’s head, then flew off, its golden body with its silver streaks glittering in the bright light of the Viridian Gym.


Lance was fighting hand to hand now, and he had to watch it. He didn’t know how many people they had in reserve, so he couldn’t afford to get too beat up. Left, right, block. He dodged a punch, then brought up his left foot and slammed it into his opponent’s knee. As the Rocket instinctively bent down, Lance’s foot came up, and the man groaned his protest at what Lance had chosen for its target. With a final sucker punch to the gut, the man went down.


Lance had no time for victory, as he was immediately grabbed from behind. Acting on pure instinct, the Champion of the Indigo League grabbed the man’s head, and hauled him over his shoulder, and onto the ground. The Dragon Trainer reached for one of the Rocket’s hands, and jerked it behind the man’s back, while keeping a knee on the man’s back. With his left hand, he reached into a pocket for some handcuffs, and put it onto the man’s hand, and reached for the other one. He had just grabbed it when a Charmeleon dropped onto his back, slamming him onto the ground. Lance rolled over, and raised a hand to punch the fire type, when a burst of water spread over him. It was from his water dragon, Draqua, who, not very good at battling, had been circling the top airspace of the gym with its enormous twenty-five foot wingspan, and lending a hand wherever she could.


Lance rolled to his left, content to let his dragon handle it, and almost rolled right into his Tundramon. An ice dragon, it was a Pokemon he had captured in the Ski Resort country of Nuschantz. Its light blue scales glittered as it turned to confront a threat to Lance, who took cover under her silver-white wings for just a moment. This particular Tundramon had brown feet, not Blue or Black, which meant that while it may have been a superbly strong battler, it would never have been accepted by any of its own species. Tundramon have looked down upon the brown-footed ice dragons, and he doubted anything would change that.


Lance darted away, and tackled a Rocket who was about to fire his gun at Lance’s Arachnadrago, a prize he had captured on a trip in the dense forests north of Pewter City, was very small, like all of his species. His Bug Dragon, hued a very bright red, was speckled with brown and black spots, and a purple head with a dull green topknot. Its small tail whipped over Lance’s head a second after he was down, and slammed into a nearby Fearow.


From elsewhere, came frightened screams, and as Lance punched the Rocket in the jaw, he heard many of them calling for surrender, a cry that was soon taken up by all the Rockets in the gym. Lance stood up and dusted himself off, and looked at Karen, who was grinning stupidly at him. he gave her a mock salute, which she returned. Exhausted, bruised, and bleeding in a half dozen places, he looked around as his team landed. It was odd, he thought to himself, that only two of his Pokemon would be recognized by the average Kantan trainer, but his edge of type advantages he wouldn’t otherwise would have had was what kept him in business, and was why he was still the champion.



Lance stood in the front of a TV studio in Goldenrod City, the rest of the Elite Four flanking him, looking at a news reporter who was looking decidedly excited. And why shouldn’t she be? Not only was this her first real broadcast, she was about to announce the biggest news that she would probably ever report in her life. Out of the corner of his eye on his left, he could see Lorelei, standing with a firmness in her posture that hadn’t been there for years. He had been impressed with Erika’s report on the battle, and Lorelei’s effectiveness. Behind him he could smell Karen’s perfume behind him and slightly to his right. She was the only one that hadn’t told him about her battle. He had been there, of course, but she had been out of sight for most of the time. Bruno, he could barely see on his right, was still wearing his garish outfit from before, and looked very much the worse for wear. According to Erika, he had tried taking on three powerful rockets by himself, and had lost miserably. Agatha’s raspy breathing could be heard from behind him, and slightly to his left. Erika had said that she had, to quote the Celadon Gym Leader, “Kicked a lot of Rocket derriere with that cane of hers.” The young woman anchor looked at Lance again, as if for assurance that she’d do a good job, and Lance smiled and nodded encouragingly. She took a deep breath and smiled at him, then composed herself for the upcoming news report.

Lance had traveled all the way to New Bark Town for this announcement, but felt that it would be worth it. He was going to watch JNN, or the Johto News Network, broadcast the first mention of the capture. JNN was one of the most widely viewed TV networks anywhere, and Lance had let them in on the secret first.

