Author's Note: Okay, this idea started off as a joke and was never meant to go past that. However, like some ideas, it just didn't go away. And as I continued to think about it, it seemed like it actually had some potential to be cool, even if it is silly and stupid. So here it is. Please don't kill me....

Oh, and this format is sort of experimental (at least to me). Some parts are written in first person, but interludes where the hero isn't present will be written in the standard third person. I got the idea from a certain comic book that obviously had some influence on this story.

The Spectacular Ariados-Man

            Ariados aren't really used that often by trainers. They're not that powerful and can rarely cut it in important matches. Trainers just don't take the spider-like Pokémon seriously. Plus, let's face it, they're kinda creepy. But I've really come to see that this is a mistake. A big one.

            My name is Ben Gallo. I'm a 17 year old trainer from Goldenrod City. I got a few badges and I've been to a few leagues, but I've never been honored as a Champion (hell, I couldn't beat any of the Orange Island leaders). Most of my Pokémon aren't even fully evolved. But I'm far from your average trainer.

            Now that I think about it, this is probably why I think Ariados are creepy. My family and I were camping in the Johto National Park one of the times I came back home to visit, and I went on a late night nature walk. I was just minding my own business, when a wild Ariados dropped from a tree and right into my path. The bug screeched at me and was foaming slightly at the mouth. It slowly stalked toward me as if it were going to attack.

            I wasn't really sure what to make of this because Ariados are usually 1) very rare, 2) very calm and friendly, and 3) red, yellow and black. This one had a different, brighter coloration.

            I slowly backed away, but the Ariados still came at me, running at some points and closing the distance faster than I would've liked. Finally, I reached for one of my pokéballs, and that set the mad spider off. It pounced on me, knocking me to the ground. It bit and clawed at me while hitting me with blasts of its Night Shade.

            I only survived by releasing Hedwig, my Hoothoot (now a Noctowl). Hedwig chased the bug off into the woods, and I passed out. The next thing I know, I'm in the hospital and the doctor is telling me that I'm very lucky to be alive. As if I didn't already know that!

            Well, not too long after I get out of the hospital and back on my journey, I find that the attack had some rather interesting effects on me. Namely, I can do almost anything an Ariados can. I'm extremely agile and can stick to walls. I can shoot webbing and Night Shade blasts from my hands. And I've become a low level psychic, allowing me to sense people coming from behind me and other neat things.

            I'm a lot stronger than I used to be too. I can lift a van or small truck off its front or back wheels, but I can't throw them or anything. I got retractable talons on each of my finger tips, which I can use as weapons or to cling to a particularly slick surface. I got other powers too, but I'd rather let you find 'em out as you go along. It's kinda boring if I tell to you all at once.

            There are a couple of negative effects too. Namely fear of being eaten whenever I see a bird Pokémon and the occasional craving for Ledyba and Weedle.

            Of course, this all freaked me out when I found out about it. I kept trying to pinch myself to wake up. (Which is how I found out about my talons. Ow!) But after the shock wore off, I found out how awesome this was!! And since my parents installed a strong sense of morales in me (no drugs, no sex blah, blah), I of course decided to use my powers to do the right thing. Namely, kick some bad guy ass!

            And thus, the Spectacular Ariados-Man was born! (Ain't I humble?)

            I stayed on my journey as a trainer because it helped keep my identity secret. If Ariados-Man shows up in different cities, he could be any trainer. But if I decided to go home and Ariados-Man was mostly based in Goldenrod, anyone who knew about my bite could figure it out. Plus I can do a lot more good by ridding evil from all the cities I can.

            Anyhow, for this adventure, I was in Kanto's Viridian City, specifically in front of the gym, waiting to hear a speech from Giovanni, my hero. After disappearing for three years, he's come back and has called a big press conference outside the gym.

            Why is Giovanni my hero? He's only the coolest gym leader ever! Not only are his Pokémon super-powerful, but he's got a great strategic mind. He kicked my butt into next week, but was real nice about it. He even offered to help me train. Not a day goes by that I don't kick myself for not accepting. Too damn star struck.

