Took a while because I did hardcore editing. And I'm still not really satisfied. :/ But I promised quick updates, and quick updates you shall get!

Formatted this differently than the first. I'm also going into more detail with the events since this will be more like a book than anything. *sigh*

I know there were things I wanted to say that I left out in the first chapter, buuttt…

Oh!

Please give some suggestions on pace and all that jazz. That'd be really nice.

Power Play

Act 1, Scene II

The Power.

"All the world's a stage,
And all the men and women merely players;
They have their exits and their entrances,
And one man in his time plays many parts,
His acts being seven ages."

-As You Like It, Act II, Scene VII

Leaf constantly moves, fighting and burning. The first Gym Leader to stand before her, Brock, falls and it surprises her as much as it does him. "Lucky thing you chose a grass-type starter," he says of her bulbasaur, who does not take kindly to having his skill questioned. But he gives her a shiny little badge to show for her efforts, and she puts it in an equally shiny little case.

Only stopping to rest her Pokemon, never herself, she heads east to Mt. Moon and there encounters strange characters with big letter 'R's on their chests talking about how they want to market fossils they found in the cave. She avoids them as she battles other wary trainers. But as she tries to leave the cave, a scientist accuses her of trying to steal one of his fossils and forces her into battle.

He relents to her Pokemon, and gives her the fossil.

So it begins that she sees these people everywhere, the mysterious Team Rocket that has broken into a Cerulean family's home, bookcases overturned and furniture broken to pieces. When she goes looking for him (because she is the kind of person to find trouble when trouble finds others), he stands only yards away, his eyes shifting nervously and a TM in his hands. He had destroyed a home searching for a mediocre Pokemon move, and she is taken aback by the wanton destruction greed and pettiness has wrought.

She also marks it in the back of her mind, to remind her that she had set out to discover everything in life (the difference between good and evil, the struggle), and all the ugliness that comes with it.

She battles him for the TM and he flees. The family is happy to have the move back, but they really only want something that is left intact, something to make it all seem better. She helps them clean up while thinking of the ridiculousness of the entire event.

And on a golden bridge a member asks her to join Team Rocket. Even with her limited knowledge of the crime syndicate, she says no, and he battles her as if by obligation. She thinks maybe these criminals are not much to be feared with how easily she takes down the Grunt. After all, these are simple crimes, carried out by mooks with zubats and rattatas.

In her mind, they are just the backdrop of her play, one that she tells herself is half comedy, half drama, all around coming-of-age story. The strange Bill man is a character (in his own life, the main protagonist), and the ticket he gives her for the party aboard the S.S. Anne harbored in Vermillion is a plot device.

Thusly, she defeats the Gym Leader in Vermillion, a zealous army veteran, and buys her first dress, hoping to find trainers in the looming ship. The vessel is bedecked with lights, beautiful in its size. She steps aboard, her new ivysaur at her side, and is subsequently accosted by trainers wishing to battle.

Her entire being focused on battling, Leaf almost misses the party. So she travels to a large room, one she wouldn't imagine on a ship, with a dance floor and red tablecloths and a chandelier watching it all from the high ceiling. Others are similarly dressed as her, and she feels out of her element.

Before she could think of what to do, a hand is offered to her. "Would you like to dance?"

Leaf takes it, because she hears the music played by a quartet, and what else is there to do? He is a gentleman in a tailored suit, black eyes to match his hair. He knows how to look at women, how to hold himself high without a hint of pretentiousness, and he frightens her. The man catches the eyes of other guests; they take quick glances, and look away for fear of being caught. He makes her stop and think for a moment.

"What is your name?" he asks, his voice kind in formality. He already knows of her, a girl with confidence that shines through in her eyes, her naturally quizzical features like she wants the world to tell her a joke or two. She has been blowing through Gyms like a hurricane wind; he hears there is no stopping her.

"Leaf," she replies, and hopes her voice is as smooth as the material of her dress.

He does not reveal his own name, and that is fine with her. She doubts she will see him again. The man leads her in silence, which is just as well—she never likes to talk, unless it leads to battle or knowledge or some other philosophic dynamic. His body feels warm, and it's the closest she's been to anyone. When the song ends, he leaves with a kiss on her hand. But the princely gesture is not the same when it is by a dark man who feels like evil, and it seems more like a parody.

After the minor diversion, she starts on her way again, because she has no time for handsome men without names. She prefers caves like the Rock Tunnel, the dirt and the tough-bodied Pokemon. She stumbles upon the small town of Lavender, a place of requiems and lost souls, something she does not want to worry about when she has fully focused her mind on the struggle of life. But there is no escaping death, for this is a town of melancholy, a town which cannot escape the fog, a crown around its buildings.

With the weight of this fact on her mind, she discovers her rival in the Tower, and he is less one Pokemon.

"Why are you here if your Pokemon aren't dead?" he asks, and she doesn't miss the bitterness in his voice.

She wants to turn the question back at him, but knows already. After battling him, she ascends the stairs, but is quickly assaulted by ghosts, different from the gastlies and haunters she has seen before. It begins to connect when she visits Mr. Fuji's house, learns of the hostage situation which was resulted from a botched mission in which they planned to steal cubone skulls, but it only ended in a marowak's death and an

"The world has fallen into the quiet clutches of Team Rocket," a boy at Mr. Fuji's house tells her. He holds the orphaned cubone in his arms, and her Pokedex tells her that it wears the skull of its deceased mother. "They will kill anything and anyone that comes between them and their power over the world."

