Disclaimers: See Chapter 1. Surfin' Bird belongs to the Trashmen.

"No great thing is created suddenly." – Epictetus

1 month later, airship's training room, somewhere in the skies of Sinnoh.

A boy with raven hair sat unconscious on the floor, shackled by his arm and legs to the wall. As he began to stir, he tried to move, discovering his restraints and the shock collar recently placed around his neck. The doors to the room opened as J and one of her henchmen sauntered in. Ash immediately took notice of the two figures, screaming her name in recognition.

Lester peered through the two-way mirror in the adjacent room, having a clear view of the action in the training room, where he had first woken up on the airship after being kidnapped from the orphanage 8 years ago. Thanks to the speakers in this room, Lester could also hear what was going on as well, every word exchanged between J and Ash reaching his ears. Two henchmen were seated at either side of Lester.

"So run this by me again, why on earth did mistress insist that I watch this?" Lester asked the henchman to his left, who was shoving popcorn in his mouth, treating the scene in the next room like it was a thriller movie. The henchman pretty much ignored Lester, not hearing his question. Lester rolled his eyes. The other henchman in the room glared at his partner before replying.

"I have no idea. But we are under strict instructions to watch you and make sure you observe all of this. And don't even think of dozing off, or you will awaken in a very shocking manner." Lester rolled his eyes at the henchman's wordplay, before wondering to himself how on earth anyone could fall asleep watching this. Before he could continue observing the figures in the training room, he heard a loud yawn to his left. Turning to check the source of that, he found the henchman to his left had finished his popcorn and was now leaning back against the wall, snoring loudly. Rolling his eyes again, Lester watched at the other henchman reached over and began to shake his partner, berating him for his laziness at the same time. Lester sighed, as he realized that J had kidnapped Ash for the sole purpose of making him her apprentice.

That night.

A henchman shoved a cup of coffee in Lester's face, as he was prohibited from leaving the room until Ash had made his decision. That said; J didn't want Lester to fall asleep either, since she wanted him to witness every second of the action in the training room. Lester took the coffee, his sixth one tonight, and downed it in one gulp, ignoring the burning sensation running down his throat. He was told that would be his last coffee. After that, he would be given energy drinks. Lester sighed. This was going to be a long night for both him and Ash, who sat awake considering his options.

The next morning.

Despite the steady supply of caffeine, Lester struggled to stay awake as he watched J speak to Ash again. When he heard that Ash's Pokemon were frozen in stone to be kept as hostages, Lester's eyes widened in shock. He wasn't made to give up his Pokemon when he was captured. Lester sighed as he listened to J rationalize her reasons for wanting Ash as an apprentice, his left eye twitching slightly when he heard J tell Ash that his skill exceeded that of the morons on her airship. Why did he have to be grouped with people like the buffoons sitting next to him? He ran his fingers along his own shock collar as J explained the purpose of the one on Ash. The unpleasant memories just seem to keep coming back. After Ash finished his meal, and was escorted out the training room, a henchman tapped Lester on the shoulder and told him that he could leave. Lester stretched, walking out the room to take a nice, long nap after being kept awake the previous night. As he headed to his room, Lester wondered if Ash would be put through the same paces he was when Jane had kidnapped him.

3 days later.

Lester was once again made to watch Ash from the adjacent room as the boy was told by J that he would be named Nao Kilesen, the Black Raven starting from today. Lester sighed, remembering that he was not made to give up his name when he became Jane's apprentice, though he was rarely called his real name by her. For the next six hours, he observed Ash being put through the same intense training he was, sighing as more unpleasant memories forced themselves to the surface of his conscious. Was this the reason J made him observe Ash? So he could be reminded of the failure of an apprentice he was? He was a henchman just like almost everyone else on the airship, why weren't they being made to watch this? Lester really had no idea. As Ash was taken away to rest, Lester walked off, his mind full of unanswered questions.

6 hours later, the skies of Kanto near Pallet Town.

After a brief stopover at the Viridian Forest, where Lester received word that Ash had captured a Shiny Drapion and a giant Scizor, along with a large number of other Pokemon, the airship took off on a course for Pallet Town. If Lester's memory served him well, Ash's first mission was to steal the Kanto starter Pokemon with J for a client. Lester sighed, remembering how J's mother had initially tried to sell the starter Pokemon he had for a profit before deciding to give them to him. To rub the memory in further, J had made Lester plan out that mission like the tactician he was. Lester wondered how Ash would fare; having to return to his hometown and come face to face with the people he loved.

1 hour later, airship's training room.

The unconscious Ash, held down by henchmen, woke up abruptly as his mistress slapped him hard across the face. J shouted at the boy.

"You little brat! How dare you disobey me?"

In the adjacent room, Lester flinched slightly as he heard every stinging word from J's mouth, courtesy of the room's speakers. Once again, he was forced to watch as Ash was scolded by J. From what Lester knew, Ash attempted to rebel against the henchmen's treatment of his friends and family by attacking them with his Pokemon. He remembered his own attempted rebellion, an act that constituted such a breech in security that mention of its details was forbidden. Lester observed as J slapped Ash and practically shoved the name "Nao" down his throat. He was never abused that harshly, apart from the tattoo he got, so all his pity was concentrated on Ash. What happened next was completely unexpected by Lester.

"Bring Nao's Pokemon here at once." J ordered. Lester narrowed his eyes, wondering what she was up to.

When Ash's Pokemon, frozen in stone, and sealed in capsules were brought in, Lester saw the Pikachu, Grotle, Staraptor, Monferno, Buizel, and Gible that Ash owned. He especially remembered Pikachu, having seen it action a few times against J, and on television at the Ever Grande Conference in Hoenn a year ago. A Pichu with an unusual spiky ear was also brought in a cage. J smirked.

"It's time to break your spirit." Lester's eyes widened as a big hole opened in the centre of the room, immediately realizing what J was planning to do. He saw Ash struggle as his stone Pokemon were dropped into the hole. He saw Ash weep as he saw his Pokemon for what could very well be the last time. The Pichu was spared as J decided that it would be Ash's new Pokemon.

Lester sighed heavily. J was really taking things too far. Even he didn't have to give up his Pokemon. They were the heart and soul of any Trainer. Taking them away from one may very well kill him on the inside. Bowing his head, out of sight of the henchmen watching him in the room, Lester let a few tears fall to the floor, his goggles concealing his teary eyes.

1 hour later, J's office.

J finished filing her paperwork on the mission completed today, and had just finished a call from another client, when a knock was heard on her door. She pushed a button on her desk.

"Come in."

The door opened, and Lester strode in casually.

"You called?" J frowned slightly at Lester's monotone voice, but decided to ignore it.

"Yes. I suppose you saw the example I made of my apprentice?" Lester nodded.

"Who? As…I mean, Nao?" J had a sinking feeling that Lester almost said her apprentice's real name on purpose, but decided to continue anyway.

"I suppose you realized that he now occupies a position of great authority here, a capacity you used to fill with my mother." Lester sighed and rolled his eyes.

"Get to the point." J was getting incensed at Lester's apathetic tone and perceived disrespect.

"Don't act all dull around me. You should be grateful that you still have your name and your Pokemon, something Nao dosen't! Someone needs to put you in your place."

"Meh, it's not something I haven't heard before. If I recall correctly, I'm in my current place as a henchman because of your mother. My life for the last 8 years has been about me being put in some position or other."