            As I waited impatiently for my idol to come on the stage that had been set up in front of the gym, I was jabbed in the ribs. I turned around and smacked Harry Riffington on the back of the head. Harry was my best friend, and rival on my half-assed quest. Needless to say, he always beat the crap out of me since his Pokémon were fully evolved. He was the current Johto Champ and was with me in Kanto to conquer their league too.

            "Just as I thought," I said, "hallow."

            "Yeah, that line just keeps getting funnier and funnier," Harry said, rolling his eyes. "You gonna ask for Giovanni's autograph, fan-girl?"

            "If I get the chance," I said looking at my watch. "And stop calling me that!"

            Harry laughed. "Well, I gotta go. My Dad's in Viridian on business, so I wanna see if we can get lunch or something. Hardly get to see him since Mom died."

            As he said this, Harry grew really sad, and I'm not sure, but I think I felt a pang of hatred coming from him. I'm still getting used to my psychic powers, and sometimes I get the signals crossed.

            "All right man," I said. "I'll catch you later. And remember, if you ever wanna talk..."

            "Yeah, I know, Ben," he said grasping my hand firmly in our version of a handshake, something we made up when were both ten. "I appreciate that."

            We shook one more time before he walked off. Again, I swear I felt a surge of anger and malice, but didn't have time to give it much thought because soon Giovanni took the stage, gaining my full attention.

            The former gym leader waited for the crowd to settle down. He waited a bit longer to create a dramatic pause, then spoke:

            "Three years ago, all of my Pokémon knew Frustration. And with that move, they were nearly unbeatable. It didn't matter to me that it meant that the creatures hated me with every fiber of their being. All that mattered to me was that they were powerful. Nothing else mattered to me except that they allowed me to hold my position as the most feared and respected gym leader.

            "And on the eve of those three years, I was challenged by a young trainer for the Earth Badge. He nearly lost. His Pokémon, despite their level and power, couldn't stand against my Pokémon's Frustration. The boy was upset at the way the battle was going, but did not give up. And did not let his Pokémon faint. He cared about them. And as his Exeggutor refused to be recalled. Refused to let its trainer down. It returned his love. And then destroyed me with the Return attack."

            Giovanni paused, letting his speech sink in. I was amazed. Indeed, he was a different man from what I remembered. He seemed...humbled.

            After the pause, my idol continued. "That boy, he made me see that not only was I a despicable trainer, but an utterly despicable human being. As the ruthless business man, I put several good people out of work with my hostile takeovers. I was a womanizer. I drank. I treated my employees like dirt unfit for Diglett."

            I looked away from the podium when I accidentally caught a straw thought from the crowd. ~Wait for the signal...~

            I looked to the side and saw a man dressed in a long, closed trench coat. "Weird," I mumbled. "Middle of summer. Why's he wearing a coat?"

            Then I noticed several more people dressed like that throughout the crowd. And then I noticed that they all wore black masks to hide their faces.

            Not good, I thought. Why today of all days?

            "That's why today," Giovanni said, drawing my attention back to his speech, "I'm announcing the creation of the Team Galaxy Foundation. With it, I hope to create jobs, build more shelters and soup kitchens, and bring hope back to Kanto. Maybe soon, I'll make up for the sins of my past--"

            ~NOW!!~

            I barely had time to process the thought I heard before all the masked men threw off their coats, revealing themselves to be...

            "Rockets!" I exclaimed. I cursed and started to look for a secluded place.

            "Everybody freeze!" one of the Rockets shouted. "Hand over all your pokéballs and valuables and no one will get hurt. Seriously."

            My anger grew when I noticed some of the henchmen rush the stage and capture the shocked and enraged Giovanni. Fortunately, a near riot ensued in the panic, making the slip all the easier. Finally, I went into the forest, not to far from the gym and climbed a tree. There I changed into my working clothes.

