So, here is the new chapter! I'm sorry if any of it doesn't flow the way it should, stylistically or plot-wise. It's hard to pick up a story again after so long, but I promise I'm doing my best. Thank you guys so much for your support, and I hope you enjoy the long-overdue update!

Ed: God, this lady. Three years it's been! I feel so neglected. (flops dramatically onto a couch)

Me: Get over yourself, chibi. I've been busy having a life.

Roy: Noooo! Get ridddddd of itttt! (spews fire everywhere)

Riza: (looking stern) No life for you. Writing only.

Me: Thank god I'm unemployed right now. Just you wait 'till the semester starts...

Award goes out to my significant other for not outright laughing when I explained the concept of a FMA/Pokemon crossover. Good for him. He shall go far.

Chapter Fourteen

The next morning, as they all blearily rubbed their eyes and rose to greet the new day, Ash seemed particularly troubled to Ed. The poor teen's sleeping patterns seemed to be rapidly deteriorating as time went on, rather than improving, but the last few nights seemed to be reaching for a new sort of rock bottom. Ed had to admit, he was grudgingly impressed that Ash was still on his feet and moving. He could respect that brand of bull-headed stubbornness, even if right now it was hurting Ash far more than it was helping. Misty and Brock were wearing tight-lipped, pinched expressions on their faces, watching Ash with eyes filled with concern. Hesitant to do anything that would further harm Ash's delicate mental state, they seemed to be leaving well enough alone for the moment, letting Ash exhaustedly trudge along as if nothing were the matter. Ed snorted to himself. Sometimes, it was best to just let idiots be idiots.

Finding that Max's small shoulder made for a much easier time than walking along the dirt path of the road, Ed hadn't hesitated to clamber aboard, hitching a ride for most of the day. When you got past some of the annoying brat factor Max wasn't a bad conversationalist, and he had access to a wealth of knowledge that left Ed thinking wistfully of his younger days. Free from a darker goal, Max was able to use his passion and intellect for the far more worthy cause of being the best Pokemon breeder that he could be. In a hushed and awkward voice, Max had admitted to him one day while walking that after he had gained enough renown as a breeder, he hoped to rise to the rank of Pokemon professor, studying Pokemon behavior the way that crazy old guy Oak did. Max was a little under-confident, saying he wasn't sure he had what it took. Ed had whapped him firmly on the top of the head and told him that all he needed to succeed in life was the drive to carry out his dreams. Max had smarts aplenty. Ed had no doubt that someday that kid was going to go on to do great things.

The days had passed in somewhat peaceful silence between Ash and his two oldest friends. Brock was relaxed but careful about it, making the occasional comment in Ash's direction so as to make sure he was not feeling left out, but for the most part being content to simply leave the teen to his thoughts. However, the interactions between Ash and Misty were not nearly so simple. Even in silence there was a tension in the air between them, setting Ed's teeth on edge as he watched them pointedly at anything but each other as they trekked on. When they set up camp they would bicker occasionally, small skirmishes that had the feel of testing new, uncharted waters by using familiar ground as their anchor. Ed couldn't begin to untangle all of the feelings happening there, complicated backgrounds and recent trauma mixing violently with teenage hormones. Not wanting to touch that one with a ten foot pole behind a blast shield, Ed opted to let the two sort it out between themselves. He was content to play mediator and observer as Ash's problems took a background to his hunt for signs of Alphonse.

As the group had traveled onwards, vibrant woodlands had given way to more grassy fields, the occasional tree or white picket fence breaking up the endless waves of flowing green. The sky was blue, little wispy clouds drifting about the cheerfully shining sun. Bird-Pokemon sang from the trees and the breeze swept gently by their clothes, causing the fabric to ripple and flutter. It looked so ideal, so perfect, like this was a world where nothing could ever go wrong.

Ed didn't trust it one bit.