“This is JNN breaking news,” the recorded voice that Lance had come to know so well said, along with the musical chime. The woman took a deep breath, then smiled as the red light on top of the camera indicating that the camera was recording turned on. “Ladies and Gentlemen.” She opened her mouth to continue, then looked down at the desk, where she had her hands folded in front of her. She looked up, a jubilant grin on her face, “We are pleased to announce that Giovanni, former head of Team Rocket was caught just hours ago by Agatha, Lorelei, and Bruno of the Elite Four, and Erika, gym leader of Celadon City.”

Lance smiled, and knew that it wouldn’t be long before the rest of the news networks got this information, and knew that even now his press secretary was calling a press conference to confirm JNN’s story. It was the way of the press to flock to anything that smelled even remotely like a story, and chase it until it bore fruit. Still, there wasn’t anything left for him to do here. Lance turned and caught the eyes of his fellow Elites. He nodded and gestured towards the door, and they all left the studio. “Well,” Karen said as soon as the door shut behind them, “Now the world knows.”

Lorelei nodded, “Now they know.”

Agatha coughed, and said, “Lance, sonny, you better organize a Kantan militia.”

Bruno looked at the old woman in shock, “Agatha, why would he want to do that? We just beat Team Rocket, both here and in Johto. Their power base is completely gone, and I doubt that there are many members left in the world at large.”

Agatha shuffled along beside Lance, using her cane for support. “How little you know of the way things are,” she muttered, “Team Rocket is but one face of many. Besides, once the other Rocket groups hear once we’ve done, they’ll come back here to Kanto to try and wreak revenge on us. It would only be prudent to have a little something waiting for them.”

Bruno digested this, then a thought occurred to him. He looked at Agatha, who was walking ahead of him, with a puzzled expression on his face, “Huh? What do you mean, Team Rocket is one of many?”

Agatha turned around, and rolled her eyes. “Team Rocket, Team Magma, Team Aqua. Those were the three major gangs in the world, at least last week. Would you agree?”

Bruno nodded cautiously, “Go on,” he said, her gaze fixed on Agatha.

“Team Rocket is not the criminal mastermind that you thought it was.” Agatha said, then paused to cough and catch her breath again. “I’m old, but I’ve seen a thing or two in my time. And one of those things was that when I traveled around the world, even farther than Lance here, there was always a gang that oppressed people, or warred against each other. Wherever I went, there was always something more. Something,” she coughed again, “Something that oppressed people. There were many teams, but there can only be one root. One parent that all the gangs around the world cling to. Whether it’s Team Magma, Team Rocket, Team Blizzard, Team Ivy or whatever their name is, there will always be another gang to take the place of another.”

Lance bit his lip. What Agatha said was confirming his worst fears. He had noticed the discrepancy in his travels as well, and by Karen’s downcast head, he was pretty sure that she had as well. Only Bruno and Lorelei, who hadn’t traveled that much in their lifetime, and were still relatively young, had no idea that this was coming.

Lance was already calculating what to say in his speech when he asked for a Kantan Militia, and who to ask to lead it. Surge could be a commander of the Vermillion Militia, but Erika, Misty, and Brock probably wouldn't know the first thing about warfare. Sabrina and Koga, however, were other matters entirely. Blaine could help a little, but he was getting a little old.

”There’s a bit of poetry about this kind of thing I read a while back,” Karen said quietly, and Lance could just imagine Bruno rolling his eyes, as he knew he was. “It went something like this. “[i]Raiders of darkness,[/i]” Karen began to recite,
“[i]Marauders of light.
There are those that make a big mess,
With the opposition worsening the blight.

War never solved anything

That couldn’t have been solved

By hearing love sing

That all their differences could have been absolved.
Instead forever and always they shall clash,
yet never above the other rise.
Over this world they eternally shall hash,
until once more the Titans shall rise.[/i]”

Lance looked at her, stunned that she knew that poem, “That was written by Devon Harding,” he began, and Karen’s genuine smile gave him butterflies in his stomach.

“It was a poem called ‘The Time of the Titans.’” Karen finished. Lance stared at her, stunned. Devon Harding had been an Altan warrior in the Gerahid era, but most people didn’t realize that she also wrote poetry, mainly with a morbid theme. Most concerned the end of the world. This one told of the struggle between good and evil, and was read at the graduation of many military students in Tintia.