            My costume is simple, but really cool (and least that's what I keep telling myself). It's basically a red, skin tight, spandex body suit with Ariados colors and patterns in certain places. The mask, witch covers my whole face, has two large, round, purple lens for me to see out of. On my waist I wear a silver utility belt and on my wrists silver bands that hide all sorts of neat Ariados tricks that I didn't get through the attack. So far, all it has is a "Poison Sting" launcher, but I'm working on it. I keep my pokéballs hidden in my belt. I only use my Pokémon as Ariados-Man in emergencies to help keep my identity secret. How does that work, you ask?

            "Say, both that super-hero and that loser trainer have a Noctowl. I wonder..."

            See what I mean?

            Anyway, once I was dressed, I made it back to the confusion with some Ariados-powered jumps, shouting. "Team Rocket about to get trounced at the speed of light! You punks should surrender now, 'cause you'll sure as hell lose the fight!"

            "It's Spinarak-Guy!" one of the rockets exclaimed, right before I zapped him with a blast of black light from my hand.

            "Oh, come on!" I said, kicking another rocket. "I've saved the world several times over! Pal of the world! Least you could do is get my name right! It's Ariados-Man! Here, I'll spell it out for ya: A!"

            I webbed a group of three Rockets to a tree with my organic, thin-but-strong webbing.

            "R!"

            I punched a Rocket in the nose, probably breaking it.

            "I!"

***

            Meanwhile...

            "I demand to know the meaning of this!" Giovanni demanded as the small group of Rockets struggled to pull him into the Viridian gym.

            "Relax, sir," one Rocket said. "You'll be back in charge soon enough. Of course it'll be quicker if you stop thrashing!"

            "I already told you, freaks!" Giovanni exclaimed. "If you want to keep Team Rocket going, fine! But leave me out of it! I'm done!"

            "You make sound as if you have a choice, sir."

***

            "N!"

            With a bolt of psychic energy, I disabled the last grunt as he took aim at me with some sort of rifle. I looked around. The crowd was gone, which I was thankful for, and I saw Giovanni being forced into the gym.

            While I found that odd, I leapt over there without a second thought. I had just landed a few feet from the door, when one of the Rockets came back out, obviously hoping to stop me.

            "Go, Tyranitar!" he shouted, throwing a grey heavy ball.

            "Oh no," I said as the huge dinosaur appeared and immediately tried to crush me. I was able to dodge everything, being much faster and more agile than the beast, but all my offensive moves didn't do jack! Kicks only hurt my feet and my Night Shade didn't even seem to tickle!

            "Heh," the Rocket laughed. "Imagine, the great Ariados-Man beaten by a regular old Tyranitar! My Tyranitar!"

            "Not likely, my friend!" I countered as my talons ripped through my gloves (I need to find a better way to use those things that won't ruin my suit). I leapt behind the deformed dino and stuck both sets in the back of its head. I then began to drain away the Tyranitar's strength into myself, healing all the little cuts and bruises I got during the battle.

            "Now then," I said as I stood up and the Pokémon fainted, "I think you and I need to have a little talk."

            He tried to run, of course, but I was already on him. With one hand I held him against the gym wall, and with the other, I let him get a real good look at my talons.

            "Sing, Pidgey," I said coldly.

            Man, did he ever! He was in tears by the time I webbed him up for the local Jenny. He told me that they were taking Giovanni to a hidden Team Rocket complex under the gym, but he didn't know why. In fact, he seemed really confused as to why Team Rocket would even want Giovanni.

            I went into the gym, and found that the stupid grunts had left the entrance to the complex wide open. I went in, keeping my psychic senses open, hoping to detect any traps. There were no traps, but I did find a big room full of at least twenty fresh Rockets.

            "Impossible!" one shouted as I dropped from the ceiling, landing on one of his pals. "How did he...?"

