BR/N: My apologies for the delay. Being a Pharmacy student took up most of my time.

Hello everybody! Sorry for the almost two month absence, but as you can see, my beta has been busy. I've been busy too as I haven't really had any time to work on my fic either. Regardless, I hope I can compensate with this new update that I'm sure you'll all love.

Speaking of which, this story is reaching its two-year anniversary soon. This fic has certainly come a long way since it first started as a weak and troubled story, but I'm glad for the support that all the readers have given me.

Another reason for this long hiatus is that I have become a LOT more busy in terms of my final year in university. While I wasn't socially active in my previous years, I am practically all over the place and barely have any time to sit down and actually write my fic (that and I'm a beta reader for ARCEUS-master as of his latest update, so hooray for more business to attend to!). Once again, my apologies. Nobody said being a student in university was easy. Just ask my beta. XD

Once again, thank my beta reader, Tendou Souji, for improving this tenfold. I also don't own Pokémon because… ugh, just insert whatever witty reason you have here.

Chapter 26

Team Rocket Strikes Again!

"Friends and foes come and go both in life and on the battlefield, but true brothers and sisters, not limited to blood relatives, stick forever." - Kellyn, warrant officer-ranked Pokémon Ranger

"Don't underestimate dumb things in large numbers. This goes for a pack of Rattatas to herds of Rhyhorns charging at your position. Even with thousands of rounds and skilled men… you'll run dry and get overwhelmed eventually. Don't learn this lesson the hard way." - Anonymous Team Rocket officer

Throughout the rest of the night, the individual parties settled down by themselves in their own respective groups: Ash spent the night sleeping up in a tree with Sceptile while Leon, Krakatoa and Ash's Bayleef cuddled up under a tree outside the Poké Mart and slept peacefully throughout the night without any disturbances. Bianca and her friends returned to Brock's family mansion, while Raine used the whole night for the return trip to Pewter City after her little insurgency operation against the United Aerospace Armed Forces and their Team Rocket allies at Mt. Moon. Latios, being the Pokémon currently taking a temporary head role of the group, sent a telepathic message to each and every one of his allies that they were to meet outside Brock's house the following day. Fortunately for him, they all responded almost immediately, as each and every one of them had at least some sort of telepathic ability that allowed them to communicate over vast distances.

He was definitely a lot more pleased than he was last night ever since the casino fiasco, but in the end, he chose to forgive Ash for his blundering mistakes and Leon for his recklessness. It wasn't like he didn't make the same mistakes not so long ago, thinking he could take on Annie and Oakley despite being a Pokémon that knew almost no offensive moves aside from the energy-draining Giga Impact.

"At least this time, I'll be ready if we ever run into them again. Looks like I'm going to have to protect more than just my sister and my home city," he thought to himself in a heated manner. Just the vision of seeing those two witches made his blood boil to a level of a Magcargo's body heat even though he made a strong psychological note to not let such anger go to his head.

He wasn't exactly too angry at the moment one bit: the warm and adorable laughter of Bianca and Latias in the washroom, with both girls washing themselves up and helping each other with their daily morning routines such as getting dressed and combing their hair —feathers in Latios's case—brought a feeling of warmness to his heart. He, on the other hand, didn't really care too much about the state of his feathers. As long as they were clean—a short dip in a body of clean and clear water usually resolved the issue—he was satisfied.

By approximately ten in the morning, everyone was gathered in the front of Brock's house, with Raine returning from the air alongside her Dragonite and Blade, while Ash, Sceptile, Leon, Krakatoa and Bayleef waited for the group of Bianca, Latias, Latios, and Pikachu to come out as they prepared to depart from their temporary break.

"Sorry I'm late!" Bianca spoke hurriedly as she rushed out of the house, fixing her messy hair as she clipped the Poké Ball that contained her Pidgeotto on her purse's strap and secured the belt of her skirt impatiently. "It took me a little while to make sure I didn't leave anything behind."

"That's alright. We're not in a hurry to leave regardless," Leon answered, yawning slightly. To his side, Bayleef, Latias and Pikachu all happily reunited with Ash, the trio of Pokémon showing different methods of affection. "Now that's what I call a lucky kid. Enjoyed his company, Sceptile?"

"You bet. He reminds me of you, except you aren't as nice as him, given your aggressive combat nature in situations that really pull you into them," the Forest Pokémon replied in Pokéspeech.

Meanwhile, the three affectionate Pokémon that Ash owned all hugged and snuggled with the trainer: Pikachu perched on the human/Pokémon hybrid's left shoulder with a sunny smile, Latias rested her head on his right shoulder and nuzzled his neck comfortably and Bayleef happily rubbed her head against her master's right hand. This caused the trainer to chuckle heartily but at the same time feel extremely nervous—he was never used to so much attention before unless he returned to Pallet Town for his reunions with his Pokémon, which he was planning on doing so today. He was just relieved that Bayleef and Latias were no longer fighting—for now at least.

