Disclaimer: I don't own Pokemon.

Author's Note: Since this dub season will cover Team Aqua/Magma's downfall, I wanted to speculate my musings on this as today is Pokemon's eighth season premiere. Note: I'm using the original dub names for Homura and Izumi, because the video game names are…horrendous and I enjoyed the spice 4Kids gave with them originally. Everything else will be all video game dub names.

Note, this is speculation only, and suppressing all spoilers I saw a year ago. My foggy brain is making me forget anyway. It should also be noted that I'm more knowledgeable on Team Magma than Aqua but I'm always up for a challenge.

Timeline: A few hours after the dub episode "Unfair Weather Friends".

Ready Go!

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It took a day to return as the helicopter dragged her and her team back to Lilycove City, their hands empty as they met failure in their mission.

'Another failure. And once Magma gains the upper hand. How do they do it?' The Tactical Commander and recently promoted Captain Isabel mused as she sunk deeper into the chair, she didn't even bother to glance to the change in the scenery.

'How is their success possible? We are superior with our Water types and we can match them in deception as we did with the Devon operation, so what is the missing equation? I don't dare wish to be believe we're getting to have Team Rocket's record. It defies the imagination to even think that.'

The intercom patched through and disrupted her thoughts. "Attention! Preparing to land! Preparing to land!"

She gave off a deep sigh. 'And now I have to report my failure to the Boss. Wonderful.'

"Captain?" A male voice broke the silence.

"Yes?" She saw that it was the agent that controlled the weather machine.

"Do you think the Boss will take it well?" He said unsure. She felt his hesitation.

"Of course he will. One thing Archie has in spades over the Boss of Team Magma and the Boss Rocket is a calm disposition."

"I'll take your word for it, ma'am. I never met the man."

"Well, you'll get your chance now. It was an important mission after all."

"Is that supposed to instill me with relief?" He deadpanned.

"No, you should consider it an honor. Archie has been a recluse lately with his research of the Red Orb. I'd count my lucky stars that he'd deign you audience, despite possible negative comment." She spoke with the same bravado she says to her enemies.

"I thought it was called the Rose Orb."

"Sadly, no. Even though that name would have made a lot more flair and sense."

"Can't have that, can we, ma'am?"

"At least one thing I'll say about the Johto and Kanto regions, at least they gave the flourish needed with their artifacts."

"Unlike Hoenn, eh?"

"Indeed." A slight rumble as the helicopter landed on a platform and the platform descended into the carved out cavernous base. Both Isabel and the agent stared out the porthole and saw Team Aqua agents rushing to and fro between the warehouses recently constructed, using their Pokemon to carry heavy duty machinery as klaxons were blaring. The Pokemon seem to rush to the enormous submarine, the trademark mode of transportation, docked on the elongated river of the hideout.

"Are we evacuating?" The agent asked.

"I don't know."

The intercom patched through. "Attention! Will Captain Isabel's team report to the Boss' office immediately? Will Captain Isabel's team report to the Boss' office immediately?"

"He doesn't waste anytime." The agent barbed.

"No, and we shouldn't keep him waiting."

"I hope he doesn't want us to jump out of the helicopter to report to him."

"I suggest you lose that attitude quickly, you don't treat the Boss like that." She glared at the Aqua agent.

"You saw me out in the field, I'm all business."

She remembered how professional he was as he operated the weather machine and tried to hack in the Weather Institute's computer system.

"I suppose." The platform finally descended and locked into place.

"You heard the intercom. Everyone move!" Isabel exclaimed to the agents inside the helicopter.

"Right!" They all shouted and quickly stampeded out of the helicopter.

"I am unsure about this." The agent said in trepidation.

"You worry too much."

"It keeps me healthy." He walked away from her.

'And paranoid.' She sneered as she slowly followed the agents.

'So if he's paranoid, what does that make me?' She suddenly felt butterflies floating in her stomach.

'Dead. Of course I could be over exaggerating and worrying over nothing, how bad can it be? He was fine over the misinformation that occurred in that shrine at Dewford Island, and I…helped foil the plans in Mt. Chimney. Yes, I'm an important part of the organization. His second in command. His top agent. I'll be fine.'