            "Oh come on!" shouted as I continued to kick some serious Rocket butt. "You're talking about the guy who took on the Fearow and Doctor Octillery! The guy's whose punch staggered the Rhydon! What chance do you losers have?"

***

            In another part of the complex:

            "Sir!" a Rocket shouted as he burst into the room. "Ariados-Man has penetrated our defenses!"

            "Really?" the figure said, smiling. "That's great!"

            "...Sir?"

            The figure laughed, pulling on a mask. "I was hoping we'd meet again, him and I. Make sure he finds his way to our prisoner clear of interference. Then leave everything to me."

            "Yes, sir," the rocket said, obviously confused. "Whatever you say."

***

            After that last batch of Rockets, I found it was clear sailing. I bounced through the place, following a faint thought pattern that I hoped was Giovanni's.

            "I don't like this," I said as I bounced around another corner. "This is too easy..."

            Then I felt the presence and heard the voice. The voice I was hoping I'd never have to hear again.

            "You were always a smart one, bug boy!"

            Slowly, I turned to face my opponent. "No," I muttered. "Not you. Not..."

            "Yes, it's me!" he replied from his jet glider. "Once again, you face the Green Gengar!"

            Don't ask me to try and describe this clown's get up. Basically, he's in a suit that looks like a Gengar, only bright green (duh). It somehow makes him look ridiculous and dangerous at the same time. He likes to ride around on a jet glider that sorta looks like a Crobat.

            "Shoulda guessed that you'd be working with TR now," I said as I leapt over a "Thunderbolt" coming from Double G's gloves. "Among these wimps is probably the only place you can feel tough."

            "Still hiding your emotions, web-head?" Gengar asked as he threw a black orb, which I also dodged. Barley. It exploded on one of the walls. "Why don't you just admit that you're afraid of me?!"

            He was right, but I wasn't about to tell him that. "Okay Greeny, I'll admit that you're tough. I've never been beaten by the baddies, but you've come pretty close. Now why don't you tell me what you freaks want with Giovanni!"

            "Better yet!" he said, grinning like an idiot, "I'll show you!"

            He grabbed me by the neck when I was expecting him to zap me, and then jetted through the joint, stopping suddenly at a set of double doors, letting me go and crash through. I landed hard, and at the feet of my hero.

            Giovanni was tied to a chair and his mouth gagged. Despite this however, he looked enraged. As if by doing this to him, Team Rocket had incurred the wrath of God.

            "You see, Giovanni was telling the truth in his little speech earlier," Green Gengar said as I slowly got up, my eyes on Giovanni and my psychics on Greeny. "He was a very bad man. He's the one who founded Team Rocket years ago."

            "What?!" I exclaimed, spinning around to face the costumed freak.

            "Team Rocket is his creation, and under his command, it was literally the most powerful organization on the planet." Greeny then frowned. "Unfortunately, his great mind and ego suffered a serious blow when our entire operation was thrown off by a single trainer. A brat by the name of Red. We intended to restore him to his former glory."

            Giovanni fought hard against his bonds, glaring at Greeny. I could half make out his muffled curses and the thoughts I caught made me want to scrub his mind with soap.

            "Even if we have to force it down his throat," Greeny said, grinning again.

            "Well, you know I'm gonna have to stop you," I said, blasting GG with my Night Shade, but he dodged and began hurling black spheres again. Sensing he would do this I was already dodging, but there were so damn many of them! When I tried to hit him with another Night Shade, I set off one of the spheres right in front of me. It exploded and I crashed hard into a wall. The Gengar laughed as I slowly slid to the floor.

            "Like my new and improved Shadow Balls?" he asked, grinning. "In our last battle, I noticed you always knew what I was going to do, sometimes before I did it seemed. I didn't need to be psychic to know that you were. So I came up with a way to numb your extra senses."

            He was right. My psychic powers were gone. I couldn't feel anything except with my hands. "Not good," I muttered as I tried to get up. My psychic senses are a big part of how I survived this long. I don't know if I can be Ariados-Man without them!