“That’s….” Lance stared at her, “I didn’t realize you dabbled in Altan poetry.”

Karen shrugged, “They wrote the best poems, histories, and other things of that sort of that era. Why shouldn’t I read her poems? They’re the best of the best of the Gerahiddian era.” Lance’s gaze met Karen’s and for a moment, Lance was captivated by her eyes. They were brown, he noticed, with flecks of brown in them. They were….beautiful.

“PLEASE!” Bruno shouted, getting glares from various people working in the studio, and Lance looked away from Karen, blushing slightly. Only Agatha caught this small movement, and she smiled slyly, “You can’t tell me that some girl that lived a long time ago knew anything about the end of the world! I mean, what could she know about that sort of thing?”

“She was one of the brightest minds in that time,” Lance offered, “She studied mythology, history, languages of the world, science—you name it, she studied it.”

Karen’s face brightened, and Lance could tell that this was one of her favorite subjects, “Of course, she also loved to write. Up to about a year before her mysterious death in a strange battle in Tintia, she kept a very detailed diary about her life.”

“Right,” Lance put in, pushing open the door and walking out into the bustling street of Goldenrod City, “One of the focal points of her books was her crush on Gerahid.”

Bruno rolled his eyes, “Okay, okay, so some chick—“ the three women in the group glared at him, but he didn’t seem to notice, “That wrote love poems knows so much about the end of the world?” he shook his head, “Sorry, man, but I’m not buying it.”

Lance put his arm around Bruno and grinned, “Ah, don’t worry about it, Bruno, you don’t have to buy it, you’re just buying us dinner!”

Bruno groaned, “Is it too late to say that I buy the chick’s poem now?”

Agatha laughed, a harsh, cruel laugh, “Yes, Bruno. It is indeed too late.” Suddenly Bruno found the top of his head hurting, and he raised his hands to his head, “And always remember,” she said in her scratchy tone, “I am NOT a chick.” She chuckled dryly, “I’m more like an old hen by now.”

Lorelei, Lance, and Karen laughed, but Bruno looked uncomfortable. “Oh, come on, Bruno, it can’t be that bad.” Lorelei said in a light tone, “I mean, you get to make it up to her by buying us ALL dinner at the most expensive place we can find.”

Bruno groaned again, “Somehow that doesn’t make me feel any better.”

Karen grinned, “Excuse me, did my ears deceive me?” she chuckled, “I believe that my colleague said that it was to make up to Agatha, not make you feel better.”

Lance put his arm around Bruno, “Come on, man,” he said, “It’s not that bad. I’ll tell you what. You take Agatha, and I’ll take Lorelei and Karen.”

He was only half serious, and saw that Karen looked startled for a second, before she realized he wasn’t serious. Lance felt a lump in his throat as he looked at Karen. He looked away, and in his peripheral vision, he saw Karen do the same. No. Now was not the time to be thinking thoughts like that.

Lorelei, Bruno, and Agatha walked ahead of them, and Lance and Karen fell behind them. For one brief moment, they looked at each other. Really looked at each other. Lance looked into her eyes. It was like looking into the eye of a hurricane. Her emotions seemed to swirl around in her eyes. And as they held each other’s gaze, it seemed as though a part of her that had been closed for a long time was being opened up for fresh air.

“Hey!” it was Bruno’s voice, “You guys coming or what?” his head was poked out the doorway of one of Goldenrod’s most prestigious restaurants, “If you don’t come in soon, I’m not paying for you!”

Then, suddenly, whatever had opened inside of Karen slammed back shut, just that quickly. Karen blushed, and turned away, “I’m coming!” she called, hurrying towards the restaurant, “We were just, uh, talking.”

Lance’s gaze followed her after she entered the diner. Yes. They had been talking. But not with their mouths. It was as if some sort of telepathy had taken place. But they would talk in the normal fashion. And soon. For a long time. Lance would make sure of it.