Her stomach continued to be nervous and trudged forth.

'And maybe I'll grow wings and fly over the moon.'

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"So, in conclusion, your report is that a Team Magma agent got the drop on you and escaped with the Weather Institute's data?" The Boss of Team Aqua known as Archie stared at his aquarium filled with all kinds of Water Pokemon as the agents genuflected behind him.

"Yes, sir. An agent named Brody. The man with the thousand faces." Isabel continued.

Archie growled. "So once again, Team Magma has the jump on us. Any post scripts to your report?"

"No, sir."

"I'm extremely disappointed in all of you, particularly you, Isabel. But…we must move forward, not back. Our spies in Lilycove have reported rumors that Mt. Pyre might have the elusive Red Orb. I'm preparing a mass evacuation to collect the orb before Team Magma has the same idea and end up storming our base. Along with the possibility of the Global Police, they've been getting closer to our plans lately."

'He found the Red Orb? I can't believe it. At least that damn orb is ours. I wouldn't have Harlan or my rancid luck if it wasn't for searching for that overrated jewel. I have to be there when we grab it.' "We're abandoning base?" Isabel blurted out.

"Yes, as much as it pains me, as this base has served us well but we will use the submarine as a mobile base while we move out. We just heard the rumors a day ago so you have time to collect your possessions but take only those of absolute necessity. Report to ops for assignment. Isabel, stay for a few minutes."

The agents departed while Isabel's stomach nearly collapsed on itself. The hacker agent looked at her with a gaze of pity and despair before he left.

"I'm most disappointed in you. I had such high hopes in you. The shrine at Dewford was one thing, that couldn't have been prevented but your failure to neutralize Team Magma at Mt. Chimney and now your failure at the Weather Institute has me greatly concerned. Particularly as I have been reading your Mt. Chimney report, as it has discrepancies compared to the other agents. Frankly, I am beginning to wonder if you can handle the job of being my vanguard anymore, both of these incidents are quite telling of your abilities." This concerned the Captain as she may have slightly fudged the report on Mt. Chimney as to explain her delay in stopping Magma and failing to secure the mountain.

"Sir? As for explain for Mt. Chimney, my failure to neutral Team Magma on the mountain was based from a tactical standpoint. We couldn't achieve the upper hand. But in the end, things become balanced as…"

"I have the other reports from other agents who were there. There was the Professor Cozmo and a child with a Pikachu that helped stopped Team Magma's machine while you and your team just remained in hiding."

'What! After I thought I order those fools to keep their mouths shut. The one in the helicopter afterwards, my assistant that day. He did question me on that. He must be the one who informed them.' She was devising ways to make the young agent suffer for his mistake, such as feeding him to the Sharpedos.

"Sir, those reports are exaggerations, maliciousness caused by agents trying to malign my character."

"If there was one or two who reported then I wouldn't believe them but your task force all say the same thing. When Team Magma defeated you, you fled and let a child do your work."

"Sir, there is such a thing as taking advantage of an opportunity. I thought both the professor and the child were malleable for our purposes. I…" The Captain's mind's gears were turning over this child with a Pikachu.

'That kid sounds familiar. Wait! He's also that brat I fought at the Institute!'

"Don't insult my intelligence. Part of our war with Team Magma is to show public examples to our counterpart, who dare to mock us with their pathetic crusade, the trappings of failure. And you failed to do that as it was part of your obligation as second in command. How do you explain this?"

"I—I didn't have the strength needed to push them back." She smoldered in her rage.

"And now you've been made the fool again. I should strip you down to Dan'in and make you clean up the tanks. But…A) I don't see a possible replacement for you for the time being. Especially now as I don't have the time to evaluate employees and B) since victory is within my grasp with the Red Orb, and I must focus all my attention to that, I can be forgiving and give you another chance with a very important sub mission, my second in command." Archie stroked his beard in rumination.

"How, sir?"

"The spies believe that the Cave of Origin may be near Sootopolis City, I need someone to go and scout to see if it is true and if Kyorge or Groudon are to be found there. Groudon, we can use as a bargaining chip for Team Magma and have them back off while we grab Kyorge. Since I can't spare any agents for this right now as we're evacuating for the Red Orb, I need someone of experience and tactical knowledge for this extraordinary task; hence the only one who can perform this task is you, my Captain."

