Chapter 1

Chapter 1

"Return"

Teleport…I was starting to hate Teleport…I tried to shake off the light-headedness that came with using that move, then I looked around to see where we had all ended up.

Not Dr. Gray's place… I groaned.

Well, usually, Teleport brings you to the last place that you used Teleport at, unless you choose a specific location, Taper noted.

Who asked you!? I said.

It shrugged. You need to calm down, Ash.

I ignored it.

…Do you think anyone's home? I asked.

"Perrsiann…"

'There's one way to find out…'

Yeah… I nodded.

I floated up to the doorbell and rang it. As soon as I did, I realized it was pointless.

…There's no one inside… I thought out loud.

"Pikapi?"

'How can you tell?'

I…can't feel anyone inside……

I tested the doorknob. It gave way easily. I pushed open the door and let myself in. The other Pokémon followed.

…There hasn't been anyone here for a while… Taper said quietly.

"Persian…"

'I can smell the human scent though…'

Persian turned to me.

"Persiiiann?"

'Can you smell it?'

Uh…

I landed on the floor and tried to smell humans…Instead, I realized that I could feel what had happened before…Misty, Brock, Richie, and Billie had left a while ago, but Dr. Gray had lingered behind……up until a day or so ago…then……

"……………Persian…"

'……………Team Rocket.'

"Mew!?"

'What!?'

"Persiannn…Perrrsiann…"

'I'd recognize that scent anywhere…Team Rocket has been here…'

"Mmmew? Mew….mew mew?"

'Are you sure it wasn't Dr. Gray? Or maybe it was Billie? They're both Rockets, you know…'

"Persian! Perrrrr…"

'You mean former Rockets…No, these ones still smelled fresh…'

"…Mew…"

'…What do you think happened?'

Persian sniffed around some more.

"Perssiiiann……Perrr…perr…"

'It's hard to tell, but……I don't think he left willingly…'

You think something bad happened to him? I asked.

"Perr…"

'Most likely…'

"Pikachu!"

'We have to help him!'

I looked back at Pikachu. I understood where it was coming from…but I wasn't sure if it was worth risking our necks to save Dr. Gray……He had been the one to create…that………after all…….

"Saur……Bulba?"

'Um……Who is he?'

"Mew?"

'Dr. Gray?'

"Bulbasaur."

'Yeah.'

Well, um……

He's the guy who used to work here…He's a scientist, Taper explained.

"Bulba…?"

'Uh…Okay…'

"Charizard…" Charizard puffed.

'I say we leave him…'

"Pidge! Geotto!"

'We can't do that! Right, Ash?'

Uh…

"Pika!"

'Right!'

I didn't like where things were going. I didn't want to pay a visit to…Giovanni……I just wanted to go home……

"Persiann…"

'It's decided then…Let's go.'

I sighed.

"Mew……"

'Let's get going……'

* * *

The eleven of us (Me, Pikachu, Persian, Taper, Bulbasaur, Charizard, Squirtle, Kingler, Muk, Sandslash, and Magnemite) tried to head to Viridian somewhat inconspicuously…Once we reached the edge of town, I knew we couldn't make it much farther as a group.

Okay, you guys. We can't all just storm in there together…Some of you have to stay here…

"Izard!" Charizard said immediately.

'I'll stay!'

I should've guessed, I said wryly.

"Pikachu!"

'I'm coming!'

Okay… I nodded, That's one staying and one going…

"Perrsiannn…"

'Make that two going…'

Okay. Two going, I corrected myself.

Aren't you going, Ash? Taper asked.

Okay! Three going! I said.

……I will go, Taper said.

Make that four…

"Pikachu?"

'Is that enough?'

Umm…

"Bulbasaur!"

'I'll keep everyone else in line!'

"Squirtle, squirt!"

'Me too!'

Okay, that's good, I told them, Bulbasaur's gonna need your help to keep Charizard on good behavior…

"Char!?…Zard!" Charizard huffed angrily.

Okay, let's go, I said to Pikachu, Taper, and Persian.

"Izardd…" Charizard said, just as we were about to leave.

'Wait, Ash…'

Huh?

"Charrrr…Charizard…"

'I have a score to settle…with Giovanni…'

Oh…Okay…um, let's go then!

"…Pidgeotto!" Pidgeotto called.

'…Goodbye, Ash!'

"Bulbasaaur!"

'Good luck!'

"Squirtle squirtle!"

'You're gonna need it!'

You just wait and see!