Her stomach hurts thinking about it all. She had thought them harmless, petty thieves, and this event has proved her wrong. This is not what she wants in her adventure, but she realizes that it is a necessity—it is life, and with life comes good and bad, and concerns to weigh on her shoulders.

"You'll need the Silph Scope if you want to get to the top of the Pokemon Tower," the boy goes on when she tells him about the ghosts she had seen. His eyes are sad, like everyone else's in this town. "It has been stolen by Team Rocket, though. It'll be no easy feat to get it back."

And those eyes ask her—beg her—to do something about it, even though she's just a passing trainer, a little girl in a skirt and tube socks and too many rose-colored delusions.

Lead decides to look first in Celadon City, marks her map with a red 'x' and smiles at her steadily growing ivysaur. She finds she loves the city lights; they suit her much better than Pallet Town's dimly lit streets.

She goes to the Game Corner after losing to Erika, just because she wants to find comfort in the cliché of drowning her sorrows in slots. But then she sees a Rocket in front of a poster, and though she knows better, she is still intrigued. There is a time to learn, and a time to be reckless, she defends her actions.

The Grunt scurries away when she approaches, and Leaf discovers what he was inspecting. She pushes the button, and a staircase opens up, down into black. No one notices—too absorbed in the flashing lights and temptation of gambling—so she enters, the only sound the tap tap tap of her feet against concrete steps.

Grunts below accuse her of ruining their plans, ruining Giovanni's reign, but she is just a curious girl who likes to battle. But then she remembers the mother marowak and the little cubone whose cries resound in its skull helmet like an elegy. Her attacks become more ferocious, and ivysaur senses the change in demeanor and follows accordingly.

Deeper still she goes. The dark pit beckons and repels her all at once—it's too easy to fall into the trap of naïveté and curiosity. And when she is as far as she can go, enters a small room, the gentleman who had danced with her aboard the S.S. Anne sits cross-legged on his throne of lies and death.

"I must say, I counted on your arrival," he speaks nonchalantly, like she is an old friend checking up on him. His eyes are steady on hers, and the sickness in her gut mixes with some other feeling.

"Why do you do this?" she asks, her voice quiet and pressing. If nothing else, she wants to know why the marowak had to die because she thinks of her own mother, back home staying close to the phone.

He inclines his head, looks at her softly. "Do what, Leaf?"

"Kill people and Pokemon, destroy homes. Why are you doing it all?"

"Team Rocket captures Pokémon from all over the world—they are important tools for keeping our criminal enterprise going." They both know that is not even half of the story, but she lets him continue. "I am the leader, Giovanni."

Next to him, a Persian watches her curiously, and a smile seems to cross its features. She wants to accuse him of lying for not telling her he was the leader of a criminal syndicate wreaking havoc on Kanto, a monster called Giovanni. But she never asked.

"I know about you," he says, sits back like its idle talk. He seems to want to avoid battling her, but her fingers itch at her sides. "You are taking down Gym Leaders and Trainers, you are battling your way to the top. You are just like me."

Her voice is dangerous in its quietness. "I don't hurt people."

"You do not hurt people, hmm?" His smirk is secretive. "What about those trainers you battle, whose hopes you crush?" He raises an eyebrow; he's bent on dissecting her. "Or the Gym leaders who have risen to the top, only to have you rip them down from their pedestal. You want power, I can see that." He repeats those damnable words. "Just like me."

They ease into battle like a warm tub of predictability. The heroine versus the villain, they fit into their archetypes unblinkingly. And she tries not to think of the fact that in his life, he is the protagonist and she is his antagonist. She is his conflict.

Giovanni uses ground-types, ferocious looking things standing tall and ominous, and they seem like shadows breathing death. Giovanni leaves her huffing, because she puts every part of herself into the battle. She defeats him by a fluke of her ivysaur's speedy razor leaf and he merely hands her the Silph Scope, as if he knows everything about her. "I hope to see you again." As if he wants her to tear him apart.

Leaf hurries back to Lavender Town and in the Pokemon Tower, before the final flight of steps, she finds the marowak's ghost, a soul mourning its child. She has no choice but to defeat it, and thinks, there is more to life than fighting, and just moving through the notions. There is more than the power, Giovanni.

The Rockets are lined up on the final floor, like salt in the wound, and they learn how bad of an idea it is to stand up to her ire. She rescues Mr. Fuji, who must have spent his time verbally abusing the grunts judging by how fiercely he glared at them. In her mind, she applies a label to him, and it reads hero.

I do not usually like Shakespeare, but the quote at the top is one of my favorites from him. It is another piece that fits this story perfectly (I'm simply separating the chapters into acts and scenes for aesthetics).

As a side note, I'm glad that in Best Wishes, Giovanni ditched his orange suit. His new one is much better. :D Even though I don't watch the anime…

What else…oh! To add to what I said at the top, tell me if you would like more dialogue or if this seems too rushed. This was initially supposed to be a one-shot, after all.

How about this…anyone want to beta? :D