            While I was struggling, Greeny wasted no time, hitting me with electricity. Screaming in pain as I did, I reached into my belt and pulled out a few small purple spheres. I threw them, and they exploded right on GG's glider, sending him spiraling out of control. I jumped up and kicked him in the head. "High Jump Kick!" I exclaimed as I landed safely, and Greeny rolled onto the floor. The villain laughed as he got to his feet.

            "Not bad," he said. "Sludge Bomb, right?"

            "Yep," I said, trying desperately to get my senses to work again.

            "Well, let's see how you like my Confuse Ray!"

            A blast of white light shot from his glove, blinding me for half a second. After that, everything was out of wack. I couldn't tell which way was up. I heard Greeny laugh from behind me, but I saw him right in front of me. I jumped at him, knowing he probably wasn't there, but I didn't have anything else to go on. I crashed into the helpless Giovanni, knocking him down.

            "Sorry, sir," I said weakly as I climbed back up. That bastard! Not only did he take away my extra senses, but he made my normal ones worthless!

            Screaming, I began firing Night Shade totally at random. GG responded by laughing hysterically, and then cursing when I scored a hit. And judging by how loud he was cursing, I hit something important.

            This time, I headed in the opposite direction of where I saw Greeny, and landed right on top of him! Reluctantly, I snapped out my talons again and ripped through his costume to a patch of skin, hoping it was an arm. I then began to drain his life force.

            I hate doing that to other humans, even psychos like the Green Gengar. It's not what you'd call a pleasant experience. But I didn't have much choice. I was getting my butt kicked and I'd hardly touched him. This way, I could heal and score a much needed hit.

            Screaming in pain, GG finally managed to launch a Thunderbolt, sending me off. The good news though, was when I stood up, I could see and hear perfectly again. And when I saw the Gengar, I gasped.

            I hadn't shredded his suit's arm, I had shredded the mask! And it was Harry! His face was scared an bleeding from my attack, but it was him!

            The Green Gengar, my toughest enemy to date, was my best friend!

            "Surprised?" he asked, peeling away what was left of the face covering. "Surprised to find that you're worst foe is only a boy?"

            "H-Harry?" I stammered out, despite myself.

            He looked confused. Then grinned. "Of course! Ben! I should've guessed! You told me all about your little encounter with the rabid Ariados."

            "Harry," I said calmly, "whatever's going on, we can work through it. I'm you're friend..."

            "I used to believe you!" Harry shouted. "But friends don't suck each other's life force, fan-girl!"

            "Harry, I didn't know it was you! And to be fair, you were trying to kill me."

            Harry looked confused, then screamed and again began throwing Shadow Balls, forcing me to start jumping around to avoid them. I had no idea what another dose of the chemicals would do to me. But while I was doing this, he hit me with what I think was his version of a Hyper Beam and I fell to the floor.

            "You don't understand, Ben," Harry said as he walked toward me. "Mom's death did something to Dad, and that did something to me."

            "I want to help you, Riff," I said, hoping that calling him by his nickname might bring him to his senses. "Tell me. What can I do?"

            "You can die," he said, charging another electric blast. "Our relationship has gotten just too confusing!"

            I didn't have any choice but reach into my belt and pull out a pokéball. Besides, it's not like keeping who I really was a secret mattered anymore. "Rock Muncher!" I called, throwing the sphere.

            My ever-loyal Pupitar emerged and took the electricity like nothing. It then slammed into Harry knocking him back. I quickly got to my feet, but I wasn't sure what I could do. I didn't want to hurt Harry. I've known him since before I can remember. The problem was, he wanted very much to kill me, and if I didn't do something, he would succeed.

            So I ran.

            "Come on, Rock Muncher!" I called, firing a web line onto the Pupitar and bouncing out the way I came. I knew I was leaving the man I came to rescue, but even if I wanted to fight, I was on my last leg. I never knew how much I depended on my psychics until they were gone.