It didn't take too long to get to the Team Rocket headquarters. I didn't know of any side entrances, so we all just went in the front door. I didn't bother to change into myself, because it would probably be better if no one recognized me except for perhaps Giovanni and Dr. Gray…Of course, being a rare Pokémon inside of a group of Pokémon thieves' hideout would have its disadvantages, but at least I'd be able to defend myself.

"Hey! Look at all of those Pokémon!" James announced.

I looked up and saw none other than Jessie, James and Meowth, all staring at us.

"Zzarrrrd…" Charizard growled.

'I don't like those guys…'

Neither do I, but we're gonna have to put up with them okay? I said to only them.

"Persian?"

'What do you mean?'

You'll see…

"Hey! I recognize all of dose Pokémon!" Meowth said suddenly.

"Hey…So do I!" Jessie said.

"Yeah! That's that Charizard that used to belong to the boss after we stole it from that kid, and that Pikachu is definitely the twerp's."

"Dat's da boss's Persian…and the Drowzee belongs to da twerp…" Meowth hissed.

"…What about that other thing?" Jessie asked.

Thing?

"Uh…Hey! It's dat little white cat thingy that saved us from dat other big…mean………"

I noticed that my comrades were staring at me…not to mention everyone else in the room…I cleared my throat.

"Mew, mew mew?" I asked.

'Excuse me, but do you know where Dr. Gray is?'

"Pika!?"

'What are you doing!?'

Just trust me!

"Pikachu……" Pikachu said worriedly.

'I don't know if that's a good idea……'

I didn't know if Pikachu was talking about asking about Dr. Gray or trusting me, and I decided it was best not to find out.

"Dr. Gray?" Meowth asked, "Ya mean dat looney they brought in here a while ago…?"

"Mew…Mew, mew…" I said nervously.

'Uh…Yes, that's probably him…'

"We're not allowed to tell anyone dat information," Meowth declared, crossing its arms.

"Persian! Perrr…"

'Tell us, Meowth! Or else…'

"Is dat a threat?" Meowth asked snidely, "I'm sure you realize that I've got a much better threat dan you guys could ever come up with."

"Mew mew!?"

'And what's that!?'

"I'll tell da boss dat you guys are here. I'm sure you'd all enjoy dat…"

"Um, Meowth…Aren't we supposed to tell him anyway?" Jessie asked.

"Shhh!" Meowth shushed her.

"Mew…mewmew…Mew."

'Thanks, but no thanks…We've gotta get going.'

"You ain't goin' anywhere!" Meowth screeched, "I'm tellin' da boss right now!"

"Yes sir!" James said. He then ran off down the hallway…towards the boss's office.

…We're in trouble… I commented.

No kidding, Taper agreed.

"Persian?" Persian asked, "Perrrsiann…Persian."

'Trouble? Have you forgotten who I am? I know a way.'

"Mew?"

'You do?'

"Perrrsiann…Persiann."

'This is my old hunting ground…I'll track down that mouse.'

"Pika?!"

'What?!'

"Persian."

'No offense.'

"Pikachu…" Pikachu said grudgingly.

'I sure hope not…!'

"You're not getting anywhere!!" Meowth interrupted.

"Charizard!?" Charizard growled, stepping forward.

'Is that a threat!?'

Meowth slowly stared up at the giant fire lizard. Charizard could've stepped on it accidentally and won a battle.

"Uhhhh…" Meowth quavered, "Dat's…a…"

"Arbok! Go!"

"Arrrrbok!" Arbok cried as it was released from it's Pokéball.

Does she think Arbok can beat Charizard? I asked in amazement.

No… Taper replied.

"Lickitung, you too!"

Ha! This'll be too easy! Charizard! Flamethrower! I called.

Charizard glanced back at me.

"Charizarrdd…?" it asked.

'Do you still think you're my trainer…?'

Huh…?

"Arbok! Bite attack!" Jessie ordered.

While Arbok and Lickitung were getting ready to attack, Meowth backed off to a safe spot.

Charizard whirled around and Slashed at Arbok before it could get too close, then grabbed it, spun around, and threw it into Lickitung. The two of them slammed into the far wall and landed heavily on top of Meowth.

"Oww…" it groaned.

"That…was a quick round…" Jessie noted.

"Charizard!" a voice called from down the hall.

Oh no…Not him……

I backed up slowly, then hid behind Pikachu…

"Pik?"

'Ash?'