It set his teeth on edge. He wasn't sure if it was just a sad statement of his inability to accept and tolerate peace or his acute senses warning him that something was amiss. However, the cynic in him screamed that this was all too good to be true. There must be some trap here, waiting amongst the calm ripples of tall grass and cheerful farmhouses flanked by dozing Pokemon. An area as open as this place left him feeling exposed, vulnerable. There would be nowhere to hide if they were suddenly ambushed. He found himself constantly scanning the horizon, looking for the silhouetted approach of enemy troops against the backdrop of the noon-day sun. He could tell that the Colonel and Riza felt the same way. Roy was constantly sniffing the air, sharp blue gaze keeping a careful lookout from his spot in Brock's knapsack. In Misty's arms, Riza's body language was deceptively calm. But, if you looked at her closely she had the same eyes as Roy, cool and alert for any sign of danger. If he could see himself, Ed would bet money that he would look the same way.

The war had went and ruined him, Ed realized with some sadness. The last of his innocence, stripped bare and tarnished by splashes of blood and gore. Being on the front lines of a battlefield had forged himself into something harder, something more raw and dangerous than he had once been. Thank god he had refused to let Al anywhere near the fighting, forcing him to stay back in Central so he could continue researching leads for the stone. Al had argued and begged, reasoned and cajoled, but in the end it had done him no good. Roy had simply swept in and put his foot down, saying that as a civilian there was simply no place on the battlefield for him. He couldn't pass any sort of State inspection in order to enlist; to do so would expose their secret. Roy then finished darkly that if he could not trust Al to stay and the boy somehow found his way to the battlefield, he would see to it himself that Alphonse was clapped in irons for the rest of the conflict. Seeing his brother's torn but determined expression, Al had reluctantly given in and agreed. Ed had never been more grateful to Mustang in his life than on that day.

Listening with one ear to Max's chatter, Ed's gaze kept being drawn magnetically back to Ash. The teen's dark gaze was lingering on him, watching him from the corner of his eye. After so many years as a dog of the military, an unseen gaze on him caused the back of his neck to prickle and his senses to instinctively go on high alert. Unusually, the expression on Ash's face when he looked at Ed was not one of distant grief or annoyance. No, he looked for some reason both thoughtful and haunted, as if he were trying to puzzle out some problem that could only be solved with Edward in his sight. It confused Ed, but in the sake of keeping the carefully crafted peace Ed decided to leave it be until he could find a more opportune time to bring it up.

"Hey Brock!" said Max cheerfully next to Ed, and the once-blonde turned his full attention back to the boy, feeling guilty for letting his attention wander. If he had noticed any lack of attention on Ed's part Max gave no indication of it as he looked at Brock with wide, excited eyes. Brock looked back over his shoulder, hands looped through the straps of his backpack in order to better stabilize it.

"What is it Max?" he asked, favoring the boy with a smile. From his position, Ed could barely see the tip of Roy's snout as he fell further into the backpack. At the movement of Brock's torso the canine had lost his footing, tumbling to the bottom with a yip and a torrent of curses. Brock winced. "Sorry Roy," he said sheepishly, rubbing the back of his head. "Unlike Misty, I'm not used to carrying around a Pokemon in my backpack. Usually it's just pots and pans and the like. I'll try to be more careful and warn you next time."

"You do that," came a cross grumble from the backpack's depths, and Roy's disgruntled features struggled once more above the rim of the pack.

"Now now sir. Beggars can't be choosers," said Riza smugly from her stable resting place in Misty's arms. "Complaining will get you nowhere." There was no rebuttal to this but quieter grumbles and a small whiff of steam from Roy's coal-black nose.

"So Brock, where are we headed now?" asked Max as if none of the commotion had happened in the first place. Ed snorted out a quick laugh at the Colonel's expense before a warning look from Riza caused him to pale and firmly shut his trap.