"Trying to be a smart aleck, eh? Well get ready to be put in another place, and who better to do it than Nao." Lester raised an eyebrow.

"What scheme are you up to this time?"

"You recall how I made you watch the hell I put Nao through, the same hell you yourself once experienced. I want you to watch as this boy becomes something you could never hope to achieve." Lester narrowed his eyes. Ignoring it, J continued.

"Every commander needs his soldiers. And if my apprentice is to fulfill my expectations, he will need help. Today will mark the beginning of a new group of warriors for the Black Raven, the Chosen Elites." Lester shrugged.

"So you called me into your office to rant about your plans?" J was really getting ticked.

"No, I didn't call you in here just so you could listen. There is another reason I had you observe Nao."

"Oh really? And what would that be?"

"Look at how his training is so similar to yours. You were once raised to be an apprentice, but now you will occupy a new position. You are to become the first of the Chosen Elites. This new group shall begin with you. As my mother created the framework, I shall now build on it. You should be honored." Lester narrowed his eyes and clenched his fists.

"Honored? For your information, I want no part in the nonsense that sprouts from your mouth. Tell your plans to someone who actually cares. And for the record, I pity in advance, any poor soul you manage to seduce into joining your planned posse." J slammed her hands on her desk and stood up from her chair.

"DO NOT speak to me like that, Invictus. You should be grateful that I am even considering you for this. This is your chance at redemption, for "The Incident" which made you fall from grace. You could have been where Nao is today, if you didn't develop that mental disorder. For that you can only blame yourself. It is your fault after all." Lester's oval jewel changed color from blue to red.


"You bastard, who the hell do you think you are? If I wanted to, no one would hear from you ever again." Lester's jewel immediately changed from red to yellow.

"HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA! Ooooooooo…Speaking of hearing, what is the most common cause of hearing loss in a man? It happens when his wife wants to talk to him! BWAHAHAHAHA! Oh by the way, if you don't want to know how I really feel about you, I suggest NOT opening the drawer on the bottom left side of your desk."

J eyed her mother's former apprentice suspiciously for a minute, before peering at said drawer. She opened it, thinking that he was trying to pull a fast one on her.


J looked up from her drawer, her face almost completely covered in cream. A flattened cream pie was attached to a large bouncing spring. The spring itself was attached to the bottom of the drawer J had just opened. Lester burst out laughing once again.

"Dang. You fell for it! HAHAHAHAHA! I should express how I feel right now, in song! A-well-a, everybody's heard about the bird. Bird, bird, bird, b-bird's the word. A-well-a, bird, bird, bird, the bird is the word. A-well-a, bird, bird, bird, well, the bird is the word. A-well-a, bird, bird, bird, b-bird's the word." Having gotten over the shock of suddenly being hit the face by a pie; J's rage was at an all-time high as she listened to Lester sing "Surfin' Bird" in an unnaturally high-pitched voice. It was time to end that annoying repetitive song. She opened a drawer and grabbed a familiar remote control.

"Alright Invictus, now you've done it! It's time for…" SNAP! SNAP! SNAP! SNAP! SNAP! SNAP! SNAP! SNAP! SNAP! SNAP! "Ow!" J dropped the remote and clutched her hand as something small and fast hit it multiple times. She shook her hand to get rid of the stinging sensation and looked down at the floor. Ten rubber bands were lying at her feet. J was puzzled

"What the hell?" the huntress, wiping some cream from her eyes, looked up at Lester, who had stopped singing by now. In the time it took for her to reach the remote control, Lester had drawn two guns, and was pointing them straight at her face. The gun in his left hand was obviously a toy gun, made of wood and designed to fire off ten rubber bands in rapid succession. He had certainly used it to make J drop the remote. The gun in his right hand looked suspiciously like a Desert Eagle. The resemblance was uncanny. J's eyes widened as Lester pulled the trigger.


A concentrated jet of water shot out of the toy gun in Lester's right hand. The water hit J squarely in the face, washing off some of the cream. J sputtered as the water forced some of the cream into her mouth. Seeing her reaction, Lester put away his toy guns and began laughing all over again. That was the last straw for J. Stretching out her foot, she stepped on the button of the remote control on the floor.

Lester's shock collar activated, and started to course electricity throughout his system. Instead of screaming in pain however, Lester's crazy personality began to laugh even harder until he fell unconscious. J switched the shock collar off, and shook her head, trying to rid her mind of the residual echo of Lester's laughter. She briefly considered confiscating his toy guns, but shook that thought off when she realized that he almost certainly had extras. Where did he get all those prank items from? Did he raid the neighborhood joke shop whenever they attacked a city? J couldn't care less about that now, as long as his antics didn't bring down her whole organization.

"Damn that crazy son of a bitch…"J cursed as she wiped the last of the cream and water from her face. When she was done, she summoned a henchman and ordered him to take Lester away, with a special punishment in mind for his stunt. J turned to a large filing cabinet at the corner of her office. Contained inside it were the records of every henchman in her employ, sorted alphabetically.

Shifting through the drawers of records, J found what she was looking for. Lester's file was old and battered, and the tab of that file folder was completely ripped off, almost as if someone would rather have it hidden. All of Lester's mission records were inside, with a copy of Dr. Bannon's diagnosis on his condition. J grabbed the sheet with Lester's personal information. Front and side view photos of his face were glued to the top right corner. What was most glaring to a reader was that under the space reserved for a name, the words "Dawson, Lester" were crossed out with a black pen so violently; it almost ripped through the paper. Scrawled right next to the cancellation were the words "Failed Experiment". J smirked, remembering the source of the words with which she so liked to label Lester. The occupation space of the page had the word "Apprentice" slashed out, with "Henchman" written next to it. Pulling out a pen, J crossed off that word too, and wrote "Chosen Elite" next to it. J reached for an index card and glued it to the front of the Lester's file. Thinking about "The Incident", she wrote on the index card: "Keep an eye out for this one; I don't want the first Elite to become a fallen Elite."

The top drawer of the filing cabinet was empty. Grabbing another index card, J wrote "Black Raven" on it, before slotting it into the card bracket on the drawer. Picking up a file folder full of Ash's information, she placed both it and Lester's file inside the now labeled top drawer. Before J closed the drawer, she wondered exactly how many files would be added to it in the years to come.

2 hours later, Lester's room.

Lester blinked rapidly as the light invaded his eyes. His jewel back to its usual blue, he opened his eyes fully and stretched his arms, noticing that he was lying upon his bed. Almost immediately, Lester clutched his left shoulder as a dull pain made itself known to him. That pain felt familiar, Lester was sure of it. He struggled to remember the last time he felt such pain. The last time he felt it was…two…two years ago…when he was…he was…tattooed.

Eyes widened, Lester tore off his shirt and glanced at the affected area. Sure enough, there was another tattoo, right above the "Invictus" word tattoo applied to him when he was 14. This new tattoo was a stylized raven. Lester's eyes widened in surprise, and he gritted his teeth, as he realized that for the third time in his life, he had been forced into a position in J's faction against his will. While the promise of more authority brought by the position was welcome, Lester disliked the publicity this newly founded group was sure to receive, just as he was comfortably settling into the newspapers not writing about his deeds. And to top it off, he would have to answer to Ash now. While he was sure that there would be no problems with following commands, he was unsure of the leader Ash would be. Lester decided to get up and wash cold water over his now larger tattoo to relieve some of the pain.