"Permission to speak freely, sir?"

"Granted."

"Sir, I know of the Red Orb and I've wasted many man hours on trying to locate it and confirm and deny all the rumors, and I'd like to be there when we find it."

"Indeed, but I have been conducting my research on the artifact as you know, and I know how to differentiate the rumors but I need someone of your expertise for this quite important operation, I can't use anyone as you're still my best agent. And, Isabel, you'll have to prioritize and compartmentalize your personal feelings for the good of the outfit. As much as I would like you there in our moment of triumph, I can't. Not until we know the truth about the Cave of Origin and hit two birds with one stone as we shall operative simultaneously."

She hated his answer even though it was a valid one. "But, sir? Isn't this a suicide mission?" The setup seemed quite disconcerting for the Aqua agent.

"No. All you're doing is investigating, so the damage should be minimal, as the only threat will be the wild Pokemon you'll encounter there. Unless your Pokemon can't live up to the task as it was reported on Mt. Chimney." He smirked.

'Yes, play on the woman's sense of bravado. She'll be like putty.'

Her rage began to spike. "No, sir. My Pokemon are more than able to perform the task. Along with myself."

"Then go out and succeed and you'll get my amnesty. Now go."

"Yes, sir." Isabel bowed, got up and departed from the room. Archie stroked his beard in rumination.

'That should get rid of her for now. That bravado of hers shall do the job nicely even if she questions me. No matter what happens with her, she'll at least be out of my way while I conduct my master plan. My plans are too close for her incompetence to be in my way anymore. Once I get the Red Orb, nothing will stop me. Not Team Magma, not Isabel's failures, nothing. This is going to be excellent.'

The Boss of Team Aqua smirked as he stared back at the aquarium, contemplating a watery future for the world.

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Isabel trudged in the halls, didn't bother to focus on the occasionally loud klaxons as they tried to permeate her mind.

'One more chance. One more chance to prove myself. I'm curious that he is giving me such an important operation alone considering how he berated me just now. There is more to the story; he's already proven how much I'm worth anymore, nothing. Unless…he plans to get rid of me. Me discarded into the trash? Nonsense. I didn't climb my way to the top, forced to be so obsequious for nothing. Unless…I achieve my mission there and then he will see how important I am.' She adopted Archie's ruminative look.

"So how did it go?" The hacker agent interrupted her thoughts.

"Oh. It went fine. As I expected it would be." The Captain said with an air of confidence.

"Why don't I believe you?"

"Because you're a cynic?"

"Hey, that's how I made it this far in life. Not about to change now."

"Yes, well, that's you. I have larger concerns than your ego right now. I have another mission ahead of me. One of great importance."

"What? Clean out the Boss' aquarium?"

'I swore he must have had a glass attached to his ear to the door.' "No, fool, to go to Sootopolis City and try to see if the Cave of Origin is there. Perhaps find Kyorge."

"Really? I'm surprised he would do that giving the dressing down he gave you."

"That was for your benefit to keep you and the rest of the men inline. So that even higher ranking agents can be punished for their failures. You know we don't tolerate failure. We're not like the Rockets."

"No, but it sounds like too much like a suicide mission to me. The Cave of Origin has some powerful Pokemon."

"Don't you think I know that? I am the second in command of this organization; I know of such protocols but I shall beat the odds and will succeed for I am the top agent with the top Pokemon and if I fail, the organization would crumble." The agent just rolled his eyes.

"Are you telling me that or yourself? Besides all I hear is a bunch of self pronouncements, you're worse than a manga."

"You dare to say that? I should strip you down and have you clean up the base's sewage filters."

"I'm not the villain here. I'm just pointing out that from what I see, you're acting more like a supervillain and play in the flourish than doing your job."

She was ready to draw blood. "I am doing my job perfectly with the amount of zealousness required. Perhaps if you weren't so busy with your deadpans and cynicism, you'd act the same way."

"That may be, but at least I'm not acting like the job is the only thing that matters in life. I certainly have other interests than doing this when I'm 50. Hopefully I'll be promoted. Maybe I'll quit. I don't care. I believe in the message, and for now that's what matters. It seems you're more busy playing on the entitlements than the job itself. I thought we were doing this for the good of humanity, not for ego trips."