"Up the coast," said Brock as the group kept walking down the wide, well-trodden dirt road. Off in the distance a windmill could be seen, lazily rotating in the gentle afternoon breeze. "There's someone I thought we should have a chat with. He's a Pokemon expert of sorts, and might be able to give us insight into Ed and the other's… unique situation."

"But what about-?" started Ed anxiously, but anticipating his question Misty cut him off.

"Don't worry Ed. We haven't forgotten about finding your brother," she said with a gentle smile and a look of understanding. Her blue eyes were soft. So much like… Ed shook that thought off, trying to keep his mind in the present. "Bill's well-connected, and he keeps his ear out for strange things that happen around Pokemon. If anyone would know about unusual events happening, it would be him." Misty nodded decisively, turning back to focus on the road ahead. From back and to the left where Ash had been slogging along behind them, Ed saw the teen perk up the tiniest bit.

"We're visiting Bill?" he asked slowly, and Brock frowned in his direction.

"Didn't you recognize the path we were taking?" he asked, concern creeping into his voice. "We've all been here before, not that long ago I might add."

Ash hunched his shoulders defensively, his brow furrowing in annoyance. "Of course I did!" snapped Ash, but Ed could tell by the look in his eyes that he was lying. "I just didn't know for sure if we were visiting Bill, okay? Get off my case Brock." The spaces under the teen's eyes were no longer a pale lavender, but a solid purple that was too near black for comfort. It had most likely been weeks since Ash had gotten proper sleep and it was clearly pushing him towards a breaking point. Brock, ever sensitive to the feelings of those around him (except when it came to creatures of the female persuasion) took a step back and just nodded, clearly not wanting to push Ash any more than he had to.

It was at this moment that Ash, walking adjacent to the group the way he was, happened to cross a previously untrodden patch of ground. There was a low rumbling sound from down below his feet, and Ash froze with a comic look of shock on his face. Ed felt a wave of horror rush through him. It's a land mine, he thought desperately. It's a mine, it's a trap, oh god oh damn we're all about to go sky high next to this peaceful fucking farmland. Then, the dirt crumbled away beneath the teen's slim body, sending him quickly below their sight level and into the crumbling soil. "Ash!" cried Misty, eyes wide as she turned on her heel and raced backwards, Brock and Max not far behind. Ed hung on for dear life as Max shook and jostled him in his haste to get to his friend.

Gathering around the edge of the hole, they peered as one over the lip to see Ash, dust-covered and spitting mad about ten feet into the ground. The dry dirt caked onto his skin and clothes, turning the whole of him a charming sort of pale brown. He had a few minor abrasions that Ed could see. The most notable was one on his arm that was gently beading blood from the scraped skin, but other than that Ash seemed to be unharmed. Ed felt relief drop on him like a pile of bricks. He relaxed against Max's bent head, almost dizzy with the feeling. We're all fine, he thought, reassured by the sight of Ash's cursing grimy form. No one is dead. This time.

"What the fuck is this?" Ash ranted, twisting and turning in an attempt to rise to his feet. You could almost see the veins on his forehead bulge outwards and his eyes turn red. Extreme sleep deprivation did not make for a very even keel in aggravating situations. "Where did that god damn-!" He cut off, his head tilting back as he closed his eyes in understanding. "Oh, fuck me. I know who did this." As one, Brock, Misty, and Max's eyes widened in simultaneous realization.

"Who?" asked Mustang in an aggrieved yelp. He was tense, as tense as Ed and Riza were, everything on high alert as he scanned the area for potential threats. As such, he was the one to see a previously normal-looking patch of ground rise up like some sort of turf-covered trap door, opening to another hole in the ground. There was a billow of acrid smoke, and everyone coughed and wheezed as three shapes rose into view.

