Chapter 17-Night on the Town

The streets of Celadon were surprisingly populated for being so late at night. Green supposed she wasn't surprised; there were the lights of a casino not far off, and there was the occasional bar in one form or the other scattered around this part of the city. People hardly gave her a second glance as she covered as much ground as possible, looking from face to face for any sign of Janine or Lori. Looking up, Green glumly noticed how much the moon had risen. It had been over an hour since she had healed up her pokemon at the center, and now that she had a chance to run around the city her enthusiasm had died a bit. Deciding it would be prudent to take a quick break, Green noticed a pokemart open and sauntered inside.

After gathering a handful of snacks and a bottle of water, Green began to walk towards the counter when she started to get the feeling someone was watching her. Looking around, she was a little unnerved that the whole store seemed to be deserted save her. On second glance, she could see that the clerk was sitting behind the counter with a book in her lap. The clerk barely noticed as Green came up to the counter, and didn't even say a word until he was done scanning her items. "So, what are you doing out this late?" he asked as he held out his hand for her pokedex.

"Heading home" Green replied as she looked around the store one more time. "You see anyone else here?"

"Not a lot of people come in around this time. Obviously." The clerk handed over Green's pokedex and a plastic bag, then plopped back down and picked up his book. "Have a pleasant evening." Green was halfway to the door when he called, "You should get home, by the way. It's late."

Green scowled at the clerk for a moment before turning around and leaving. She didn't stop walking until she had reached a bench and sat down. As Green started into the food, she took some time to think. What did she think was going to happen with this search? This was a city, after all. It wasn't like a video game, where there was 9 or 10 doors to enter. Plus, she was eleven. That was turning out to be a real problem as of late. For one, it would be pretty difficult to get into any of the bars, clubs or casinos around here without making a scene. Also, while young pokemon trainers did seem to enjoy a fair amount of freedoms, Green was willing to bet that sooner or later someone was going to try to question why an eleven-year-old was roaming the streets in this part of town at night.

As if on cue, a pair of policemen rounded the corner, one obviously in the midst of a story while the other grinned and listened. The second one noticed Green, and the two policemen lifted their hands in a casual salutation. Green motioned back, and relaxed visibly as the two men continued along without stopping to speak with her. Deciding it would be best to resume the search she got up and wandered off, unaware of the figure that followed slowly after her.

A further hour later, Green only achieved the goal of making herself miserable. It was humid, and the sweat was making her shirt and pants stick to her skin as she walked along a deserted alleyway behind a series of bars. With a exasperated sigh, Green summoned Regirock and motioned for him to lift her up. The pokemon happily obliged, lifting her up and onto its' shoulders.

There was a sudden noise from behind Green, and she turned around to see the alleyway still devoid of anyone else. Her eyes narrowed. "Alright, who's there? I know I heard something. You've been following me, haven't you?" Green continued to scowl at the alleyway for a few minutes, waiting for an answer. None seemed coming, so she reached down to her belt and grabbed two more pokeballs. "I'll roast this whole alleyway. Don't think I won't. I don't like being fucked with! If you-"

"Green? Is that you?" Called a faint voice that seemed to be coming from around the corner, the opposite way that the initial noise had come from. "Stay right there!"

For a moment Green was about to bolt, and she could feel the command for Regirock to flee in her throat. However she decided at the last moment to just wait for the inevitable. It was probably Lori coming to bitch at her for acting stupidly. Green was surprised therefore when Marta came around the corner, leaning against a wall and taking a few deep breaths.

"Marta! What are you doing here? Did you guys find Janine yet?" Green asked, hope rising in her quickly.

Marta shook her head, letting her breath come back fully before responding. "No, not yet. We were looking all around where they were last seen, and then Julia came to find us. She said you had ran away, so I came to find you."

"How the hell did you know where to find me?" Green asked, genuinely impressed.

"Well, we were looking at the department store mainly. At the stores around it too. I figured that you'd be here. Around the..." Marta cut off, and her mouth closed after a moment of hesitation as a blush spread across her face.

Smiling, Green decided to move on to save Marta any further embarrassment. She was pretty sure Marta was going to say something about being near places with alcohol. "Well now that you're here, I guess we should both go and look for Janine together, huh?"

Looking relieved, Marta nodded. "Oh, yes. Let's hurry. It's going to be midnight soon."

"Alright, let's go then! I guess we can check out some of the bars now that you're here. We can..." Green started to say, turning to give Regirock an order. The noise of footsteps from down the alleyway quieted her, and Green looked questioningly down at Marta. "Did you bring people with you?"

"No, I don't even think they knew I ran off right away." Marta was fumbling in her purse, and took out a pokeball. "What should we do?"

"Don't freak out, for one. Hey! Who's there?" Green called out, looking annoyed.

"Return your pokemon, Green. I'm here to talk!" Called back a voice that Green recognized at once. Gutman. He stepped out into view, hands held over his head and smiling.

"Fuck you! I'm not returning SHIT! How the hell did you get out of fucking prison? I handed you right to the goddamn police!" Green yelled, fury creeping into her voice. "Regirock, get this motherfucker!"

Gutman took a large step back, grinning widely. "I don't think you should do that. I do have something you want" he said easily, motioning with his hand. From a shadow in the alleyway, Janine stepped out into the open. "Now, can we talk?"