Sighing heavily as he did this, he thought about his new life as an Elite. Apart from the new tattoo, it might be something he could get used to. Not having the henchman ask him stupid questions would be a plus. And he could command them again, just like he did as Jane's apprentice. Walking out his bathroom, Lester did a double-take when he saw his bed. On the wall above the headboard, there was now a giant wall painting of his tattoo. Gripping his head to get over this sudden shock, he walked over to his closet and noticed that his henchmen uniforms were gone. In their place were black leather jackets, black jeans, plain black T-shirts, and black sneakers. What was most glaring to Lester was that all the jackets had iron-on patches of his tattoo on the left chest area. Lester let out another heavy sigh. J was really insisting on shoving this logo down his throat, to emphasize the point that he was now an Elite, like it or not. There was no note on the nightstand to explain anything, and in Lester's mind, J's actions spoke volumes. He belonged to her, and she could place him wherever she wanted.

After changing into the new outfit and slapping his oval jewel onto the right chest area of his jacket, Lester sat on his bed, massaging his temples. If J was really going through with her plan, he was merely the first, more will soon follow. Lester remembered his words to J, spoken just 2 hours ago.

"I pity in advance, any poor soul you manage to seduce into joining your planned posse."

When he spoke those words, Lester really meant them. Having this new group of Elites would only draw more people into this murky and shady business. Lester knew that the group could only grow from here, and he was their unwilling first member. He sighed, a heavy burden weighing on his mind. Usually, the first person to join a group would be in a position of prestige, experience, and respect. Lester didn't feel that this was the case for him. He would soon have to meet his new leader face-to-face, having observed him from the sidelines for the last 4 months. If they were to work together, he just hoped that they would both get off on the right foot. Lester hesitantly walked out his room and went off to meet Ash, consoling him on the loss of his Pokemon only a few hours ago.

Ash looked up as Lester walked into the training room, unsure how he should react to this stranger. Lester simply offered his hand and introduced himself. Ash still looked suspicious, despite being told by J of the formation of the Elites. Lester decided to speak first.

"You know, we have a lot in common." Ash still looked skeptical.

"How so?"

And that began a long conversation, where the two of them exchanged back stories and their experiences with J's faction. Ash was slightly surprised to find that Lester was once in the same position as him now, but was glad to know someone else wasn't here on their own accord. Lester smiled, it seems that one way to gain another's trust was through conversations like these.

Despite Lester's initial reservations, Ash proved to be a capable leader. They trained together occasionally, and sometimes hung out in the break room. While Lester was initially resentful that he was now in a lower position than the apprentice rank he once occupied, he came to hold a large amount of respect for Ash, due to how capable he was, and how well he bonded with his new Pokemon. He could tell that his new leader also respected him as well, a trait required for any group to function as a coherent unit.

Speaking of a group, Lester could only watch as ten other people were eventually inducted in the ranks of the Elites over the next 3 years. As the group grew, so did their reputation as Black Raven's followers. Black Raven himself was widely chronicled in the media for his vast and destructive crime spree. Lester, now 19 years old, sighed; remembering the various ways in which new members were brought in, as he realized that J's idea for the group was coming to fruition. Every time someone joined the Elites, Lester was present as the new member was introduced. More often than not, it was Ash that was responsible for enlisting them, with J's approval. Being the first Elite, Lester was frequently asked to train any new recruits, becoming a mentor figure to a number of them. As they gained experience, an Elite would become a veteran. Lester had the unusual distinction of being declared a veteran when he was inducted into the group, due to his long history and experience with the faction. His role in particular, was the group's strategist and Pokemon researcher. Like any group, the Elites had their own internal scuffles, disagreements, and problems with each other, possibly due to their very different origins and ragtag arrangement. Lester snarled as he remembered the last time a new member joined the Elites only a week ago, an example of one such disagreement.

A week ago, airship's meeting room.

Ash had just finished introducing the Elites' newest addition. While some of them seemed uninterested, others took a keen eye to the new recruit, wondering what might be brought to the table with this one. Lester, like he did with all the other members when they first joined, gazed at the new recruit, trying to find the potential that Ash saw for the person to be Elite material. Before the meeting ended, Ash called on Lester to give an address to the new member. Lester stood up and walked to the front of the table.

"Allow me to congratulate you for taking this life changing decision to join us. On behalf of the other Elites, I extend a warm welcome to you as one of us. As I'm sure you're aware, joining the Elites is not a decision to be taken lightly. Your skills will be tested, your will to perform shall be scrutinized, and your loyalty to these ranks will be examined. But rest assured, we are here to assist you every step of the way. However, there will be those who decide to stand in our way…" Lester's jewel changed from blue to red. "…IN WHICH CASE WE SHALL CRUSH THOSE MEDDLING AND IMPULSIVE FOOLS. NO ONE SHALL INTERFERE WITH OUR GOALS! AND THOSE THAT DO WILL PAY DEARLY!" Lester's jewel changed again, this time to yellow. "Ooooooo…And once they are thoroughly defeated, we shall draw mustaches on their faces with permanent markers! Mustaches are funny! AHAHAHAHAHAHA!"

As Lester kept on laughing, many of the other Elites rolled their eyes or groaned at his words. In their eyes, their most experienced comrade was making a mockery of their group and embarrassing them. The new recruit in particular, was surprised by the varied emotions Lester showed throughout his address. The Elites stood to leave, some of them mocking Lester or yelling at him to be quiet next time. Lester smirked at he saw them walk to the door. A timer was counting down in his head.

When the door slid open, a loud bang was heard, followed by some smoke, causing those closest to the door to back away suddenly, bumping into the people behind them. Some of them fell in a heap due to the surprise, groaning in pain. Lester laughed with renewed vigor, as his prank had succeeded. Being the last person to enter the meeting room, Lester had shoved some ring caps for toy cap guns under the door. When the door was opened, it slid across the ring caps. The pressure put on the ring caps by the door caused the gunpowder inside to go off, creating the sudden noise and smoke. Ash and the unaffected Elites simply sighed as the group had failed to get along again. Lester simply stepped over the pile consisting of some his fellow dazed comrades, and continued down the corridor to his room, laughing all the way.

For the next week, Lester kept a sharp lookout for retaliation. He still believed that the other Elites had it coming, since they were mad at him for his mental condition. Some of them did in fact try to figuratively strangle him, but he managed to dodge every attempt to do so. Lester looked around. His dart gun, rubber band gun, and water pistol were loaded, just in case another Elite tried to get at him again. If that didn't deter them, it was a last resort, but Lester kept his wrist cannon at the ready, though he hoped he wouldn't have to use it on one of his comrades.

Thinking about his missions, Lester found that his next mission tomorrow, was to steal an Alakazam and a Glaceon from a rich family living in Hearthome City in Sinnoh. Considering the care they could afford for those Pokemon, Lester wasn't surprised that the client wanted them. After that, Lester's next mission was a week later, at the Valley of Steel in the Hoenn region, where he was supposed to capture a giant Steelix.

The next day, Hearthome City, Sinnoh Region.

Lester, his jewel a bright red, stared at a mansion, beautifully constructed and elegantly painted pink. Beyond that fence lived the targets. The henchmen accompanying him were grumbling, after it took them quite a while to find the mansion, which was located in a part of the city where few people went. Lester sighed at the henchmen's complaints.