"AHAHAHAHAHA!" a trio of voices laughed in unison, and when the smoke was cleared by the breeze traveling across the open field there were three new people on the road. Well, two humans and one Pokemon. They were dressed in white, seemingly in uniforms which were emblazoned on the front with a large red capital R. One was an attractive woman with the longest deep red hair that Ed had ever seen. It reminded him of the color of his old coat, before the world had gone and changed on him. The other was a thin-faced effeminate man, his mid-length locks a simply starting shade of lavender. The third seemed to be some sort of feline standing on its hind paws. All three of them smirked wildly at the onlookers, looking smug and ever-so pleased with themselves.

Roy, Riza, and Ed immediately went on the highest alert, their eyes never leaving the intruders for a second. They all struggled free of their various restraints and onto the ground. Despite their lack of height, it would be better for them to be able to move freely in a fight. And it was looking like it was a fight the trio was after, given their aggressive stances and the pitfall trap they had cleverly integrated into the road. A lot of work had gone into this set-up, Ed noted. This level of motivation usually meant highly trained operatives, which didn't bode well for them. But, it didn't matter. Ed was military, and the people behind him were nothing more than mere children in his eyes. It was his job to protect them, to be the shield held between them and the evils of the world. Standing in the middle of the road before the three assailants, he saw from the corner of his eye Roy and Riza flanking him. Riza's fur was bristled, and Roy was growling low in his chest. They had his back. They always did.

However, behind them the air had taken on a completely different mood. Misty groaned, her head landing solidly into the palm of her hand. Max rolled his eyes, throwing his hands up in the air and crying in exasperation, "Oh geez, not again! Don't these guys ever give up?" Brock stood, an impassively silent wall of sheer annoyance. These were the last people he wanted interacting with Ash right now, and he'd be damned if they managed to get anywhere near him.

Ed was pretty sure he had taken the situation seriously up until the man pulled a rose out of nowhere and clenched it between his teeth. Ed felt all of the readiness drain out of him at the sheer ridiculousness of the move. He simply stood there, stupefied, as the two humans stood back to back in a jaunty, stage-worthy pose. At his side, Roy's jaw had dropped near to the road and Riza's eyebrows were slowly creeping higher and higher as the two weirdoes puffed out their chests, took a deep breath, and began to shout.

"Prepare for trouble!" shouted the woman.

"And make it double," said the man in a low, husky tone that was probably meant to be seductive.

Ed had no words. None. Nothing could possibly describe in any degree of accuracy just how ridiculous the whole scenario was.

"Is this really happening right now?" asked Roy out of the corner of his mouth as the duo continued on, oblivious to their lack of a properly appreciative audience. "Please tell me you're seeing this too Fullmetal, Riza. This is NOT the way I want to go off the deep end."

"I don't think even my subconscious could come up with something like this," admitted Hawkeye, warily scooting closer to the two males. "Be on your guard, sir. These are extremely deranged people, and should be treated with the utmost caution."

"You got that right," muttered Ed, the three of them pulling into a tight, protective knot. "Weird world beyond the Gate? I got it. Lack of alchemy? I can deal. New, yellow-ass body? Whatever. But this?!" Ed shuddered in horror, noting that rose petals now seemed to be streaming down from the air for no discernible reason he could identify. "This is where I draw the line. I CANNOT handle this."

Behind the disturbed Amestrian trio, the Pokemon trainers were conferring in a loose knot, utterly unconcerned by the antics of those on the road.

"I can't believe them," fumed Misty as Brock reached down a hand, pulling Ash out of the hole with a grunt of exertion. "It's been ages since we've last seen Team Rocket. Where the hell did they even come from?"

"Beats me," said Max as Ash clambered out of the pit, rising unsteadily o his feet and doing his best to brush the dust off of his filthy clothes. It billowed off of him like a cloud, floating down and settling on the ground like a layer of fine ash. Max pushed up his glasses, looking at the reciting trio in the road before him and saying condescendingly, "Well, it's good to know they haven't thought up a better motto in their time away."

"How long has it been since you've seen them last?" Brock asked a disheveled Ash, jerking his thumb behind him to indicate Team Rocket.