The agent's words were cutting her to the quick. "Of course I'm doing it for the good of humanity, are you now questioning my motivation? You've certainly questioned everything else: my conduct, my actions."

"Well, from what I saw, you were having quite the time with the weather machine. Sounded like you enjoyed the perks than what we were supposed to be doing: getting that data. Not to mention you were quite pleased with yourself seeing the Team Rocket agents get electrocuted and hoisting them below you, courtesy of your condescending attitude."

"That was to prove my point and dominate them, you insolent…"

"Exactly, all you do is prove yourself and your superiority and try to dominate: to me, Team Rocket, the scientists at the Institute, those kids, Team Magma and Field Commander Harlan certainly. You two have a history I hear."

Isabel raged as she heard the Magma agent's name. "Leave him out of this."

"Look, I don't know what the cat and mouse game you two have is but…you better get a lid on it, you already blew it on Mt. Chimney and now with the Red Orb coming down the pike, I think he'll definitely try to throw a monkey wretch into our plans. Archie could be removing you simply so you don't obsess."

"You and your suggestions, you sound like you would be better in my job."

"Me? Lord, no. I'm just a grunt, ma'am. I do my duty and that's it. I'm only looking for the organization's interests. Not mine."

"Then why does it sound like it's otherwise?"

"Because your bravado is blocking you and makes you think I'm a threat when I'm not. And you accuse me of paranoia."

"That's because you're so suspicious. Of me and my rank and the organization, perhaps it is too much for you. Perhaps you should be relieved."

"With what Archie has planned for you, I doubt I'll have to worry but you best watch yourself and your flaw, Archie is probably counting on that. Why else did he give you such a mission? Anyone else with a sense of awareness wouldn't do it and simply quit and hide. But not you, the grand Captain of Team Aqua, you think you're so indispensable, no one can take your place. You look down on people because you and your cause are so advanced. If you're so advanced, why didn't you try to take Archie's damn job already and shut up?" The agent stormed off.

The Captain had no words to comeback; the words rocked her to her very core.

'What does he know? He's not the one leading the missions, and he's not the one having to deal with…everyone in sight.' She suddenly felt quite enervated and dragged herself to her room.

'I can do this, I can. I am Team Aqua's best agent, I can't be replaced….can't I?' She tried to suppress the agent's words but she could not.

'Perhaps…he has a point. This mission seems too contrived and my success record has been less than stellar. Should I bother with this mission or take the easy way out and fake my death and move on? Staying isn't much of an option as now that Archie's claims of getting the Red Orb are becoming closer, and he may just do away with me anyway. If he succeeds, at least I'll be prepared with the deluges to come. Just…am I allowed to be part of all that anymore? After the shrine, the cause didn't seem to matter; it was getting Harlan more or less. Or stopping all of Team Aqua's hindrances, like that brat with the Pikachu.'

Isabel walked down another long corridor, ignoring the occasional agent as they ran past her.

'But that hacker agent, what was his real angle? Was he trying to help me or undermine me? He seemed a little too sincere with his rhetoric. Perhaps that was the point. Hmm…in either case, it's moot questioning his motives as he may have a point: Archie's mission and the 'cat and mouse' game with Harlan. Perhaps I've been doing this all wrong.'

She entered her room and turned on her PC. 'Perhaps taking the chance of the Red Orb from me is Archie's way to make me see the truth and compartmentalize. But…all the same, that should be my tag. Finding the shrine and hunting the Red Orb was supposed to be my operation. But…no, focus, you have larger concerns right now. Like what the fact I may be out of a job soon.'

She noticed a new email, from an unknown sender with the subject heading reading: The timing of Groudon's ascent is now.

'Wonder what this is about, and if I should open it? I don't know why bother, not like I'm coming back. Not like they want me back. Would I be worse off if he was right and I did quit right now? Would Archie miss me, would he care? Would anyone else? Why would they? Not like I am friends with any of my agents. I'm sure they'd be cheering in the streets with my departure. I got to stop obsessing.' She kept staring at the email subject.