"Stop" Green commanded Regirock, putting a hand on top of its head as it jerked to a halt. Green did not respond at once, taking a minute to consider the situation. Janine was dressed as she was earlier, and even had her pokeballs on her belt. However she had a black mask over the lower half of her face, and Green couldn't help noticing that while she looked in their direction, her vision didn't meet anyone else's or waver. Her eyes just sort of stared forward, while her arms lay limply at her sides.

"Janine! Quick, come over here!" Marta called, who had noticed that she was out of reach of Gutman. Marta began making frantic hand motions for Janine to come over, but Janine didn't even look like she had noticed anything.

Though she was pretty sure what he was going to ask for, Green thought it would be prudent to drag this on longer for now. "I don't think she can hear us, Marta. Ok, Gutman. What's this about?"

Gutman took a step forward, and Green saw for the first time that he stepped very gingerly with one of his legs, and a noticeable flicker of pain came across his features. "It's simple. I want Regirock. Give me that pokemon, and I'll give you your girlfriend back.

"Why isn't Janine saying anything?" Green asked, making no move to do anything yet.

"We've made her easier to deal with. For God sakes. Janine, say something." Gutman commanded, looking a bit annoyed.

"Hello Green. I'm fine. I haven't been mistreated." Janine replied at once, her voice muffled a bit by the mask across her face. She didn't move from her position.

Biting her bottom lip, Green took a moment to decide what to do. Though she was loathe to give up Regirock, she was also unwilling to let Janine get kidnapped again. "Tell me, why don't we just kick your ass and take her?" Green asked Gutman.

"Well, if you think I'm here by myself you're sorely mistaken. Look I'm not going to argue with you all night. Give me Regirock or we are leaving. You won't see Janine again, I promise. I'll make sure of that."

Green felt a tap on her shoulder and followed Marta's finger as she pointed silently to the rooftop next to them. Green could feel her heart sink as she saw two other figures staring down from above. She couldn't make out their faces, but she was willing to bet that they were Cairo and Cook. Green looked at the ground and clenched her fists. They had enough people here that she couldn't just knock this guy out and take Janine. Regirock was slow, and the other two undoubtedly had pokemon out already. Nevertheless, she had to try. "I won't give Regirock up, and I'm going to take Janine back from you. There's two of us and four of you. We'll see how this goes. Marta! Cover our backs!

There was a long pause, where nothing happened at all.

Green took a deep breath and started to rub her temples, eyes shut tight. "You didn't bring your pokemon, did you." It wasn't a question.

"I... I'm so, so sorry Green. I just brought Jeffy... I was with all of the others, I didn't think I'd need all of my pokemon..." Marta began, her voice wavering as tears began to well in her eyes. "I'm so, so sorry."

Feeling completely defeated now, Green reached down and took Marta's unresisting hand. "Marta. It's alright. Really. Please stop crying, alright?" She asked gently, giving it a squeeze. Green ignored the mocking laughter from the roof as Marta calmed down, nodding and wiping her eyes as she squeezed Green's hand back. Green dropped Marta's hand, and sighed deeply. "Fine. Regirock's yours."

Gutman broke out into a huge grin as Green hopped down from Regirock' shoulder and returned it to the ball. "I'm very glad we could work this out. Here, hand it to Janine. I don't exactly trust you."

Scowling, Green stepped forward. Janine mirrored the movement and held her left hand out, palm up. Green dropped the ball into into her waiting hand, and Janine casually tossed the ball over her shoulder to Gutman. Before Green could go about demanding anything, she was startled as Janine reached up and snagged her wrist in an iron grip. "Hey, what the fuck?" Green exclaimed, trying to pull her arm from Janine frantically.

Gutman was grinning, his eyes never leaving Green's. "I forgot to mention that we'll need you as well. Don't worry though, I'm sure Mia will release your ninja friend once we're done this mission."

"Marta! Run!" Green cried as loud as she could, thrashing violently against Janine's grip, which didn't even falter for a second.

Marta looked frozen by fear, but didn't budge as she noticably summoned the courage to speak. "I don't want to leave you, Green. You're just a kid!"

"Listen to me, what good would you be right now? RUN! Run and tell the others you stupid girl!" Green screamed back, turning red in the face. "I'll kick the SHIT out of you if you don't!"

Marta hesitated for another moment, breathing slowly before she turned and ran. She glanced over her shoulder once, then ran off around the corner. Green could hear her footsteps running off for a few seconds after she was out of sight, then nothing. The faint noises of the city was all Green could hear.

"Should we follow her?" asked a voice, and Cairo landed on the ground. Her Seviper followed behind, curling around the drainpipe as it spiraled slowly towards the ground. "I think we owe her a bit of a beating."

Cook, who was sitting on the edge of the roof, laughed. "Nah, don't even bother. We got what we need. It's not like we're gonna be here much longer, is it?"

Cairo didn't look convinced, but she was cut off by Gutman. "Fine, let's roll." Gutman commanded, motioning towards the other exit to the alleyway. Cairo looked like she was going to complain for a moment, but seemed to decide against it. Gutman looked serious, and not in the mood for games.

"Just a second, let Janine go! You promised me, you son of a bitch! Let her go, you have me already!" Green raged, renewing her thrashing against Janine's grip with renewed vigor. Janine seemed to be having a bit of a problem keeping Green's wrist firmly in her hand.