Shh…

…Now you're just being silly… Taper chuckled.

I glared at it, and it smiled.

It was Giovanni who had spoken to Charizard, and he entered the lobby casually, followed by a happily cowering James.

"I see you've returned…" Giovanni said with a nod, "That means…your master must not be too far behind you…"

"Zard?!" Charizard snorted.

'Master?!'

What does that mean…?

Giovanni scanned the room. In a few seconds, his gaze fell on me.

"Ashura…" he whispered.

I noticed that Jessie, James and Meowth were staring at him as if he had gone nuts.

"Pikachu…" Pikachu said in annoyance.

'Stop hiding behind me.'

I resigned to stop hiding…

Giovanni straightened up and smiled…an unusual occurrence…

"I knew you would come back, Ash…Changed your mind?"

The three Rockets looked from him to me and back again. Now they really thought he was out of his mind.

"Uh…Excuse me…sir……" Jessie laughed nervously, "but did you just call that…eh…Pokémon there……Ash??"

There was no point in hiding it anymore……

That's right. He did, I told them.

Their faces turned pure white. They clung to each other as if there was a ghost in the room…Heh…Maybe there was……

This could get interesting… I realized.

My name is Ashura…but you know me better as Ash… I said, trying to use a mystical tone of voice.

"How come…I can hear the twerp……but I can't see it?" Jessie asked.

"And…how come I'm hearing him in my head?" James added.

"You nitwits! He's standing right there!" Giovanni said, pointing at me.

I decided to have some fun with this…I floated up about half a foot and looked at them questioningly.

"Mew?"

'Who, me?'

"Eek!" James cried, holding Jessie tightly.

"That…That thing's not Ash…" Jessie stammered, "Ash……isn't that thing!"

Wow. Any other brilliant statements, Jess?

"Oooh!" she cried, hugging James as tight as she could.

"You idiots! Can't you see he's pulling a prank on you?" Giovanni asked.

"No!" they all replied vigorously.

Giovanni groaned in disgust.

"Nevermind then……Ash! Have you decided to rejoin us?"

Do you really need to ask? I retorted.

"I…didn't think so…" he admitted, "Very well. You leave me no choice."

He held out another little control thingy and pushed one of the buttons. I heard a metallic scraping sound, and suddenly there was a loud crash behind me. I whirled around to see that one of those metal drop-down doors was covering the exit. I grinned and turned back to Giovanni.

You think a little wall can stop us!? I asked.

"You didn't come here so you could leave," Giovanni pointed out.

Uh……Okay, you've got a point there……

"Perrrrsiann…" Persian said.

'Might as well spit it out…'

…Where's Dr. Gray? I asked.

"Dr….Gray?" Giovanni asked curiously, "Why do you care…?"

He's not at his house-

"Of course he's not. That's not even his house you know. I had him brought back here so we could squeeze some information out of him…He was somewhat helpful…However, as of right now, there is no real use for him…"

So where is he? I asked impatiently.

"Oh, he's……around…"

Persian growled.

"Oh yes. I nearly forgot…Persian here knows where he is, don't you?"

"Siannn…"

'Of course…'

Where is he, Persian? I asked.

"Siiiann…Perrr…"

'The same place he puts all prisoners……'

Prisoners!?

I tried to picture a prison run by Team Rocket……It was hard at first…then I remembered how had I first met this guy…………

Where…do you guys keep prisoners…? I asked.

"…Prisoners?" Giovanni asked. He started chuckling. "I guess you could call them that……We don't usually have too many………Would you like to join them…?"

Would I like to……? I repeated, thinking over what he had said.

Oh yeah!

Yeah right! I said.

"Ha…"

Why do you keep asking me anyway!? I asked.

"You'd make a welcome addition to Team Rocket. No one else has ever been able to successfully steal any of my Pokémon, let alone every single one. Not only that, but you're a well-known Pokémon Master…You have power and skill…and…you just happen to be an extremely rare Pokémon…Wouldn't you say those are some good reasons?"

Uh…

He had overwhelmed me with so many compliments, that I wasn't sure how to react.

"So, what do you say? Come back?"

Uh…No! Never! We're getting Dr. Gray, and then we're leaving! Right guys!?

"Chhar!"

"Perrsiiiian!"

"Pika!"

As you wish… Taper smiled at me.

"Hm…That's what you want to believe…Jessie, James, get them!"

"Uh…I would…" Jessie began, "but you see…uh…both of my Pokémon were knocked out by that Charizard…"

"Charizard?"