That did the trick. The henchmen quickly shut up, thinking that dihydrogen monoxide was a dangerous gas Lester had somehow managed to obtain. What they didn't know was that dihydrogen monoxide was merely a complex and obscure chemical name for water. Lester smirked. Sometimes it was just too easy. If the other Elites heard about this, and knew what Lester was talking about, those henchmen will become a laughing stock. Lester's jewel changing to blue, they walked around to the back of the mansion. In the garden beyond the fence, statues of Dialga, Palkia, and Giratina in its Origin Forme were arranged in a triangular formation around a massive statue of Arceus.

What really drew Lester's attention to the statues, apart from the eye-catching detail, was that a diamond the size of a ping pong ball had been placed in the chest plate of Dialga's statue. The shoulder plates of Palkia's statue featured two pearls the size of lacrosse balls. The yellow segments of Giratina's statue appeared to be sculpted from platinum. What was most impressive was Arceus' statue, the wheel on it was created from pure gold, with four emeralds studded in it. Sixteen Plates created from painted rectangular floor tiles were embedded in the pedestal of Arceus' statue. The henchmen were practically drooling at the mouth due to the potential value of the precious items featured in the statues. Lester spoke up.

"Hmmm…The statues are sculpted from limestone. Interesting choice, considering the fact that acid rain ruins this stuff." Lester received several weird looks from the henchmen, who found it odd that he should care about the material the statues were made from. The henchmen began a discussion amongst themselves.

"Just think, if we bring back that diamond, those pearls, and those metal parts, you think J will promote us to Elite status?"

"I can just see it now; we'll be among the faction's 'cream of the crop'." Lester sighed and rolled his eyes. The henchmen were beginning to get too full of themselves.

"Sorry to burst your bubble, but J will be furious if you bring any of those statue parts back, period. And besides, I do believe that new Elites are chosen by Nao." Lester was met with several glares from the henchmen.

"What the fuck do you know? You weren't chosen by Nao, you were promoted by J! And why would she be pissed at having riches brought to her anyways?" Lester shrugged.

"Have it your way, but I can almost guarantee that you people will probably wind up servicing the vans or something. In fact, I'm so sure of it that I'm willing to bet on it. If I win, you will each owe me 1,000 Poke-dollars. If you win, I will give each of you 1,000 Poke-dollars. Do we have a deal?" Lester was stared at as if he just grew a second head. The twelve henchmen accompanying him smirked.

"It's a deal. You just lost yourself 12,000 Poke-dollars." a henchman spoke. Lester shrugged again.

"We shall see. In the meantime, get us inside."

"Yes sir!"

A henchman sent out a Golem, and ordered it to use Hyper Beam. The Pokemon complied, its attack busting straight through the fence and decapitating Giratina's statue. The stone head fell a short distance from the neck it sat on just a second ago. The henchmen charged into the breach made in the fence as Lester followed at a leisurely pace. The resulting commotion caused a finely dressed man to run out the house, followed by a woman and two young girls. The man glared fiercely at the intruders.

"What is the meaning of this?" Lester looked at the man with relative disinterest.

"I am one of Black Raven's Chosen Elites, and I have come for your Alakazam and Glaceon. If you hand them over peacefully, we will be on our way and no one will get hurt." he replied in a monotone voice. The man hardened his glare.

"You criminals are not getting away with this. Go! Alakazam and Glaceon!"

"I think he was a battle, sir." a henchman pointed out to Lester, whose jewel turned red again.

"YOU THINK I DON'T KNOW THAT?" Lester's jewel changed to yellow. "But I accept his challenge. I'll give him a battle so intense; it'll take caustic soda to dissolve away the memory of it once I'm done! AHAHAHAHAHA! In the meantime, round up that woman and those girls." the henchman nodded, and went off to do as he was told. Smirking, Lester removed the jewel from the right side of his jacket. He then pocketed the color-changing stone, preventing the opponent from using it to predict his strategies based on his personality. Reaching for two Pokeballs to make it a double battle, Lester found five of his six Pokeballs, and chuckled as he remembered what he sent his Ninjask out to do.

Meanwhile, on the airship.

An Elite, returning from a mission, entered a combination on the keypad outside his room's door. While an Elite had free reign over his or her room combination, the keypads were connected to J's computer, so she knew all the combinations on the airship at all times. Unbeknownst to the Elite, he was being watched by a small insect-like Pokemon clinging to the ceiling behind him. Lester's Ninjask smirked as he took a mental note of the combination the Elite entered into his keypad. It would come in useful if his trainer had a scheme planned.

Back with Lester at Hearthome City, Sinnoh Region.

Having made his decision, Lester hurled two Pokeballs, releasing his Venusaur and Shedinja. He eyed the man briefly, before calling out an attack.

"Shedinja, use Shadow Ball on Alakazam. Venusaur, attack Glaceon with Sludge Bomb. Ha!"

Lester's Pokemon wasted no time in complying. From its halo, Shedinja charged and fired a black sphere at its target, while Venusaur attempted to nail Glaceon with globs of brown sludge from his mouth.

"Alakazam and Glaceon, dodge those attacks!" After the man's Pokemon dodged successfully, he decided to switch to offense. "Now, Glaceon, use Ice Beam on Venusaur. Alakazam, you use Shadow Ball on Shedinja! Take it out of the equation!" Glaceon shot a blue beam from its mouth at Venusaur, while Alakazam charged a black sphere with its spoons, firing it at Shedinja.

Lester considered his options. If Shadow Ball hit Shedinja, it would be instantly knocked out. But he couldn't let Venusaur get hit by the super effective Ice Beam. There was only one thing to do.

"Oooooooo…Shedinja, help Venusaur."

Shedinja performed an unusual aerial maneuver, circling the Shadow Ball and inadvertently dodging it, before diving in front of Venusaur. Shedinja took the full brunt of the Ice Beam, but its ability Wonder Guard made it immune to any offensive moves that were not super effective against it. Shedinja simply shook off the hit like it was nothing. The wayward Shadow Ball struck the arm of Palkia's statue, knocking it clean off and sending it flying into some of the Plates sticking up on the pedestal of Arceus' statue. Being made of ceramic floor tiles, they broke easily, scattering ceramic shards all over the grass. The man looked horrified at this destruction, while Lester looked as if he was having the time of his life.

"You'll pay for that! Alakazam, use Psychic on Venusaur! Glaceon, get Shedinja with your Shadow Ball!" Alakazam pointed its spoon at Venusaur, outling him in white and lifting him above the ground. Eyes widedned, Venusaur tried to struggle as he was held in the grip of the super effective move. Meanwhile, a Shadow Ball shot from Glaceon's mouth was quickly approaching Shedinja. Lester came up with a comeback to both the man's comment and his opponent's attack.

"Oooooooo…Cash, check, or credit? Hee Hee Hee. Shedinja, counter that attack with your own Shadow Ball."

The two Shadow Balls collided with each other, each pushing at the other for dominance before both flew in separate directions. One hit Arceus' statue in the left foreleg, knocking off a large portion of the stone limb. The other shot off the tip of the tail from Palkia's statue. Alakazam flung Venusaur with its attack, sending him skidding across the lawn, slamming into the pedestal of Arceus' statue. A Plate fell from the pedestal, hitting Venusaur on the head, causing him to wince slightly. Both Trainers wasted no time.

"Alakazam, use Psychic on Venusaur again. Glaceon, use Bite on Shedinja."

"Venusaur, use Sludge Bomb on Alakazam. Shedinja, use Dig. AHAHAHAHAHAHA!"