"Oh, just knock her out! Let's get back to the fucking base already!" Gutman called, annoyed.

Before Green could say another word, Janine's other fist came around in a wide arc, and the last thing she saw for a while were the knuckles heading for her face.

Green's eyes slowly opened as consciousness flowed back into her brain. She could tell two things right away; she was alone, and this room was very sparsely lit. As Green sat up she was aware of a third thing, namely the throbbing pain in her skull. Green sucked in air as she grit her teeth and grasped her head for a few minutes. Eventually the throbbing went down a bit, enough for Green to feel comfortable opening her eyes and trying to stand up. The fourth thing Green noticed was the handcuffs around her wrists, which clinked as she stood up. They were linked around a leg of a metal table which was bolted securely to the floor, but thankfully a chair was within reach of her foot. Green pulled the thing up and sat down, letting her hands dangle as her head rested face down on the surface of the table. Right now Green just wanted a few minutes of silence to collect her thoughts, and this seemed a good a time as any.

It was ten minutes before Green lifted her head up and began to search her pockets. Not surprisingly, there was a lack of anything useful there. There was some change and other small things that had accumulated in her pockets, but no pokeballs or pokedex. Sighing, Green looked around the room for anything else that could possibly help her.

This room, now that Green got a good look at the place, was surprisingly huge. Only one fluorescent light glowed in the ceiling, yellow with age. The other tube next to it barely let off a faint yellow glow, and even while Green watched it the thing went dark for a few seconds before buzzing back to life. This place looked to be some kind of a storeroom, with machines and cleaning implements sitting quietly in dark corners. The whole place smelled like dust and furniture polish, the sharp and musty scent so powerful Green couldn't stop thinking about it. There was a bit of excitement when Green saw a toolbox sitting on a shelf, but her hopes fell nearly as soon as they rose. The shelf was over 6 feet away against the wall, and high enough off the ground that it would have been annoying to retrieve even if Green hadn't been handcuffed. Another search of the room turned up no additional means of escape. It seemed as if Team Rocket didn't detain people in rooms they could conveniently escape from. Green decided to simply sit still, and wait for someone to come.

A noise in the dark made Green jerk upright, mid snore. Realizing she must have fallen asleep, Green stared around, trying to see what was going on. There was a figure making its way through the gloom, a female if Green was any judge. Janine stepped into view a moment later, her expression still blank as she balanced a tray of sandwiches in front of her. Janine placed it gently on the table before sitting down in the chair opposite from Green.

There was a moment where Green was going to refuse the food, but her stomach audibly groaned in protest to that plan. With a frown, Green reached out with difficulty and grabbed one of the sandwiches.

There was a clinking noise from Janine, and Green looked up to see Janine calmly removing another pair of handcuffs from her pocket. Janine linked one around her left wrist, making sure it was tight enough, and then looped it around a table leg and secured it to her other wrist, albeit with a bit more difficulty. Almost as soon as the second cuff was secured, Janine's eyes seemed to come back to life. "Wha? Wha... what happened?" Janine's eyes focused on Green, and she seemed supremely confused. "Green, why are you here? Where are we? Why am I handcuffed?" Janine asked, each question becoming more and more frantic.

The smile on Green's face eventually calmed Janine, who took a few deep breaths to slow her heart rate. "You're okay, Janine. Thank god. Right now we've both been kidnapped by Team Rocket. I assume we're in one of their bases in Celadon City. You're handcuffed because you did it to yourself. I think you were mind controlled. Janine, you have to remember. What happened when you and Lori went shopping? You never came back." Green wished she could have given Janine a few minutes to gather her wits, but this could be a very small window of opportunity to find out what happened.

"I... the last thing I remember is the two of us leaving the restaurant. We got a quick bite to eat, and Lori just sort of walked off down an alleyway. I know that sounds weird, but she just turned and jogged right off. I chased her..." Janine trailed off, and shrugged. "That's it. I think I remember seeing something red shining in the dark. I remember that Lori was just staring at it."

Green considered the words carefully. "This is serious. I think one of the members of Team Rocket has some level of mind control, and they exerted it over you."

"Yeah, you just said that a minute ago. I don't know, I find that hard to believe. Are you sure you saw me handcuff myself?"

"Janine, you're the one who knocked me out earlier when that guy Gutman told you to, and I can only assume you gave him all of my pokemon as well. I am extremely sure."

Janine opened her mouth in surprise, then shut it and stared down at the table. "Oh."

"We can't go and feel sorry for ourselves now. Look, we have to try and get out. If it hasn't been too long then our pokemon are probably still gonna be here. We need to think. Please, are you with me Janine?"

Nodding, Janine still did not look up. "Green, I told you I wasn't going to hurt you. I promised you. I'm starting to remember it all now. It's all like some sort of half-dream."

Green took a deep breath. Though she wasn't going to say it out loud, she was kind of annoyed. This was not the time to be pulling this shit. "Janine, look. That wasn't you. That was a puppet they were using to do what they wanted. I never even considered blaming you, but we really cannot worry about this right now, ok?"

Janine nodded again and finally looked up. Her eyes were dry, though a little red. "Thank you, Green. You're right, this isn't the time, I can't act like this. Alright, let's think. Handcuffs. Green, do you have a hairpin or anything?" she asked, using her limited reach to explore around to the best of her abilities.