            As I dragged Rock Muncher through the winding corridors, it started to shout in "Pokéspeak." Taking the risk, I looked over my shoulder, and saw Harry chasing after me on a more primitive version of his glider. He was gaining fast, and I could feel the hatred coming from him, even without my psychics. Yow!

            I tried to go faster, but my side was aching already. I felt I was going to pass out any second. No way I'd survive the fight.

            Rock Muncher must have known this, because it shouted something, and Pegus, my Ponyta popped out from my belt, materializing so that I landed on her back. By riding on Pegus, I increased the distance, but Harry began closing it again almost instantly.

            "I'm not going to make it out of this one," I whispered.

            Apparently, this was understood perfectly by Rock Muncher and Pegus. They glanced at each other, and Rock Muncher broke free from the webbing.

            "Muncher, NO!" I shouted as Pegus ran as fast as she could. I watched in horror as Rock Muncher again collided with Harry.

            And used Self Destruct.

            Pegus again increased her speed, barely keeping ahead of the fireball. Finally, we made it outside the gym, I fell off Pegus's back, and passed out.

            I bolted awake when I sensed a hand reaching for my mask. I quickly grabbed the person's hand, and looked around. A small crowd had formed around me. Pegus apparently had been keeping them at bay, but they had finally managed to contain her. I was pleased to see that the people holding her back were getting quite burned by her flames, but only because I was in a grumpy mood. I pushed the mask-grabber aside and called my Ponyta back into her ball.

            "How long was I out?" I demanded. "Someone tell me!"

            "Only about ten minutes," said Officer Jenny as she tried to push the crowd back. "Are you alright?"

            "Actually, I'm fine," I said, just realizing right then that not only was I somehow completely healed, but my psychic powers had come back! I felt my face to make sure my mask was in one peace. It was the only part of my costume that was.

            "Good," Jenny said. "Now can you tell me what's going on?"

            "Follow me!" I said, heading back into the gym and to the secret Rocket complex. I was not happy to find that it was evacuated. When I reached the large room where the bulk of my battle took place, I found it empty except for a note. It read:

            "Your Pupitar is dead, but I survived. Giovanni is still our prisoner, and will be until he dies of old age. You failed.

            Best wishes,

            The Green Gengar"

            "What happened?" Officer Jenny asked as she finally caught up with me. "Sir, could you please...?"

            I told her what I could without exposing Harry or Giovanni, but my mind was fifty miles away. My hero had been kidnaped, but I wasn't sure if he was a hero anymore. My worst enemy and best friend were one and the same. Rock Muncher was dead.

            And I had failed.

            I had failed them all.

***

Epilogue:

            Mahogany Town, Johto:

            "I'd be lying if I said I wasn't impressed, Riffington," Giovanni said as he walked around the office of another hidden Team Rocket complex. "Not only have you lead Team Rocket without me, but you seem to have done quite well for yourself."

            Harry smiled. He was now dressed in a suit similar to Giovanni's, but still wore the mask of his alter ego.  "Our Johto operations were ruined as well, but this time by a small band of three trainers. For whatever reason, they never bothered to report the location of our bases. And Harry Riffington never did much. As far as the men are concerned, he's only an executive. They take their orders from the Green Gengar."

            "Yes, my second in command," Giovanni sighed. "You're father was a good man. He didn't deserve to die like that. I don't think I'll ever forgive myself for corrupting him and bringing him into this life."

            "You really have changed, Great Giovanni," Harry said, looking at the former Rocket leader thoughtfully. "But I'll restore you to your former greatness. You don't fool me. Part of you still hungers for this life. Hungers to be God to these men once more. It's part of you. You may as well embrace it."

            With that, Harry turned and left the office, locking the door behind him.

            Giovanni walked slowly around, taking in the office. Finally, he sat down behind the desk and looked at what seemed to be a wall aquarium without water.

            "I'd rather die," he said coldly.

            At the utterance of those words, a savage, strangely colored Ariados leapt at the glass, trying to break free of its prison.