Engara. If you asked a random person on the streets of Celadon City, they wouldn’t know where to begin to look for it on an unlabeled map. Seven out of ten people in Kanto and Johto haven’t even heard the slightest hint of any suggestion of Engara’s name in their life. Yet it is the second most powerful nation in terms of military strength in the world, just ahead of Neragosh, and just behind Tintia. Its corporations and organizations span the entire globe. There isn’t a major city in the world that Engara doesn’t have active or passive operatives inside its borders. There’s not a country in the world that some gang of Engaran origin isn’t operating in. Whether you’re talking about Team Rocket, Team Aqua, Team Magma, Team Ivy, Team Terra, Team Blizzard, Team Aero, or Team Vengeance, the Engaran Special Forces Corps, or even some of the other gangs that populate the world, most have an Engaran origin or at least Engaran financial backing.

The Engaran military machine is second only to Tintia’s, but Engara’s spy net and Special Operations are second to none. From simple espionage to the most complex sabotage, the Engarans are the best, toughest, meanest bunch of bullies ever to have come out to the sand box of life. The only thing that’s keeping them from bullying around the comparatively weaker countries is the country of Tintia. To understand the blood feud between Engara and Tintia, it is necessary to go back to the beginning of both countries.

Hundreds of years ago, the North-western hemisphere of this world of Pokémon was controlled by a ruthless leader known only to history as Stephen the Pillar, although Pokémon and Tintians call him Stephen the Butcher. Stephen had a religious dislike of Pokémon, and instituted a crusade against them, with the sole intent of wiping them out. Forever.

The inhabitants of an island chain west of the focal point of Stephen the Pillar’s rule backed him whole-heartedly, and provided the bulk of the troops for the invasion. As a result, Stephen treated them well, and gave them the tart in life they needed by receiving the bulk of the new manufacturing facilities, as well as playing home base to Stephen’s mighty fleet of warships.

Back on the mainland, however, the crusade, though some might call it a Jihad, was not going so well. What began as a small band of peasants revolting against Stephen because of his crusade had erupted like wild fire to a full-blown civil war. Pokémon and humans fought side by side against a human only army. Towns were torn apart as Stephen demanded religious subjugation of Pokemon, but many refused. And those that refused faced the wrath of Stephen the Pillar.

For one hundred years, the war raged, until Stephen the Pillar and all of his sons were finally killed. The rebels, who came to be known as Tintians, splintered into four groups, and each group claimed one fourth of the territory they had taken from Stephen the Pillar, who hadcome to be known as Stephen the Butcher because of massacres he instituted to rid himself of rebels and Pokemon. The first group, the true Tintians, claimed an out-of-the way corner of the continent where the legendary grass type Gratomere held sway over the entire region. Gratomere made the proud dragons work for him, and fight in his armies. With the armies that were still mustered from their part of the old Pillaric territory, they marched in and conquered Gratomere, but never managed to defeat him. Instead, he was banished to what became known as the Dank Forest—a large forest, then much larger then than it is now.

Tintians freed the dragons, and, in return, the Dragons offered their support and the advice to never, under any circumstances, to land on Dark Isle. Dark Isle was a dark, forbidding place. A former volcano, it is a barren and desolate place, where only the strong survive to find food, never mind survive indefinitely. Making the best of what they had, the Tintians knew and believed that the best defense is the best offense. Their military grew to be the largest in the world. Yet they decided to stay out of world politics, and concentrate on their own beeswax.

The other three territories, which came to be Janera, Johto, and Kanto, fought amongst themselves in petty squabbles, until Kanto and Johto allied together and fought against Janera. Finally, after too many of their men were dying in battle, Johto, Kanto, and Janera agreed on a system of war that was both civilized, and minimized the losses of life. One person, in command of a miniature army of Pokémon, would fight another person, who was in command of another miniature army of Pokémon. Whoever won the battle would receive prestige, and his country more honor, and influence, because when he won, he won for his country. This is where the ancient art of Pokémon training has its roots.

The Engarans, however, already had an elaborate spy net set up, and was watching all these events with greater and greater anticipation. Unbeknownst to most history scholars, just when the fighting between Janera, Johto, and Kanto was the fiercest, the Engarans launched an assault on them, citing religious reasons. It would have worked, if they hadn’t overlooked one tiny problem. As a landing point, they chose Tintia.