While Green was glad to have Janine back, that joy quickly dwindled over the course of the next half hour. Whoever had put them here had been very thorough, and had been very sure not to leave any convenient pieces of metal for them to bend and use. Green growled in frustration as she tried desperately to think of a way out, sitting back with a huff in her seat. "If only we could reach that damn toolbox."

"I swear, if we get out of here I am really going to kill Gutman. I don't care, that guy is dead." Janine fumed as she glared down at her handcuffs.

"No complaints from me." Green sighed and stared up at the ceiling. "Fuck. I think we're screwed."

"Well, it looks like we're being ignored for the time being. I don't know what else to do." Janine thought for a long moment before sighing and saying, "Maybe it's just better to wait for them to come back."

Nodding glumly, Green settled back against the seat and tried to think of something to talk with Janine about. There was a brief pause, and then Green heard a feminine voice in her head. "Check the inside rim of the table. This is disappointing." Green jerked her head up and looked around wildly, but all she could see was Janine looking at her strangely.

"Did... you just hear a voice?" Green asked cautiously.

Janine slowly shook her head. "Green, are you feeling ok? You've taken some nasty blows to the head the last few days."

Reaching down, Green felt around the inside rim of the table, at least as much as she could reach. For a moment she thought nothing was there, but then her fingers brushed a groove. Reaching in and pulling with her finger, she could feel what was certainly a key fall into the palm of her hand. There was a moment where Green fumbled with the lock, and then her right handcuff came free.

As Green stood up and took the other one off, Janine just stared back with her mouth open for a moment before responding. "How did you even DO that? Where did you find a key?"

"I heard a voice in my head tell me there was a key under the table" Green explained as she went to Janine and felt around under her portion of the table. It didn't surprise her that there was just smooth metal all the rest of the way around the table. "Damn, just this key. Try it on your cuffs, I'll get the toolbox." Janine's frustrated growl told Green her answer before she even reached the toolbox. Janine placed the key on the table and accepted the toolbox from Green, placing it on her lap and opening it with a snap. Green grabbed the handcuff key, deciding to pocket the cuffs in case they came in handy. "Is there everything you need in there?"

Janine nodded as she took out some thin nails and pieces of wire. "It'll take a bit, but yes."

"Good. I'm heading off then."

There was a moment where Janine looked like she was going to drop her implements. "What? That's suicide! At least wait for me to get out!"

"Every moment we're here, we have a chance of losing our pokemon. I made a promise, and I'm going to keep it. I'm sorry, I can't wait." Green gave Janine a quick kiss, and started for the door.

"Green, it's a trap!" Janine yelled in response, yet it didn't slow down Green as she headed out the door.

Outside of the door there were no guards posted. The hallway Green was in now had poor lighting, and the air smelled moist and unused. There were a couple of loose crates sitting about, and Green was glad to see a crowbar lying against the wall near one. She hefted it, and swung the thing experimentally a few times. Seeming satisfied, she pried the lid of a crate off and stared inside.

The thing was packed with supplies. Strange medical instruments lay quiet in the box, most of which she couldn't begin to guess what they were. Gently, she lifted out what she could only guess was a blood centrifuge. She frowned as a vague memory from Rudolph flooded into her mind. Giving blood at the hospital, and getting to watch as they separated the blood cells from the plasma. The memory felt painful to recollect. It was inaccurate, and without context. Every time she tried to think of something like why she was giving blood, or what happened afterwords, there would just be that horrible headache. Nevertheless she clung onto the memory desperately, and made a mental note to write it down in her journal later. Every memory of Rudolph was precious.

Before she closed the crate, another instrument caught her eye. A simple stethoscope stared up from atop a scale, and for some reason Green couldn't explain she couldn't take her eyes away from it. As she picked it up, a whole new series of memories came to mind.

Rudolph was... 8? Around there at least. His father had just come home, and he was so excited to see the old man. The door opened, and there was his father, smiling as he placed a couple of large suitcases at his feet. A shiny silver stethoscope, just like this one, dangled from his neck. It was silly for him to wear it, but he knew how much Rudolph liked it. He spread his arms wide and caught Rudolph as he closed in. They were both laughing. "How's my favorite young lady doing, Green?" He asked as he smiled down warmly.

Green screamed out loud and threw the stethoscope back into the box, slamming it shut as she fell onto her bottom. She didn't even have a thought for the noise as she scrambled away from the crate on all fours, terrified. She just sat there, shaking her head while she stared unblinkingly at the suddenly immensely ominous crate. It took a minute before Green's breathing and heart rate returned to normal, and another minute until she could stand up again. She still trembled a bit as she walked away from the crate, grabbing the crowbar and not looking back at it. "My memories are my own. My memories are my own. My memories are my own."

The corridor was oddly silent as Green walked down, trying out doors. The rooms were practically all empty and dark, some with crates that looked ready for transport. The only door of interest seemed to be one with a tarnished bronze plaque that read 'manager.' A quick look around the place revealed a room with at least ten or so pokeballs strewn across an empty desktop, its chair turned towards the far wall. A bag also lay open on the desk, and Green could see her and Janine's pokedexes sitting inside. This room looked largely unpacked, and Green could see a sofa laden with cushions along one wall and a coat rack full of floor-length garments. Sidling inside, Green shut the door behind her softly and let the handle go slowly. She made her way to the desk in three strides and began to hurriedly shove the pokeballs into the bag as fast as possible.