"About a year," groaned Ash, twisting his back to try and stretch out the ache from tumbling into the hole. "I thought I had lost them for good." Turning to face the spectacle in the road, almost done by the sound of their increased volume, Ash scowled deeply as a haunted look crossing his features. He turned abruptly away, hands in his pockets with his shoulders tensed defensively. "I can't handle this," he admitted under his breath, just loud enough for Brock and Misty to hear. "Can we just- just beat them and keep going? I don't really feel like dealing with them today." The rare naked vulnerability in his voice, small like a child's, grabbed Brock and Misty' heartstrings and pulled them tight.

"Sure thing," said Brock gently, laying a hand on Ash's hard shoulder and squeezing reassuringly. At his side, Misty looked as if she were about to reach out, then seemed to think better of it."I'm sure we can wipe the floor with them no problem. You just stay back and watch, alright?"

"Alright," said Ash, shooting a small, grateful smile at the both of them. Misty's face suddenly flushed pink, and she quickly turned back to the road trio. Brock, noting this from his peripheral vision, simply smiled and turned to join her, standing firmly at the three Pokemon's backs. Misty cracked her knuckles, a scary smile that bared more of her teeth than was comforting spreading across her face.

"This is going to be fun," she said darkly, and Brock huffed a laugh.

"Now Misty," he said jokingly as Team Rocket's speech came to a close ("MEOWTH, THAT'S RIGHT!"), the three of them posing ridiculously together as the three Pokemon blatantly gaped at them. "Let's not get too violent." Misty said nothing, just smiled wider, body preparing for the fight ahead.

"You know these creeps?" asked Ed incredulously from the ground, head tilted back to look at the two trainers behind him.

"Whaugh!" screeched the purple-haired man, jumping back so that he was closer to the redhead. "Jessie, the twerp's Pikachu! It talked!"

"I heard it James," said Jessie impatiently, giving them nothing but a contemptuous flick of her hair. "You idiot, Meowth talks all the time. Pull yourself together."

"Oh, right," said James, fist thudding into his palm in an 'aha!' expression before his customary smirk was back on his face. "Sorry Jessie."

"Eh, I dunno if I like the looks of this," said the Meowth, and Ed blinked in shock. "The twerp's Pokemon have never spoke human before." That Pokemon was speaking, not in Havares but in plain old human speech. But, Ed noticed upon further inspection, there was no overlay as if the Pokemon's words were being telepathically translated like theirs were. He wondered why this was for a moment before shaking the thought off and focusing on the scene in front of him.

"Who cares Meowth?" asked Jessie sharply, green eyes narrowing as she whapped the cat Pokemon solidly across the back of the head.

The Meowth yowled, rubbing the sore spot and staring at the ground sulkily. "Geez, I was just wonderin'," whined the Pokemon. "My cat senses are tingling, that's all. Something's not right here."

"All that matters is that we get that Pikachu!" countered Jessie, looking crossly at the two males who cowered before her ire. "Do you want to end up in that frozen paper wasteland for another year?"

The three of them shuddered in unison. "Desk duty," they groaned as one, a wash of unpleasant memories pushing to the front of their minds.

"Butch was so mean," James wailed, clinging to Jessie and sobbing into her uniform. "I don't ever want to go back there again!"

"And Cassidy was simply infuriating!" growled Jessie, eyes flashing red as her hand clenched into a fist. "I need to show her who's the real boss of who if it's the last thing I ever do!" Turning abruptly, she pointed an imperious finger at Ed, who merely blinked at the suddenness of the gesture. She said arrogantly, "Alright twerp's Pikachu, you know the drill. Get over here and come with us or we'll come and take you by force."

"What the fuck are they talking about?" yelled Ed, bristling at Jessie's fiery stare. "Like hell I'm going with her!"