Tintians had always been a very xenophobic country after the defeat of the Pillar, but the appearance of thousands of Engaran troops sent their army into motion. In less than a single day, the Engaran invasion force had been destroyed. The entire fleet was sunk by aquatic and avian Pokémon. The entire invasion force wiped out by a combination of human ingenuity and Pokémon power. It didn’t take long for the Engarans to see the light and start deploying Pokémon along with their men, despite some religious leader’s contentions to the contrary. Engarans are famous for holding grudges. This is one grudge that they have never forgotten. It is unlikely they ever will.

To this day the conflict still stands. Engaran versus Tintian, man against Pokemon. It is almost amusing in a way. Two huge military powers, each with enormous armies, yet neither of them will commit to a slugging match. With one large exception. The single case of what anyone would call war happened at the end of the Gerahiddian era. They mounted a HUGE offensive, and invaded Tintia. The battle raged for a week, but the Tintians finally won, after a tremendous loss of life. Historians of that time period are not clear about the details of that battle, but it is widely known that Gerahid, the greatest general Tintia ever knew died that day, along with Devon Harding, a well-known Altan warrior, poet, and amateur historian. Ever since then, Engara has been content to take pot shots at Tintia through raids every few months, more to test their defenses than anything else. Although historians warn that Engara is due to try something major soon, most people either ignore the news or pretend they didn’t hear.


But in the near future, they would wish they had. Deep in the bowels of the Engaran archipelago lies the Engaran Central Military Command building. Inside the building, down two levels, and east to Gamma sector lies the headquarters of the Engaran Special Forces Unit, the back-bone of the Engaran Army’s power.

The director, who never gives out his name, wears only a simple black suit, and only appears to brief the top agents on the most important missions. He sits behind a simple wooden desk with thin sheets of paper on top of it. Nobody that worked in Gamma Sector was quite sure what he really did, and no one had the courage to ask him.

“Peters,” he was saying to one of his agents who had just come from three days of exhaustive debriefing, “I’m sure you understand the security risks that Giovanni places to Engara. He knows too much about us. I want him eliminated before he causes us trouble. Is that clear?” he asked, looking at the agent in front of him.

“Crystal, sir.” The woman said, staring straight ahead, with military precise posture.

“Also, The Elite Four are getting to be a problem. They’ll be able to break our plans down if they’re still around. While you’re there, will you also activate the sleeper Elite? I would really appreciate it.”

Other than a slight glimmer of eagerness in the woman’s eyes, there was no change in her expression. “Sir yes sir, it will be done sir.” She said with military efficiency.

“Then what is your mission?” he asked, “Repeat it to me.”

“Eliminate Giovanni, activate Sleeper Elite. Avoid being detected, sir.” The woman said smoothly, emotionlessly.

The man nodded, “You have it.” He leaned forwards, “I want this to be clear, Peters, we can have no mistakes.”

The woman nodded slightly, “I understand. There will be none. Giovanni will be dead within seventy-two hours. The sleeper will be activated slightly after that.”

The man nodded, “Very good, then. We have just over a month before Operation: Celebi begins in earnest.” He leaned forwards again, “The invasion of Kanto must take place in exactly one month, or all our plans will be for naught.”

The Engaran Special Agent looked him in the eye, “Everything will be ready by then, sir. I stake my life on it.”

The man in the black suit smiles faintly, “Oh, you are, Peters, make no mistake of that. You most certainly are. Remember, everything is running on a very tight schedule. There is no time for playing cowboy this time. Dismissed.”

With a curt nod, the woman got up, and sauntered out of the room, on a mission that no other could perform. There was only one who could activate the sleeper Elite. There were few who imagined the power held within the Elite. There were few, indeed, that knew that the Elite was a sleeper. A sleeper that held sheer, raw power. No one else could imagine it. No one else had embraced it as she had. No one else…could control the sheer power of a near legendary Pokémon genetically engineered for its power.

Nobody. And that went doubly for Kantan scum who had no idea of what a real fight was like. The woman’s features turned into a smile, but it was more like an evil grimace than anything else. No one would know, no one would expect what would come next. It would come out of nowhere and throw them into disarray.

Soon, very soon, the Engarans could finally begin wreaking revenge upon their age-old enemies. Soon, very soon, many things in this world would change. Forever.