The chair spun around slowly, revealing Mia. She was smiling serenely in a cross-legged pose. "Thank god. I was wondering how long it would take you to get here." She picked up a shining silver case from the desk, and clicked it open to reveal a number of long cigarettes. "Would you fancy one? I could also get you a drink if you'd like."

Green was frozen in place, one hand on a pokeball. It took her a moment to realize that Mia wasn't making any move at all, besides taking out a cigarette and lighting it with a match, which created an unusual smell. Green could clearly see Mia's six pokeballs dangling from her belt, untouched, and she had to admit that the Rocket didn't seem like she was going to fight. After a long hesitant moment Green sat down. "Sure, I'll have one of each."

Mia smiled, and passed Green her cigarette as she withdrew another from her case. "Of course. I roll my own. Please tell me if it's too strong. What would you like to drink?"

"Rum" Green replied instantly as she took a long pull of her cigarette. There was a strange taste, and Green stared at the thing for a moment, trying to remember. "There's something weird about this. Did you drug it?"

"In a matter of speaking. There's a bit of cannabis inside" Mia responded casually as she prepared Green a glass with ice and rum. Green noticed that she didn't even reach for a mixer. "Is that a problem?"

"Canna... no, no that's cool" Green said honestly, once she realized what she was talking about, and took another long drag of the spliff. "Look, it's not that I don't appreciate-oh thank you" Green paused as she accepted her drink and took a sip, "all of this hospitality, but what gives? Aren't I a prisoner? I kind of broke out and... and stuff after all" Green ended lamely.

"Yes, that took you almost too long back there. I had to help you out in the end. One of the others should be showing up at the room in about ten minutes to bring you food. We'll have time until then to speak freely, I imagine."

"Helped... you were the voice in my head?" Green exclaimed, anger and surprise evident in her face. "I thought that was me! I thought I was going crazy!"

"Not quite. I wanted to talk to you alone, preferably when the other Rockets did not know of our meeting. I wish to extend to you an offer. I don't need your decision today, but I do want you to seriously consider it." Mia leaned back and gave Green an enigmatic smile as she brushed back her jet black hair from her eyes. "Please."

Green couldn't help but notice that Mia had a low-cut top, and at the angle Mia was sitting at Green had a fantastic view of her breasts. Green cursed Rudolph for making this that much more difficult as she tried to keep her gaze on Mia's face, which was delightfully entertained. "Um, sure. I'll listen. I mean it can't hurt right? Tell me, how did you talk to me earlier when I was locked up?"

Mia's smile was a bit predatory as she leaned slowly forward. "I am telepathic. Somewhat."

Green's face went white. "Oh. So you can read minds" she stated in a flat voice.

"With most people it's no problem, so long as they don't know I'm not trying to do anything. I must admit, you're somehow much harder to read. Nevertheless, I can feel how much you appreciate my features." Mia smiled over at Green's suddenly blank face. "Please, don't be upset. I find it very flattering. Also I am serious when I tell you that you are harder to read. That was one of the few things I've heard from you. I was unsure if I could even send you a message . Your mind is a very hard one to crack. It's almost as if you have more thoughts then you should be having. Very unusual."

Thanking the fact that two minds seemed to have come in handy finally, Green settled back and finished her drink in one gulp, making a face and shuddering. "Look, can we get down to business? I want to find out what the catch is. If you're gonna offer me something stupid like a position in Team Rocket of course I'm going to turn it down, you know that right?" Green asked she she set the glass down firmly on the table. She was starting to get annoyed at Mia's constant smug smile.

"Nothing like that. Believe you me, this organization won't be around in a year. I've come to discuss a separate opportunity. You find this whole Pokemon League thing very childish, don't you?"

The question came so suddenly that Green didn't have time to think up a lie. "Yeah. Yeah, a little I guess. What's your point?"

"I thought you would. Green, I sense a real talent from you. Your attitude in combat is so relaxed and sure for one your age, and you command your pokemon extremely well. Don't you think it's a shame that all you have to work for is being the Pokemon Champion?" Mia finally leaned back and steepled her fingers as she waited patiently for a response.

"I'm not sure I get you. Isn't being the Pokemon Champion like, the best there is? What else is there?"

Mia only responded with, "What if you could be one of the Lords of Creation?"

Green worked her mouth for a minute. "Wha... huh? What does that even fucking mean?"

With a small and quiet laugh Mia got up and took her time before answering, pouring them each another drink. This time she noticed that Mia added a mixer without comment. When Green had a new drink and Mia was settled down, she continue. "I represent a group that hopes to achieve more than this world wishes to give us. Pokemon are the ultimate source of energy and power for this world, and we intend to harness that power for the greater good of all mankind. We would literally be rebuilding this world as it should be, and you could be there with us, shaping the future."

Green took a long sip of her drink before responding. "Look, this just sounds like a lot of bullshit. This is just another gang, right? I have to admit, that bit about a Lord of Creation..."

"This is NOT a fairy tale. Hmm. I don't know exactly how to reassure you. No... wait." Mia opened a drawer in her desk and pulled out a shard of stone, which Green could see was covered in writing. "Now, if anyone asks you stole this. I was supposed to give it to Giovanni tomorrow. Please, at least think my words over. I don't want a decision on your part today. After all, this group is still very much in the preliminary stages. But, I would like to know one thing. Will you at least consider it?"