Alakazam attempted to use Psychic again, but lost its concentration as it saw globs of sludge approach it. The attack hit it squarely in the chest, bringing it down on a knee. Purple sparks surrounded Alakazam, signifying that it was now poisoned. Fangs bared, Glaceon leapt at Shedinja to bite it, who darted into the ground, completely avoiding the hit. The man looked genuinely surprised and agitated.

"But how? My Alakazam's ability is Synchronize, so your Pokemon should be poisoned as well!" Lester scoffed.

"My Venusaur is part poison type, and poison types can't get poisoned. Anyways, Venusaur, use Earthquake."

Venusaur stomped down on the ground, causing vibrations to be felt across the yard. Arceus' statue, weakened from the loss of a leg, fell when its other foreleg broke due to the vibrations, the body sloping forward broke it off from the hind legs. The statue body of the Alpha Pokemon fell on top of Dialga's statue. The tips of the rear fin on Dialga's statue broke off from the impact. The stone head of Arceus broke off the body and rolled across the ground for several feet before stopping. The legs of Dialga's statue buckled from having to support such a huge weight suddenly being placed on them. The vibration also served to disorient the two opposing Pokemon, who struggled to keep their footing on the grass. While Earthquake was an attack that normally inflicted double damage on an underground Pokemon, Shedinja's Wonder Guard kept it from taking any damage from the move. Having Alakazam and Glaceon disoriented also prevented them from sensing Shedinja's underground movements. Shedinja shot out from the ground under the poisoned Alakazam, causing it to fall over. This was the chance Lester was waiting for.

"Shedinja, use Shadow Ball."

"Glaceon, use Shadow Ball on Shedinja."

"Venusaur, block that Shadow Ball with Seed Bomb. Ha!"

Shedinja shot a Shadow Ball at point blank range, striking Alakazam, who yelped in pain and fell over from the super effective hit. Glaceon attempted to assist its teammate by sending a Shadow Ball at the occupied Shedinja, but it was negated by a stream of yellow seeds from Venusaur's mouth. Lester pointed his finger at the fallen Alakazam.

"Venusaur, use Frenzy Plant! BWAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!"

Spiked roots came out of the ground, colliding into Alakazam, and sending it flying several feet into the air. It crashed through the roof of the mansion, and a dull sickening thud was heard from inside. The Alakazam's Trainer gritted his teeth.

"Glaceon, use Ice Beam on Venusaur while it can't move!"

Glaceon complied, but before the beam could hit its target, Shedinja dived in front of Venusaur, using its ability to protect itself from damage.

"Shedinja, use Shadow Claw on Glaceon."

"Halt your attack and dodge it!"

Shedinja's extended foreleg was outlined in purple, as it charged towards Glaceon, who ducked out of the way. Forced to keep going, Shedinja's foreleg slammed into the torso of Giratina's statue. It then glided away from the statue, leaving a big indentation where its foreleg had struck. The cracked forelegs of Dialga's statue gave out from the weight of Arceus' stone body on top, causing both statues to fall over sideways, with the ends of the stone Dialga's legs breaking off completely. The spikes jutting out from the chest plate of Dialga's statue broke off as they struck the ground at an opposing angle. Arceus' stone body fell a short distance away. Lester smirked. Venusaur could move again now.

"Shedinja, use Toxic on Glaceon, Venusaur, use Sludge Bomb on Glaceon as well. Hee Hee Hee."

"Dodge those attacks, Glaceon."

Glaceon leapt gracefully into the air, avoiding the globs of sludge from Venusaur. Venusaur's attack continued on, where it hit the waist of Palkia's statue. The onslaught of sludge globs soon dissolved their way through the statue's thin waist, separating the top of Palkia's statue from its legs. The top section of the statue fell backwards on its thin wings, breaking them off. However, Glaceon couldn't dodge the stream of poisonous liquid from Shedinja, and was struck, poisoning it instantly. The man was getting tired of the destruction to his property caused by Lester's Pokemon.

"Glaceon, use Hail NOW!" the man ordered, having a strategy all planned out. When it started to hail, the bad weather would strike Shedinja, instantly knocking it out. Then, he would have his Glaceon use Blizzard on Venusaur, as the moves power and accuracy would be boosted by Hail. Venusaur would be dealt a lot of damage from the super effective attack if it didn't faint. But before the plan could be executed, Lester decided to throw a wrench in it.


Before Hail could take effect, Shedinja dug itself underground, bypassing the negative effects of the weather. Hail began to fall, but Lester had another trick up his sleeve.

"Venusaur, change the weather with Sunny Day. Ha!"

Venusaur complied, and soon the hail disappeared, with an intensely bright sun replacing it. It was at this time that Shedinja decided to shoot up from the ground beneath Glaceon, sending it flying.

"Venusaur, use SolarBeam."

"Glaceon, use Ice Beam quick!"

Glaceon quickly recovered from the shock of being hit by Shedinja's Dig attack. Shaking off the pain caused by the poison, it sent a blue beam at Venusaur's SolarBeam, instantly charged due to the intense sunlight. The more powerful SolarBeam overwhelmed Glaceon's Ice Beam, and sent the hapless Pokemon flying into the torso of Giratina's headless statue, causing cracks to develop along the indentation made by Shedinja. Glaceon screamed in pain as its back scraped along the stone surface, hitting the ground with a thud. Lester knew he had to seal the deal now.

"Venusaur, use Earthquake. HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!"

The ground shook again, and the cracks along Giratina's stone torso spread around its circumference. The column of stone broke off from the legs, and fell on top of Glaceon, knocking it out. The man gasped in surprised as a henchman snuck up behind him and delivered a karate chop to the back of his neck, knocking him out. The henchman dragged the unconscious man towards the rest of his family, who by now had been chloroformed. Lester slapped his oval jewel back on his right chest, where it turned blue. Recalling his Pokemon, he turned to the henchmen.

"Go into the mansion and see if that Alakazam is unconscious or not. Since it didn't come outside, I'm guessing that Venusaur knocked it out. Bring it here." Lester turned to the Glaceon and froze it with his wrist cannon while three henchmen went to look for the Alakazam. A henchman spoke up.

"What about the statue parts?" Lester shrugged.

"Bring them if you want, but remember what I said." the henchman smirked.

"I still think you'll be short 12,000 Poke-dollars."

"And I still think you'll be short 12,000 Poke-dollars AND have some vehicles to service."

The henchman called his comrades and they sent out their Golem. The Pokemon proceeded to use Hyper Beam on the broken up statues, breaking them into smaller pieces. Lester remembered that the statues were carved from limestone and came up with a way to get his revenge on the Elites who were still on his tail. The three henchmen he sent into the mansion returned with the unconscious Alakazam, which Lester proceeded to freeze into stone. He turned to the henchmen.

"We have instructions to destroy the scene, so have fun."

"Yes sir!"

The henchmen's Golem proceeded to use Hyper Beam on the mansion, quickly reducing it to a large pile of rubble. Lester turned to the henchmen.

"Before we leave, load our captures on the mini airship and bring whatever else you want." Lester watched as the stone Alakazam and Glaceon were placed in capsules and carried off. The henchmen also carried the stone Dialga's chest plate with the diamond, the stone Palkia's shoulder plates containing the pearls, the sections of the stone Giratina with the yellow platinum parts (the head, torso, and limb spikes), and the midsection of the stone Arceus with the golden wheel still attached.