'Why not? I could use the laugh. My final memory before I leave this wretched place.' She opened the file and found it a video file patched with Harlan's smug countenance.

"What!"

--Hello, Isabel. I heard how Brody got the best of you once again, pity I was detained with another operation or I would have done the Weather Institute op myself, and God knows it's not a party without you, dear. I am writing to tell you that we are close to finding the Blue Orb and soon Groudon will arise and land will be the factor responsible for the new Golden Age of humanity, not your draining sea. Call it a warning, call it a taunt, call it a challenge, but either way, call it a prognostication of victory. I thought being the gentleman and the better of the two; I thought I should be courteous and inform you of the futility of it all and give you a heads up of coming attractions.

Summer is coming and you best not play with the dry earth for you'll never be able to wash off all the dirt.--

The message ended with the Team Magma insignia and Isabel just stared at the monitor for a minute.

"That—that insufferable twit! His arrogance or the delusion that his organization shall prevail holds no bounds. I—I can't leave yet, not until I wipe that smug smile off his face. And prove that our cause is the more just." She rummaged through her room to find a burnable CD. She inserted in the drive and downloaded the file.

"I'd love to see him watch as we get the Red Orb and drown him with his own words. A most delectable form of irony. I can almost taste it." She finished the CD and grabbed it out of the slot and rapidly walked from her room, down the corridor.

'Then after him, then I'll get those who mocked me, that crossdressing freak for making a fool out of me and that brat with the Pikachu, not even deception or electricity will save them as they'll drown under the ocean's depths. It's going to be splendid. Oh, the thoughts go as deep as the sea with what I have in mind.'

Her brisk walking soon turned to running. 'I have to have this mission; I deserve to have this mission. Archie didn't go out and get humiliated like I did. He didn't get to be mocked and shut down. I deserve vindication for my labors and humiliations and it started with hunting for that damn orb, I'll be the one getting it and prove to everyone that I am the best one for the job and the mission!' Her sneer grew wider and wider.

She ran past the hacker agent as she approached Archie's office. "Hey, where's the fire?"

"Under Archie's posterior if I have my way."

He looked at her quizzically. "What?"

Archie glanced at some blueprints when Isabel forced the doors to open.

"Huh? Captain Isabel? What are you doing blazing in my office unannounced!"

"This." She tossed the disc on his desk. "Field Commander Harlan contracted me, taunting me that his organization will be getting the Blue Orb and Groudon will soon arise. Sir, given my experience with him and the fact he and I intersected because of the orbs, I think I deserve to join you in the mission to obtain them. One last chance, should I fail, then you can demote me to Dan'in and I'll remain by your side in perpetuity or whatever you see fit to do with me. I have nothing left to lose." She stared the Boss of Aqua down with the most determined face in existence. Archie gave a hard sigh after a few minutes of silence and scanned the file into his portable PC and viewed the message.

"Your penchant for the dramatic aside, I can certainly understand your side of it. But I have to admit, it's rather interesting how you're willing to risk it all. Since you seem so determined and quite frankly, knowing your bravado, you would interfere anyway, I should know better than have you go elsewhere. But I was hoping your sense of duty and your passions therein would ensure your hiatus and thus leave our operations away from your…zone of incompetence."

"That is not fair, sir. I had a highly efficient record until this past year. You can't dock me for two mistakes and shunt me off to the side."

"Oh, to the contrary, you chose this life, dear Captain; you knew that into running into these circles that failure would not be tolerated. You are the best, that image should always be maintained, whether you're fighting our counterpart, a rival or a neophyte. One slipup shows that this occurrence is often and twice is endless. That's also part of this life and you can't un-ring the bell most of the time." Archie glared at her right back.

"Then what's the point of trying or failing or succeeding if there is no cushion from the fall and try again? Yes, we failed at Devon, Mt. Chimney, and now the Weather Institute and I am as you said, your vanguard, but what's the point of having that title if I will lose it within a few risks that had to be made and thus instill a fear of attempting to the men? This last op will prove my rank and my worth as I will, as you put it, use my passion to achieve our goal: the enlightenment of humanity. Armies have always said the mantra that the men came first. Well, do they or don't they?"