Slowly, Green reached out and took the stone shard, looking it over. One side was marred with deep, precise cuts that looked very much like hieroglyphics. In one corner, along the cracked edge, there was the corner of a picture that Green couldn't decipher. The thing seemed oddly heavy. "I just don't know if I can believe you. This is all kinda bizarre" was all she could say.

Mia's eyes were unwaveringly set on Green's. "But will you consider it?"

Green sighed. This was confusing, and she didn't exactly trust this crazy woman as far as she could throw her. Still, agreeing for the time being seemed to be a good idea. At least she considered Green a friend, and apparently disliked Team Rocket. Plus, apart from anything else, she didn't completely dislike the idea. "Alright. I'll consider it. Can you answer me some questions too, as long as I've agreed to this?" Green slipped the shard into a pocket, trying not to think about it. When Mia only nodded, Green went straight into the questioning. "First of all, where's Regirock? He's not in the pokeballs I gathered earlier, and I've been more than patient. Second, what did you do to Janine earlier? I want you to take it off her, whatever you did."

"Those are sort of half question, half demand, but I shall acquiesce. Espeon?" Mia turned to the corner of the room where a purplish lump stretched, yawned, and walked calmly to her side. A red gem glittered on Espeon's forehead as it sat down next to Mia. It watched Green evenly as Mia began to stroke its' head. "My Espeon can control most human minds, it's true. And it IS still maintaining a psychic link. I will release your friend Janine when we finish here, you have my word. As to Regirock, I regret to tell you that Gutman has already made sure it got sent off. It should be in Giovanni's hands very soon."

Feeling her anger rise, Green got to her feet and glared at Mia. "You did this to keep me busy, didn't you? This whole this was just a fucking ruse!"

Mia shrugged. "Believe what you want. Personally I'd think it a stupid ruse if we gave you back your pokemon just to buy time until we actually steal one of them. If I was really on their side, wouldn't have I insisted that we sent all of the pokemon to Giovanni?" As Green began to consider her words and lose that anger, Mia continued in a slightly consoling voice. "I'm sorry. I tried to get him to wait until tomorrow so we could deliver them all in person, along with you. He was quite insistent to send it tonight however, as were those two hoodlums he cavorts with. All isn't lost though. They sent it to Saffron City, Silph Corporation headquarters. Giovanni is going to be moving out soon, maybe this evening. I'm sorry, I can't help you more than that. It will be hard enough explaining away you receiving your other pokemon back, and I need to maintain my cover in this organization a while longer."

"Wow. That's a lot to take in. Thank you, Mia. I think this is the luckiest break I've gotten in a while. Can I please ask you one more question?" Green asked, casually. He'd had time to think over the proposal some more, and wanted to know something.

Mia's smile was possibly just a tad bit forced. "Please do."

"Your two friends, Jules and Vincent. They're in on this with you too?"

By the expression on Mia's face, she had not expected that question at all. She took a long moment to answer. "Almost certainly."

Cocking her head to the right, Green gave a questioning look.

"They are men of opportunity. We have always thought generally along the same lines. I have no doubt they will join us in our plans once they see how the future will pan out." Mia's voice was clipped and sure again, but Green could see she wasn't smiling nearly as much. "Now, I believe your friend Janine has broken out of her handcuffs. I imagine she will be here in less than a..."

The door opened up, and Gutman stepped into the room. He looked like he was about to give Mia a piece of paperwork, but stopped with his hand outstretched and his mouth open at the scene in front of him. "Wha..."

"Ah, Gutman. Good. I was going to call you to come and... take..." Mia started, then faltered. There was an awkward moment where Mia sought for words, before waving at Gutman in an annoyed fashion. "Hypno, just kill him please. It'll be so much easier."

"What? You fucking traitorous cunt! I'll bash your face in!" Gutman roared, and charged Mia across the room while completely ignoring Green. He didn't get more than five steps before something stirred between the two, and Hypno came out of the coat rack with its pendulum swinging. Once Gutman saw the thing moving, he stopped dead in his tracks. Green could see Hypno's eyes glowing a deep orange as it forced Gutman onto his knees.

For a moment Green thought Hypno wasn't even doing anything to Gutman. His expression didn't even change from the anger he had felt. However, Green noticed the first drop of blood as it dripped out of his nostril. Gutman's expression turned very slowly to that of surprise, then horror as the drip became steady, and then became a small stream. He didn't make another noise as he slumped over sideways, his blood soaking his clothes from the neck all the way down his front.

Green finally closed her mouth as Mia walked up and stripped Gutman's belt off his waist, checking a leather pouch that was hanging off. Seeming satisfied, she looked to Green. "Here, take his Hariyama. It's not much, but now you at least have six pokemon again. Now, it'd be best if you'd leave. There will be others here soon. If you take the elevator to the second floor, you can leave out of the fire exit. I've disabled the alarms." Green caught the pokeball that Mia threw her way. Hypno waited patiently "And please do keep out of any overt trouble. Good luck with the rescue of your pokemon."

Thinking that it was probably better to run now, Green merely left the room, closing the door behind her. She entered again, grabbed the rest of the bottle of rum without speaking, and left.

She was outside of the room for no more than a few seconds when Janine rounded a corner, looking frantic. When she saw Green her face broke out into a huge smile and she closed the distance in a few strides, grabbing Green up in a hug that lifted her off her feet. "Oh, thank god you're ok. I was so worried."