"Don't worry Ed," said Misty calmly, gesturing to Riza and Roy as they took ready stances in front of her. Her gaze was steel, cold and hard as she viewed Team Rocket with nothing but icy disdain. "Roy and Riza have been practicing with me. We're going to wipe the floor with these jerks. You wait by Brock in case they try and go for Ash or Max." To Roy and Riza she said, "Remember what I told you. I have more experience with this, so let me take point and follow my lead, okay?"

"Got it," the two Pokemon said in unison, nodding their assent as they faced down their enemy.

"Great," she said with a smile that turned ugly as she lifted her gaze to face her opponents. Raising her voice and leveling Team Rocket with a fierce glare, she shouted to them, "If it's a fight you want, then it's a fight you'll get." Her cerulean eye blazed hot, and something in the way she stood spoke to a level of skill and confidence Ed hadn't seen in her before.

"We've got this Fullmetal," growled Roy, his front paws braced firmly in the ground in front of him.

At his side, Riza glanced over at Ed, gaze calm and level as she said, "This is our fight. Stay back and cover the rear while we're busy."

It was her Lieutenant's tone, and Ed immediately jumped to the ready, his arm going to an aborted motion of a salute as he said, "Yes, ma'am!" Stepping back, he stood at Brock's feet as the two prepared to watch the fight.

"Bring it on, twerp!" shouted Jessie, and she and James pulled out their Pokeballs, sending them arching gracefully into the air as beams of red light sprang from their depths.

The red light coalesced, blooming outward until it took the shapes of two Pokemon, releasing them into the world with a shower of rose-colored sparks. One looked like a big snake to Ed, as wide around as a man's torso and nearly three times the length. The body was a dark eggplant purple marked with yellow zig-zags, and its red eyes narrowed in delight at the sight of the two smaller Pokemon before it. The other was much smaller, a green shape that danced on two legs whilst swinging its arms about wildly. It was a…cactus. It was a living, ball-shaped cactus. A small golden crown bloomed on the top of its head, and its black mouth grinned wildly at the scene before it. Ed, too numb to this insanity to be much bothered by its oddities anymore, simply took this all in stride.

The cactus-thing immediately gave a cry of joy and leapt into James's arm, much to the pain and dismay of its trainer. He squealed, frantically trying to dislodge the Pokemon with cries of "Get it off, help me Jessie, please Cacnea that hurts!" Jessie sighed, averting her eyes from her partner as he managed to pry the overzealous Cacnea off of his body and lob it back onto the battlefield. The Pokemon seemed unruffled by this, however, landing on its feet and cheerfully facing his new opponents. The snake arched its neck, crying 'Seviper!' and looming menacingly over the much smaller bodies of Roy and Riza. The two Amestrians stood firm though, seeming unphased by the larger Pokmeon's scare tactics as they faced their opponents with confidence. And with that, the Pokemon battle began.

"Go Seviper, Wrap attack!" cried Jessie, and the snake sprang forward at once, curving around the two soldiers in the hopes of catching them both in its clutches. The pair was too wise for such a simple ruse, however, and both neatly dodged over and to the side, landing with all four paws on the ground.

"Roy, use Roar," said Misty commandingly, and Ed watched as Roy's chest seemed to expand like a set of bellows. Then, the small Pokemon unleashed a fearsome wave of sound that caused Ed to flinch and both of Team Rocket's Pokemon to step back, cowed. "Now Riza, use Swift!" Misty called out, and Riza darted in from the side, spraying the heat-seeking stars from her gaping maw and strafing the helpless opponents while their guard was down.

"Cacnea, use Pin Missile!" called James in desperation, and the small cactus obeyed, its arms and mouth glowing as it sprayed the air around it with a cloud of spikes.

"Fall back out of range!" Misty directed with a sweep of her arm and the two soldiers obeyed, leapfrogging back so that one always had their eye on the enemy. Roy grunted as he took a hit aimed at Riza's vulnerable back, but otherwise they escaped unscathed. He seemed to shake it off with relative ease, standing at Riza's side as they waited for their next orders.