While the henchmen were busy with their task, Lester examined the rubble that once constituted the mansion. He picked up a piece of the interior wall.

"Hmmm…Gypsum. This will most certainly come in handy." Lester picked up many pieces of the wall and hid them in his clothes.

Moving off to rejoin the henchmen, Lester saw that three Houndoom were standing near the rubble. They were ordered to use Flamethrower, incinerating everything that was salvageable.

3 hours later, airship's training room.


J was yelling at her henchmen when she saw the statue parts, now all piled up in the training room. Lester was smirking, realizing that he won the bet he made with the henchmen. The henchmen on the other hand, were baffled as to why J was furious. Lester walked over to the statue Dialga's chest plate with a crow bar, and brought it down on the stone. The chest plate cracked down the middle, and the diamond, sized like a ping pong ball fell out. Picking up the diamond, Lester tossed it to J, who explained angrily that rich families like to make distinctive engravings on jewels they intended to keep in perpetuity. Such engravings are hard to see with the naked eye, but could be seen when magnified. This was done so that the jewel could be identified if it was stolen. Attempting to scratch off the engravings would only damage the jewel and decrease its value. Indeed, when the diamond was magnified, engravings could be seen all over its face, proclaiming the jewel as the property of the Beresford family. The same engravings were also found on the pearls from Palkia's statue. Though the engravings were also on the platinum pieces obtained from Giratina's statue, J decided not to melt them down as the platinum content in the metal was too low. She did however; pry the emeralds off the golden wheel from Arceus' statue. J decided to melt down the wheel since it was composed of pure gold. J also made the henchmen service the vans for a week because they brought back what she termed as "garbage". Lester smirked.

"Looks like I win our little bet."

The henchmen scowled as they each handed over 1,000 Poke-dollars. However, Lester couldn't quite celebrate. J turned to him.

"Clean this stone clutter up. You can keep the useless jewels if you want." Lester's jewel turned red.


"Because you solicited money from the henchmen over your bet, and did not tell them why they shouldn't bring back all this garbage." J walked out the training room, with some of the henchmen carrying the wheel from Arceus' statue. As the doors closed, Lester let out a scream that made others in the nearby area decide against going into the training room.


After his rage died down, Lester's jewel became yellow as he remembered what he could do with the limestone against the other Elites. He sent out his Togekiss, and had her use Aura Sphere on the limestone pieces, breaking them into smaller chucks. Spotting two empty Pokemon food buckets, he piled the limestone chucks into one, and loaded the gypsum wall fragments he snuck away from the mansion into the other. After he disposed of the excess limestone, grabbing the diamond, pearls, platinum pieces, and emeralds, Lester headed off with the buckets in hand. Before returning to his room, he grabbed several jars of honey and a bottle of food coloring from the break room and an empty detergent bottle from the laundry room.

Lester met his Ninjask outside his room. The little sneaky Pokemon had managed to make his way around the airship without being noticed by anyone. Smirking, Lester's crazy personality asked his Pokemon if he had what he was sent to obtain. Ninjask nodded, and pointed out a number combination sequence on Lester's keypad. Lester now had the room combinations of all the other Elites. Just in case, he decided to change his own room combination. He also made plans to sneak two more buckets with him on his next mission.

A week later, Valley of Steel, Hoenn Region.

Several Skarmory flew overhead and fired off Air Cutter attacks, attempting to interfere with Lester and his Blastoise. Lester's calm personality looked up and shrugged as the pesky metal birds were dispatched by Flamethrowers from the henchmen's Houndoom. Lester turned his attention back to the matter at hand, the giant Steelix that he was supposed to capture. The Steelix tried to hit Blastoise with Iron Tail, but Lester simply told his Pokemon to step out of the way. The Steelix was the valley's ruler, which explained the annoying flocks of interfering steel type Pokemon the henchmen fended off. Steelix used Dig and went underground.

Before Lester could give a command to his Pokemon, Blastoise was struck by several bolts of electricity, causing him to wince in pain. Turning around, Lester saw a swarm of Magnemite and Magneton firing electric type attacks at his Pokemon. The henchmen that were supposed to take care of the nuisance had their hands full, as the steel type Pokemon kept evading the attacks from the Houndoom. Lester sighed. If you want something done right, you have to do it yourself. He sent out his Charizard and ordered him to use Heat Wave. Being a thin, spread out attack, Heat Wave hit the annoying Pokemon, causing several of them to drop to the ground, unconscious.

Lester turned his eyes back to the battle just in time to see Steelix surface under Blastoise. While the ground type attack didn't do much damage to Blastoise, it was enough to knock him back a few feet. Charizard flew around, on the lookout for any more of the giant Steelix's minions. Steelix used Iron tail again, which Blastoise dodged. The Pokemon's tail struck a nearby rock face, exposing some brown rock. Lester's eyes widened. His research was right. There was bauxite in the area. Chucks of it fell out the gouge made by Steelix's tail. The annoyed giant Pokemon charged and fired a Flash Cannon from its mouth. In response, Blastoise got down on his belly, causing the attack to hit another rock face instead. Gray rocks fell from the spot where the attack hit, which Lester identified as iron ore. No surprise, considering how many steel type Pokemon lived in this valley.

Steelix was panting heavily, exhausted from firing off so many attacks, most of which failed to hit Blastoise, who mostly dodged and managed to strike with attacks of his own. Lester flicked a hand gesture at Charizard, who nodded. The Pokemon flew off to the mini airship nearby to fetch the buckets Lester brought. The henchmen were too busy observing the battle to notice. Steelix used Flash Cannon again, but Blastoise dodged it. The attack hit the rock face, exposing more iron ore. Lester decided to end this quickly.

"Blastoise, use Water Pulse." Lester's Pokemon formed a blue sphere between his hands and hurled it at Steelix. The super effective attack struck Steelix, and exploded in a torrent of water, drenching Steelix. The giant Pokemon suddenly looked dazed, and began moving erratically, there was a small chance, but Water Pulse could confuse the opponent. Lester ordered another attack.

"Blastoise, use Hydro Cannon."

Two orbs of water shot from Blastoise's cannons hit the Steelix, knocking it backward into the bauxite rock wall, dislodging more of that stone. The giant Steelix crashed to the ground, its eyes swirly. The henchmen rushed to bring the fainted Steelix back to the mini airship. Lester watched as his Charizard returned, carrying the two buckets he had asked for. After tending to his Blastoise, Lester recalled both his Pokemon.

While the henchmen were still busy handling the capture, Lester shoved all the sand he could into one bucket, filling it. He then grabbed lots of scattered iron ore and bauxite rocks from the ground, piling them into the other bucket. Following the henchmen, Lester secretly stashed the buckets under his seat on the mini airship, formulating a way to sneak them to the training room later.

2 hours later, airship's training room.

Lester brought in four buckets, containing the materials he obtained on his previous two missions. Emptying the iron ore and the bauxite on the floor, he had his Togekiss use Aura Sphere to break them up into little pieces. Taking away some of the bauxite, Lester poured sand and most of the limestone on top. Walking over to the other side of the room, he recalled Togekiss and sent out Charizard. Ordering a Flamethrower attack on the assembled pile of materials, Charizard complied while Lester slipped on a mask and gloves to protect himself from heat and fumes. When Charizard was finished, he was quickly recalled, and Lester left the room to grab a mortar and pestle from the break room, leaving the training room to air out.