Green smiled back as she patted Janine on the back. "Yes, I am. You don't have to worry anymore. You can let me down now." Once Janine had put her down, Green hefted the bag from the office. "I got all of the pokemon back, except Regirock. I think Giovanni already has it. That doesn't matter right now though, let's get out of here." Green reached out and took Janine's hand, giving it a reassuring squeeze.

Janine looked so relieved that she just nodded, and followed Green as she led her to the elevator, not letting go of Green's hand. The elevator opened right up when Green pushed the button, and the two of them just enjoyed the ride after Green pressed the button to their destination.

The elevator jerked to a stop at the first floor, and Green let go of Janine's hand. "We're probably going to have to fight our way out." They both reached for pokeballs, and waited for the doors to open.

The doors slid open to reveal the casino lobby, and people were moving around everywhere. A dark haired woman stood in front of the elevator, hands on her hips as she glared inside at them. She was wearing black jeans, a purple tank top and had startling red eyes. Next to her was an Alakazam, both spoons pointing their direction. "Alright, get out of that elevator. I'm Sabrina, Gym Leader of Saffron City. I'm here with the authorities, and you are under arrest."

At the mention of Sabrina, Green gave a little start of surprise that Sabrina seemed to notice. Trying to play it off for now, Green growled in anger and took a step forward. "You idiot. I'm eleven and I've obviously been beaten. Do you really think I'm the most likely suspect?"

Sabrina frowned, but looked towards Janine, who shrugged. "Sorry. I'm not going to give you any help."

Not wanting to cause a fuss, Green sighed and explained, "There's a dead Team Rocket member named Gutman down below. A chick named Mia too. If you hurry, you might catch her." She stepped out of the elevator and motioned her in.

Sabrina looked surprised. "What? Her name was what?"

Green gave her a curious look. "Mia."

Abruptly turning away from the two of them, Sabrina barked orders to four men standing nearby with police vests over casual attire. "Get down there and hurry!" As they rushed past, Sabrina gave both Green and Janine a long look. "I think you had better come with me. I'm not going to let you off the hook that easily. Please, don't reach for your pokeballs."

The two followed Sabrina silently as she left them to the front of the casino where the lobby was crawling with law enforcement, mostly carting people away or questioning others. It only took a moment before someone cried out in relief, and Marta came barreling through the crowd with tears in her eyes. She grabbed both Janine and Green with an arm each, and held them tightly as she sobbed gratefully. Janine patted Marta's arm consolingly, looking grateful, if a little embarrassed. Green just held Marta back, and let the older girl just cry it out.

"I'm sorry to interrupt," said a soothing voice that sounded like it actually was, "but are you Green? I'm Erika, Gym Leader of Celadon City. I really am sorry, but if you are Green we need to ask you some questions. It could be very important."

Green pulled away from Marta and looked up at Erika. She was wearing a light yet elegant kimono embroidered with a floral pattern, and Green could see she even had fucking geta on. "Yes, I'm Green. My pokemon Regirock's been taken to Saffron City, Silph Company. I have to get him back before Giovanni leaves that place. Can we please hold the questioning off until later?"

"Yes, I think that would be appropriate given the circumstances." Sabrina said, her gaze wandering from Erika to Marta. "There might not be much time."

Erika smiled and nodded. "Quite alright. You answered most of my questions anyhow. May I just say Green that I am in your debt for the assistance you rendered to Tamia and Lori. I am in your debt for their safety." She gave a low, formal bow to Green, who blushed as the attention of the room slowly drifted their way.

"It's fine. Really. Thank you." Green looked around and saw Tami standing with a weary looking Lori. She waved awkwardly at them both, noticing that Lori openly smiled at her this time. Green felt bad. She had completely forgotten about saving Lori too. She turned to Marta as Erika stood back up and the room went back to normal, as it were. "Look, how did you get here so fast with all these people? Did you run to Saffron or something?"

Marta shook her head. "Blue brought Sabrina here. They were at Erika's Gym when I showed up."

"Blue?" Green asked, looking annoyed. "C'mon, really?"

Sabrina crossed her arms and narrowed her eyes. "He came to the city for the badge, and was concerned about the state of things there as I and others around were. We had a little more trouble leaving the city than we thought we were going to have, but not much. He's extremely annoying. You're going to insist on coming with us to Silph headquarters, right?" When Green nodded, Sabrina tooka radio off her belt and pressed a button. "Nurse Joy, please send a Chansey over here to the front lobby please."

Green was wondering what was going on as a Chansey waddled up into view, happily adjusting its' apron as it came up to Sabrina, who just pointed over at Green. She backed up a step, unsure as Chansey walked right up to her as its egg began to glow gold. Chansey reached down and grabbed the egg, or at least the golden glow around the egg, because Green could see the white thing still in her pouch. Chansey gently placed the energy egg against Green's chest and pushed, surprising Green immensely when it slid right through her skin like it was nothing. One of Green's eyes that had been a bit swollen was suddenly easier to open, and Green gingerly touched her face. Probing the formerly bruised spots brought no pain. "How?" Green asked, truly amazed.

"Softboiled" Sabrina retorted, sounding a bit bored. "We will leave within the hour. Erika, could I please speak with you."

Before Erika could talk, Green shook her head. "No way! Sabrina, I need to speak to you real quick. Please. I've been waiting for this."