Watching the small redhead command the two fighters with confidence and authority, Ed began to finally get a sense of what it meant to be a Pokemon trainer. Each battle was unique, and each Trainer was the tactician who commanded their troops in battle. It was their job to see the big picture, to direct the flow of fighting outside of the Pokemon's own instincts. While good Pokemon could carry through an inexperienced trainer, a good trainer could also elevate inexperienced Pokemon with the right battle plan and good knowledge of strategy. As such, both Pokemon and trainer had to work in tandem, otherwise the whole structure fell apart and both were left vulnerable. Fully experienced with the ways of battle, Ed could see and appreciate how close a trainer and Pokemon could become. It was like when he fought with Al, or when Roy fought with Riza. They didn't even need to really see the other to know what they were about to do. They just knew, as if the two were connected, sharing the same skin and the same mind. If Ash and his Pikachu had been as close as he suspected they had, the loss of such a bond must have been… Ed shuddered at the thought. Unimaginable. Pain beyond words. He knew. He had felt it before.

"Seviper, Poison Tail!" called out Jessie.

"Cacnea, use Needle Arm!" cried James. Together, the two enemies advanced as one, rounding on the two smaller Pokemon as they prepared their offensive strike. From his vantage point, Ed saw Misty's face break into a smirk. This was just what she had been waiting for.

"Riza, use Protect," said Misty calmly, and the Eevee's small body began to glow in a shimmery haze of green. Both Pokemon dived at her as she stood still, unmoving in the face of their attacks. They hit one after the other like blows from mighty hammers. Riza slid back a few feet, braced limbs making furrows in the ground, but other than that was unharmed by the assault. Her red eyes blazed with determination, every hair bristling on her rigid body as the green glow faded away to nothing, leaving the two attackers defenseless in front of her. "Now Roy," said Misty firmly, and Ed watched in amazement as Roy came out from behind Riza's body where he had been shielded from the attack. He was right there in front of the two enemies, snarling in fury from their assault on his precious Lieutenant. The two Pokemon were still recovering from their attack, caught off balance and unable to move. Defenseless.

"Flamethrower," ordered Misty harshly, blue eyes like hard stones glittering in the light of the sun.

Roy seemed to swell, his body expanding as heat flickered in the air about him in a shimmering haze. Then, when it seemed like his small body could expand no more, Roy opened his mouth and a torrent of flame poured out, scorching the grass black by the side of the road and hitting the two Pokemon in front of him squarely at close range. They flew back and into their master, all four of them crumpling to the ground at Meowth's startled feet. Roy and Riza backed up towards the others, and Misty relaxed her tense stance.

The battle had been won in less than a minute's time.

The heavy thud of Team Rocket hitting the ground was suddenly replaced by a deeper, heavier sound. A low rumble vibrated through their feet, and everyone froze where they were. No one moved a muscle as they heard the grinding, crackling sound of earth shifting beneath their feet. James slowly raised his head from the tangled pile of human and Pokemon, looking at Meowth with hesitance. "Say Meowth," he said slowly, taking great pains to not shift his weight. "You don't think we dug too many tunnels down there while we were waiting for the twerps, do you?"

"Er," began Meowth, but before he could say more Jessie threw the slight man off of her, rising to her feet with a huff. At her movement, the rumbling groan became a shifting roar and spider web cracks began forming in the hard-baked earth of the road, stretching beneath all of their feet. Everyone had one moment to look at each other with a sinking feeling of horrified realization before the road gave way beneath them and they all tumbled together down into the darkness below.

Next update: due in five years! Haha, no not really. I will try my best to keep up with this project amongst my other works and the massive amount of edits I have to do on my book. (secret, I'm writing fanfiction again as a big procrastination scam) Please review and tell me what you guys think! Love makes me write faster haha, as has been proven on multiple occasions.