He stared straight through her and massaged his temples. "They…do. But I can't use mistakes or incompetence."

"You won't get it, not from me. Not with these kind of stakes in mind. Both personal and professional from the way you're talking."

"Coming from you, it used to be professional but something in you has changed to make it personal and I don't have time to correct it and now I'll be watching you extra closely, since…I'll be giving you another chance."

She almost jumped for joy. "Thank you, sir. You won't regret this."

"See that I don't. Now getting packing."

"Yes sir." She beamed as she bowed and nearly cartwheeled out of the office. Archie just sighed.

'That woman will be the death of me yet. But let her play her games, once I have the orb, I can finally rid myself of her and her miserable theatrics.'

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Isabel nearly pranced to her room, the hacker agent called out to her.

"What the hell happened?"

"I'm going on the mission with you all to get the Red Orb. I got a video e-mail from Harlan, egging me on and I stormed into the Boss' office and demand I get the op." She said with confidence.

"You go-getter, you."

"Indeed. Not only may we get the Red Orb but I'll wipe the smirks off Harlan, you, and anyone who doubts my superiority."

"Can you be any more histrionic?"

"Don't mock me."

"I'm not but from the way you conduct yourself, I have to admit, you would be a better actress than Aqua agent."

"You can irritate me all you want, nothing you say will rob me from this high as my job and rank are quite secure."

"What makes you think that?"

"My orations, and the fact I informed him what happens if he instills a fear to the men about attempting and succeeding and failing. I reiterate, you're not dashing this high."

"Until you get a crashing low with what Archie or the other agents will do to you for what sounds like overblown theatrics eventually. Agents are a dime a dozen, look at Cipher, the Global Police, and Team Rocket and you tell me of job security."

She repeated the same glare she used on Archie. "You're jealous. You're just jealous you didn't have the gumption to attempt such an action. And that's why you'll never go anywhere." She jeered.

"I'm glad this tickles you but if I'm under the radar, I'm safe, but you on the other hand, you've made yourself quite vulnerable from this rash act. I'm worried you're in over your head."

"I didn't get this far without taking risks, and my only question for this interrogation is…why do you care about me away? What's your angle?" They stopped at her door.

"I…" He couldn't answer her. He didn't even know himself.

"I…I…I have heard rumors about you, what a witch you were to work with, how smug and arrogant you are, and how you treat your agents and anyone else that got in your way but…I saw someone else in there, someone who is having all these displaced passions for the wrong reasons and is blinded to the truth. You're still blind. You could have had a way out and you didn't take it. Either way you love your job too much or…you love your job too much. And…I don't want you to die for a pointless cause like your job or Archie's ambition anymore. Things have changed. It's not about helping people anymore, is it?" He inched closer to her.

"It will be when I'm going to get that orb. And the world that…"

"You can stop with the drama, there is no audience but me and that's all that should matter, yes?" He was closer and closer.

"You are wrong; the audience makes for the performance. And this audience member better think again if he's going to kiss me, you're too low rank for me." She said coyly.

"I thought we were striving for a utopia here. As the founders of a new civilization, shouldn't we be able to rewrite the rules of the courtship dance as we're all equal."

"We should but not with me, you're not equal enough." She taunted as she opened the door and slammed it on his face.

"And after all that, you still don't even know my name. Terrific." He said sotto voce as he lingered at the door for a few minutes and then moved on his way.

Isabel began to pack. "I don't need that, or this." She still continued to be pleased at her previous act of bravado and began to muse as her peripheral vision caught the idle computer and a dark smile laced her lips. The following night, Field Commander Harlan checked his e-mail and found out that Isabel returned his letter with a video file with the subject heading 'Groudon shall sink into the waters'.

--Well, Harlan, I must say your message was inspiring as it actually helped me with an issue I had and only served to fortify my sheer contempt of you and your organization. And I shan't bore you with the minor details of my rumination or epiphany, instead only return your courteous warning, in that of the Red Orb shall be in ours, Kyorge will be ours and the water will be 'the factor responsible for the new Golden Age of humanity, not your' earth-quaking landscapes.

Spring is coming and you best keep out of the rain or you'll melt away.--

The message ended and Harlan just gave a dark chuckle.

"Impressive."

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