When he returned, Lester saw that Charizard's attack had melted everything together into many marble sized pieces. Lester sent out all his Pokemon, who were baffled as to what he was up to. Grabbing some of the pieces and pounding them into power with his pestle, he decided to explain.

"You see, what I have here is rudimentary, improvised cement. Cement is formed from four distinct ingredients, and they are calcium, silicon, iron, and aluminum. The limestone statue pieces, when heated at high temperatures, become calcium oxide, basically calcium with some extra oxygen. Heating sand burns off any impurities and converts it to its purest form, silicon. Together, both calcium and silicon make up roughly 90% of cement. Now, the rest is composed of iron and aluminum, which can be obtained by heating iron ore and bauxite respectively. When all these substances are heated together at a very high temperature, namely Charizard's Flamethrower attack, hot enough to melt rock, you get these marble like pellets called clinker. By grinding these down into powder, like I'm doing now, you have cement." Lester's Pokemon looked very fascinated and impressed by what their trainer was doing. As Lester ground the clinker down with his mortar and pestle, he grabbed some of the gypsum and added it to the powder, grinding it down as well. Lester continued his explanation.

"I'm adding gypsum from the mansion's walls to the mix because it prevents this stuff from flash setting, or hardening on immediate contact with water. As you can see, I left out some of the bauxite and limestone over there. By exposing them to the same heating process as before, I get calcium aluminate. This chemical compound speeds up the setting of cement when mixed in with it. While I don't want this stuff to flash set, I don't want it to take all day to harden, if you get what I mean." Lester's Pokemon seemed extremely interested, however, they wanted to know what he was going to do with the cement. Lester continued, as he poured the powder into a bucket and ground more clinker down.

"As you all know, some of the Elites want my head, due to what happened 2 weeks ago when that new member joined us. A week ago, I'm sure you are all aware that I had Ninjask spy on the other Elites as they entered their rooms, so he could take down their combinations. Well, now I have the room combinations of all the other Elites. I have already singled out the three Elites who wanted to target me the hardest. On one of the following nights, while everyone else is sleeping, I will sneak into their rooms and pour the cement down their toilets. By the time they wake up, the cement will have set. They'll be in for a big surprise the next time they use those toilets. After the cement hardens, the only way to fix the clogged toilet problem is to outright replace the toilet itself. I also have another prank planned which I will carry out on that night as well." Lester calmly explained. His Pokemon snickered. The targeted Elites won't know what hit them. Soon afterwards, Lester had Charizard melt the remaining limestone and bauxite into calcium aluminate, which he added to the cement. He divided up the quick setting cement into three equal portions, and smiled when he found that he had enough to clog three toilets.

That night, Lester's room.

On occasion, several questions plagued Lester's mind, mainly to do with the other Elites, preventing him from sleeping. Tonight was one of those nights. How many of them were genuinely committed to the faction's goals? How many of them were forcefully brought into this business like him? How many of them put up cold fronts in a bid to impress him, Ash, and the other Elites? How many of them simply wish to be free from J? How many of them would still be committed to the faction if Ash somehow escaped? How many of them were truly loyal to J?

Lester got up from bed. He was evidently not getting any sleep tonight. Reaching for his bookshelf, he took out a book and read the cover. "The Variations of Dissociative Identity Disorder" by Nathan Bannon. Lester smiled, remembering the psychologist who had given him his jewel and the Shiny Stone used to evolve Togetic into Togekiss. A year ago, the book was published, and Dr. Bannon had sent Lester a copy. It went on to become a bestseller, and put Dr. Bannon among the world's leading psychologists. His business boomed because of it. Though he wasn't named directly in the book, Lester knew that all of Dr. Bannon's observations referred to him. The psychologist had written a greeting to Lester on the title page, wishing him well and hoping that his condition could be cured. Lester smiled again at the kind words, and began reading.

After getting through a chapter of the book, Lester decided to perform the pranks tonight. Putting away the book, he got dressed, and picked up three buckets of cement, along with a bottle of detergent now filled to the brim with honey. Lester had added food coloring to make it still resemble detergent. His jewel changing from blue to yellow, he strolled out his room.

Sneaking along the corridors quietly, Lester reached his first target's room. Being careful not to make any noise, he entered the combination on the keypad, and tiptoed inside, leaving the other buckets outside. He quickly made his way past the sleeping Elite into the bathroom. Removing the bucket's lid, he poured the quick setting cement powder into the toilet. Sneaking out again, Lester then repeated the process with the other two Elites on his hit list.

Now it was time for his other prank. Lester knew that two Elites would be setting off on a mission to Eterna Forest in the Sinnoh Region in 3 days, and tomorrow morning was laundry day for the Elites. What his comrades didn't know was that Lester had already washed his clothes the previous day. Sneaking into the laundry room, Lester took away all the detergent bottles and replaced them with his bottle full of colored honey. Lester was unsure which Elites were going on the mission, so the clothes of all the other Elites would wind up getting saturated in honey. Lester snickered as he imagined two angry Elites getting chased by forest Pokemon attracted to the honey on their clothes, screaming his name in anger. Since he was staying up all night, Lester would probably wind up sleeping in the next morning, and miss laundry day. He hoped that his absence wouldn't be noticed.

After depositing the detergent bottles he stole from the laundry room in his room, Lester still wasn't tired. His jewel was blue again, and he decided to treat his Pokemon to a midnight snack. At the break room, he grabbed six food dishes and some Pokemon food, along with a bottle of soda for himself, and headed off to the training room.

Lester shut the training room's door behind him and let out all his Pokemon. They were confused as to why they were sent out at this hour, so Lester decided to explain.

"Yeah, I couldn't sleep, so I figured that I would treat you guys to a midnight snack. Interested?" Lester's Pokemon sounded off in approval, and he placed a dish in front of each Pokemon, filling them to the brim with food. As his Pokemon ate, Lester took off his jacket and tossed it to one side. He popped off the cap from the soda bottle, taking a large gulp of the drink. Staring at his Pokemon happily eating, he let his mind wander.

Lester's eyes focused themselves on Togekiss, the last Pokemon he obtained. It seemed that she was the most protective of him, due to her kind and gentle nature. Well all his Pokemon were protective of him, but that was beside the point. He remembered the day he discovered her as an egg at Mr. Shellby's breeding house, the day so many unborn Pokemon were so mercilessly killed. The memories began flooding back of eggs exploding from the heat of a Houndoom's Flamethrower, the Pokemon fetuses twitching on the floor. Lester took another gulp of soda. The Shellby couple eventually rebuilt their destroyed breeding house, but nothing could bring back those Pokemon. The way Lester had met Togekiss reminded him so much of the way he was kidnapped from the orphanage 11 years ago. Memories of the orphanage's doors flying through the air, colliding with some of the orphans, and killing them instantly flooded Lester's mind. Like those dead unborn Pokemon, the world would never know of the potential those kids could have held. The Xanadu orphanage later became the Xanadu botanical nursery, a place Ash visited when he was younger, or so Lester was told. Since the two incidents, Lester had developed a soft spot for children and baby Pokemon. He finished his soda.