He smirked at Charizard.

"Well…It's looks like you're getting along nicely with your new…old…trainer…"

"Zard!?"

'What!?'

"Well, aren't you?" he asked quizzically.

"Irrrr…"

Just say yes, Charizard! I hissed.

"……………Char."

'……………No.'

Charizard!

"Persian…"

'Uh oh…'

"You ready to come back?" Giovanni asked.

I turned so I was facing Charizard.

What are you doing, Charizard!?

"Char…iz…….zardd…"

'…I shouldn't have come here…'

Yeah? Well I shouldn't have either! But I did, and so did you, and we can't change that!

Charizard looked down at me…I could feel……it had mixed feelings…It wasn't sure what to do……

Why don't you know…?

"Weezing! Victreebel!"

I spun around just in time to see Weezing and Victreebel emerge from their Pokéballs.

"You too, Meowth," Giovanni said.

"Meeowth?" Meowth asked in surprise.

Giovanni didn't even have to say anything. Meowth got ready to fight.

"Meowth! Look out!" Jessie cried.

Meowth glanced up to see Victreebel bearing down on it. It screeched and scrambled out of the way.

"Attack them!" James shouted, turning Victreebel so it was facing us.

A battle…?

"Zard!"

'Ready!'

"Pika…!"

'Ready!'

Persian crept back so it was standing next to me.

"Persian…persianper…"

'Ash, we have to be careful. This is only one battle. We have to be ready to win the war…'

…Huh?

"Persian! Persiaan…"

'If we get too tired out by this one battle, we won't have enough energy to fight off all the Rockets that are going to come our way…'

"Weezing! Smokescreen!"

"Weezing!"

Weezing released a cloud of smoke that irritated our vision and our breathing.

Pikachu! Thunderbolt! I said.

"Pika CHU!!!" Pikachu shouted.

Pikachu's lightning ended up zapping just about everyone in the room, including me.

Watch where you're aiming Pikachu! I said.

"Chu!"

'Sorry!'

"Razor Leaf!"

Through the smoke, I saw about four or five spinning leaves heading straight for Persian.

"Mew!" I cried.

'Watch out!'

"Sian!"

Persian jumped over the first two, then ducked the third and swiped away the last one.

"Persiann…" it snarled.

'I don't give in that easily…'

"Tackle attack!"

I knew Weezing was going to hit me before it hit me, but I still didn't have enough time to do anything about it. I felt it slam into my side, and we both flew backwards and I ended up getting knocked into Charizard's stomach.

"Mew!"

'Ow!'

"Sludge attack!"

"Mew?"

The awful, smelly, poisonous sludge glopped over me, and I was suddenly struck with déjà vu…I ignored that and crawled to safety.

Charizard…use Flamethrower… I pleaded.

"Zard?"

'Flamethrower?'

Yes, Flamethrower…Now!

"…Charizard…"

'…I don't think so…'

What!?

Charizard rammed its head against Weezing, and it flew through the smoke.

I wish Pidgeotto was here to get rid of the smoke……but Charizard has wings too…

Charizard! See if you can't do anything about the smoke!

"TRRREEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!!!!" I heard Victreebel screech.

Charizard moved forward and let the vines smack it hard. Its tail swished back and forth angrily, and I had to move out of the way so I didn't get burnt. Charizard hit Victreebel with an Ember attack.

"EEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!!!!!!!!!" it screamed in pain and anger.

"Acid!" James ordered.

Victreebel spat out an onslaught of stinging Acid that hit Charizard in the face. Charizard roared, and as I watched, the flame on its tail grew larger and larger…

It's gonna use Rage…

Persian attacked Victreebel with its Fury Swipes, and Pikachu continued to zap Weezing…but I knew that Charizard was going to end this battle quickly…and not necessarily for the better…

Charizard breathed out a huge Fire Blast that demolished everything in its path. Giovanni ran…

I remembered what had happened when I had met Jessie and James for the first time…James had had Koffing use Smokescreen…but Pikachu and I had made sure that we won, because Pikachu used a super-powerful Thundershock that had made the entire building explode……I didn't want to think about what a Fire Blast could do……

Taper! Teleport!! I called out.

What!?

NOW! I shrieked.

I tried to help get everyone out of there, but we were too late…

"Weezing! Don't do it!" I heard James cry.

The next thing I heard was the sound of a bomb…It was right next to me. It was surrounding me…and all of us…Then the heat came…and the fire……