Scowling, Sabrina turned on Green. "What is so important that it can't wait?"

Green glared right back, scowling up into the taller girl's eyes. Green beckoned Sabrina down, and she took a knee as Green leaned in to whisper. "I'm losing my mind. I'm getting confused which memories are mine. I think that I'm two people. Please, if you can help me then it is important, and it can't wait."

Sabrina stared directly into Green's eyes without blinking while Green stared right back, hands balled into fists. Then Sabrina stood up, and nodded. "Yes. Come with me." She raised a hand at Janine, who had taken a step forward. "Alone."

"What? Don't tell me what to do!" Janine snapped.

"This is an immensely personal journey into one's psyche. I would no rather bring you into her mind than I would discuss your deepest secrets with the world at large. It it nothing I revel in."

Janine looked at Sabrina's extremely serious expression and averted her gaze, nodding. "Sorry. I didn't know."

Sabrina patted her shoulder. "There's no reason you could have. I'll keep her safe." She took her hand away and put it on Green's shoulder, leading her silently away.

"There's... no danger or anything, is there?" Green asked once they were out of earshot.

"Immense" was Sabrina's only response.

Back in the lowest basement, Mia calmly packed her things up, taking care to step around Gutman's body as she did so. She occasionally had a sip of her martini, and made sure to eat most of the few remaining olives in the jar. The door burst open, and two people nearly rushed into the room. Cairo and Cook stood just inside the doorway, holding back a few more Team Rocket members that were crowded outside. Mia popped the last olive into her mouth and washed it down with the rest of her martini, placing the glass onto the desk. "Hello there. What's the issue?" she asked casually.

"Gutman's dead! Um... we have police in the building! They're coming fast! We need to get the hell out of here!" Cook called urgently, obviously panicking a bit.

"Why is Gutman dead?" Cairo asked as well, not looking much better than her partner. "What the hell happened here?"

Mia gestured to the body as she passed Cook a packed bag. "Gutman was a traitor. I'm afraid he informed the authorities of our operations in exchage for leniency."

Both Cairo and Cook looked at each other, and Mia narrowed her eyes. This was an important moment. Casually, Mia motioned with her hand and saw Hypno move from behind the desk into view. This could possibly go wrong.

Cook looked up to Mia with a smirk. "We always knew he was up to something."

Nodding, Cairo was quick to agree. "Yeah, always actin' kinda suspicious, ya know? Like he had secrets to hide."

Seeing their expressions and getting what they were after with long glances to Gutman's body, Mia sighed and took out two pokeballs. "Fine, you may claim his remaining pokemon." Watching the two squabble for a moment before setting on which one they preferred, Mia released her Xatu and scratched the pokemon lovingly under its chin. An expression of bliss came over the face and it stretched out its neck happily.

One of the other Rockets shoved her way past Cairo and Cook, looking angry as she approached Mia and crossed her arms. Mia remembered her as Jesse, one of the lower ranking grunts she'd been given to command here. "Excuse me! I'm glad that you and your bird are enjoying yourselves, but we need to get out of here! They're coming down the elevator right now!" Jesse's anger wavered when she finally noticed Gutman's body on the ground, and she fidgeted nervously on the spot as she tried not to make eye contact.

Her partner, James, ran into the room after Jesse with a panicked look on his face. He laughed nervously. "Please forgive her, ma'am! She's... she's.. just a little excited!"

"What is WRONG with you two? Things like this are why you got stuck with that stupid ca-AHHHH!" Cook yelled, taking a swipe at Meowth and missing.

Their talking Meowth growled as it dodged. "Shut up, all of yas!"

Mia stopped scratching abruptly and returned her Hypno and Espeon and glared at all of the assembled Rockets. At the exact same time, Xatu followed her gaze and narrowed its eyes as it mimicked Mia's expression. The effect was disconcerting enough to command all of their attention. Everyone backed slowly away from Jesse, who inched away from Gutman's body and coughed awkwardly. "Everyone, gather around Xatu. I think we're ready to leave, right?" Mia asked pleasantly, gathering her bag. "Xatu, teleport."

Wordlessly, everyone scampered around Xatu as it spread its wings wide. It glowed a bright white, and then with a flash everyone disappeared.

With another flash the six of them appeared in Saffron City, in front of the Silph Co building. Mia returned Xatu and waved them all towards the building with an annoyed expression. "Go. Have the night off or whatever, I'm going to get a hotel room." Without checking what the others were doing, Mia wandered off, sighing with relief when she was finally alone.

Pulling her pokedex out of a pocket, Mia dialed a number as she sauntered lazily down the road. She held the thing to her ear and almost immediately someone answered. "Mia. What news do you have?"

Mia smiled up at the stars. "Good. The girl has the shard. Hopefully she'll get her pokemon back tonight."

"Excellent. You're positive that she has that level of potential?" the voice asked back.

"Quite so." Mia saw the hotel she was looking for, a huge one with one of those rotating glass doors out front. She loved those. She could already see the hot tub waiting for her upstairs. "Well, must dash Cyrus. Duty calls. Ta."

"Indeed. Until next time."

Mia put her pokedex away and took her time with the spinning glass door, smiling like a schoolgirl. The bellhop, who had noticed she had a Team Rocket uniform on, was looking straight ahead and sweating as he tried not to meet her gaze.