Lester's mind went straight back to the destruction at the breeding house. The egg shell pieces on the floor reminded him so much of shards…shards of…


Lester looked at the bottle in his hand. It looked so similar to beer bottles, in particular the ones he used for his Molotov cocktails when he was 14 and tried to escape. Because of that, he received a tattoo. As he examined the bottle in his left hand, his shirt sleeve glided up his arm slightly, exposing the bottom parts of the word "Invictus". Lester used his right hand to completely roll up his sleeve, bringing his tattoo in full view. A stylized raven above the word "Invictus" in sharp yellow letters. The bottom part of that tattoo represented Lester's "fall from grace" as Jane's apprentice. The top part branded him as the first of the Chosen Elites, J's "cream of the crop". Both times, Lester been reassigned against his will. He gritted his teeth as J's face came to mind. His left hand tightened around the glass bottle as his angry personality took over.

Lester's Pokemon looked up from their food when they heard a loud crash. Looking behind, they saw shards of glass from a broken soda bottle. Worried, they turned to their Trainer. Lester was clutching his left shoulder with the tattoo tightly with his right hand. Teeth gritted, Lester let out some animalistic growls as he got on his knees. Still clutching his tattoo, Lester curled his left hand into a fist, and began punching the floor over and over again, ignoring the pain pulsing through his knuckles. Lester's Pokemon called out to him, but he acted as if he didn't hear them. Togekiss flew forward and wrapped her wings around Lester in a tight embrace, forcing him to stop. Panting heavily, he closed his eyes as his calm personality reemerged. Tears began streaming out Lester's eyes as he wrapped his arm around his Togekiss, crying into her soft body. Togekiss and Lester's other Pokemon all began to weep as well. They all surrounded their Trainer in a tight group hug, many tears falling to the floor.

For a good 10 minutes, they stayed in that position, all comforting Lester. He looked up and saw his Pokemon were all there to support him, none of them holding any blame on him for their current situation, just like it was 11 years ago. The last of his tears shed, Lester realized that his Pokemon were all he had to live for, and they were the ones that kept him going as he lived on the airship. He smiled up at his Pokemon.

"I'm sorry for acting up like that, and I assure all of you that I'm fine now." Lester bared his tattoo. "This mark represents all the control J has over us. Well, one day I promise all of you that we'll be free from all this. I will remove this mark the instant we are liberated, and I will find Dr. Bannon to treat my disorder. I sincerely believe that he may very well cure it. We don't have to survive anymore when that day comes, we can live! And you are all free to go wherever you desire, after all you were all forcefully brought into this because of Jane."

Lester's Pokemon widened their eyes. Was he planning on releasing them when he escaped from J? They shook their heads vigorously and huddled closer to their Trainer. They would stay with him for the rest of their lives. Lester let fresh tears fall again, touched by the feelings his Pokemon had toward him.

"You really mean it? You'll stay with me? Th-Thank y-you all, f-from the bottom of my h-heart. I'm thinking we can participate in the gym challenge when we are free. What do you say?" Lester's Pokemon all cheered as they lifted him on Venusaur's back. Tears dried, he looked down as his Pokemon finished the rest of their food. Ninjask and Shedinja flew up next to Lester while Charizard, Blastoise, and Togekiss gathered in front of Venusaur.

In whispers, Lester told his Pokemon that the cement prank was successful. He also told them about the honey prank he executed. Lester's Pokemon grinned in approval at his prank ideas. Since he committed the pranks in the middle of the night, he could just say that he was sleeping the whole time. No one knew that he had secretly made cement in the training room, and none of the other Elites suspected that Lester had obtained their room combinations. If they were changed, Lester could simply send Ninjask to obtain them again. Lester hoped that no one got suspicious about him sleeping in the next morning.

Lester got off Venusaur's back and smiled at his Pokemon. They smiled back, and he knew that he wanted no other team by his side than them. They would stick together for life, and nothing could change that. He walked over to the broken bottle, and his Pokemon helped him to clean the mess. Lester hoped that his team would never break or separate that way. The shards of glass represented a divided group, just like the Elites before they were brought together. Ash, the kind hearted boy Lester first met 3 years ago, had become what held all those shards together, just like Lester with his own Pokemon. They actually did have a lot in common, if one thought about it.

Giving his Pokemon one last hug, Lester recalled them and donned his jacket again, leaving the training room with the empty food dishes. He looked back at the room he first woke up inside on the airship 11 year ago. He had spent a lot of his time in there, training and bonding with his Pokemon. The doors of the training room closed as Lester went off to return the food dishes to the break room. Heading back to his room, Lester snuggled back into his bed, and closed his eyes. A new day was dawning, and a new hope for freedom had been established.

Author's Notes: That was one tough last chapter to write, probably because I was trying to find a suitable ending. As you can see, it chronicles Lester's tenure as an Elite. The first Elite status he has is juxtaposed against behavior that is not expected and not appreciated from him, as a way to make one wonder why J chose him. The only reason for that is probably because she doesn't want to waste the training her mother put him through by leaving him as a henchman. The confrontational office scene Lester has with J was actually quite fun to write, particularly since he keeps changing personalities. It appears that I have made him seem like a big chemist and mad prankster here, but it is to exhibit how far he will go to get pay back on someone for insulting him because of his mental condition. The cement prank is inspired from an act of vandalism performed on McDonald's toilets with cement by activists who protested the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver, Canada. McDonald's was a sponsor of the Games, which was a reason for the vandalism. As Lester explained, that act required the complete replacement of the clogged toilets. In theory, one could actually make cement the same way Lestert did, provided that they gethered the needed materials and found an intense enough source of heat. Though mentioned, the other Elites are unnamed since they belong to other members of the site. As to who Lester actually pranked, that is up to Johan07 to decide, should mentions of the pranks be made in J's Apprentice. Of course, the honey prank was performed in an indiscriminate manner, since Lester had no idea who his intended target was, he just knows that the targets are among the people who would fall victim to the prank. Lester's comment on dihydrogen monoxide is a reference to a popular hoax poking fun at perceived lack of awareness toward formal chemical names. The hoax involved pretending that water was a highly dangerous substance and then listing some of its negative effects. The hoax's effectiveness also comes from the connection people make between dihydrogen monoxide and carbon monoxide, which is definitely a highly poisonous gas. If anyone is wondering, caustic soda, also known as sodium hydroxide, is a highly corrosive chemical used in heavy duty industrial cleaning to dissolve unwanted waste. It is also used to get rid of roadkill and has been used on occasion by murderers to get rid of the bodies of their victims. The Valley of Steel Lester goes to capture the giant Steelix appeares in the episode "All Torkoal, No Play", and it is the episode that Ash captures his Torkoal. The chapter also shows Lester's view on Ash, and he makes the observation that they are quite similar. It is indeed a good way to bond with someone. I included the scene at the end with Lester's Pokemon as a way for him to recap the events over the past 11 years. He went out of control briefly when he thought about how he was held captive by J, the tattoo being a definite indicator of that, which is why he wants it gone. The orphanage Lester was kidnapped from later became a botanical nursery, the same one that appears in the episode "Make Room for Gloom". Lester's thoughts about releasing his Pokemon under the belief that they will be happier is a reference to how Ash almost releases Pikachu in "Pikachu's Goodbye". His Pokemon's desire to stay with him is also a reference to Pikachu wanting to stay with Ash at the end of the same episode. Overall, I think it was a nice way to wrap up the story. I would like to thank Johan07 for patiently beta-reading and supporting this story throughtout all its chapters. This chapter is dedicated to Legendary Fairy for taking the time to review and support every chapter. Reviews and constructive criticism are welcome. Flames will be deleted.