"Oh good grief. Please locate me away from these fangirls!" Blade gagged mentally from the back of the group.

"Brighten up, Blade! You have to get out of that armoured shell of yours more often," his trainer advised, hoping to shine a ray of happiness upon her usually gloomy and serious Pokémon.

The gold-shelled Scizor crossed his arms before he huffed exasperatedly. "I'm only here for battling, gaining experience and protection, not to be friends with everyone here. Regardless, I'll be patient so you can all take your time professing your love and all that crap to each other." Laughing under his breath, he flew up to a tree and observed the nearby scenery from his perch. "Just give me a call when you're ready to roll out."

"If you don't mind me interrupting this happy moment," Bianca interrupted, holding out Ash's belt, on which his Poké Balls were attached, towards him, "here are your Poké Balls. You left them inside the house last night, and I was going to have them delivered to you but I never got the chance."

"Oh, thanks. I can't believe they slipped my mind…" Ash thanked the girl in a dumbfounded tone as he took the belt and strapped it around the waist loops of his jeans, tightening the strap securely but not before Latias gave her trainer an affectionate hug.

The Pokémon Trainer laughed and blushed nervously in response to the Eon dragoness's gesture, and while Pikachu was tempted to seriously reduce him into a cherry red-coloured mess, he couldn't help but simply smile at the scene. In Ash's perspective, his state of mind was placed into a relaxing and near stress-free level as he felt Latias's heart gently pounding, the vibrations being felt from his heart too. "Alright Latias, I understand, but can you let up on the PDA just a bit?"

"Gladly!" she mentally replied in her own language. "As long as you allow me to become your next primary Pokémon for battling, then I'll allow that!"

"…I'll keep that in mind," Ash nervously trailed off as he gently rubbed Latias's forehead against his own. The Eon dragoness hummed happily as she did so, sniffing the trainer's fresh scent of minty-fresh shampoo that emanated from his hair.

In concurrence with the lovebirds' moment, Raine decided to explain the incident which occurred at Mt. Moon a few days ago to the one symbol of authority she could trust to hold a secret: Leon. She approached him with a smile across her face and harshly dragged him away from the crowd, with the black-haired teen yelping suddenly in surprise as he was tugged away forcefully.

"Hey, what gives!?" he spoke alarmingly.

Krakatoa snickered at him, obviously referencing the fact that the girls were attracted to him for some incomprehensible reason.

Pulling Leon to a location distant enough to be out of the hearing range of her other friends, she scanned the surroundings, making sure there were no other people or Pokémon to eavesdrop on their conversation. "Listen Corporal, I need you to help me keep a secret. Can you do that? This is vital and I think you're the only one capable of doing that."

Leon merely shrugged in response. "I guess. But what can possibly be so secretive that you need me exiled from the group just so you can explain it to me?"

The red-haired female Pokémon Trainer took a deep sigh, ready to break the events of what was possibly one of the few moments that changed her life entirely. "You'd better keep this a secret, because if the rest finds out, they might be thrown into a complete state of chaos and disarray. I don't want that happening, especially with Ash around. He's a bit sensitive, even for a sixteen-year-old. You're a Ranger, so I think you're the type of man that can withhold this information I'm about to present to you. Can you do that?"

His gaze lingered on Raine for a while before he finally nodded. "Let's hope whatever is coming out of her mouth won't prove to be too sensitive."

"Listen to me very carefully," Raine began her explanation as she retold the Mt. Moon mishaps in which she and her team were involved. "Last night, I was exploring Mt. Moon for a little Team Rocket hunting and training, but I'd say there's a lot more in those mountains than the regular commoner in everyday life would think there actually is." She too couldn't believe what she had just went through… but the genetically-engineered human had to grasp that fact as reality—it did happen, and it was about to manifest into an even worse nightmare in spite of her successful attempt of shutting down the mining operation.

"Continue," Leon requested. His Sceptile joined in on listening, but Raine attempted to shoo him away from the conversation.

"Hey, I'm a part of the Rangers too. No secret is withheld from me if my master receives the authorization to hear it," he validated in Pokéspeech.

"Fine, lizard breath," Raine joked, having limited knowledge of the Pokémon language. "But you'd better keep it a secret too, otherwise you owe me a Pokémon battle with the disadvantage on your side!"

"Promise," the Forest Pokémon assured Raine. "State what you have to blabber."

"As I was saying," the female trainer continued, "I stumbled across a joint Team Rocket/United Aerospace Armed Forces mining operation in the heart of Mt. Moon. They're harvesting this almost alien-like mineral they call 'sapphirium' and they're using it to manufacture weapons and other products such as—but not limited to—plasma weapons, armour plating, fuel, and the most frightening prospect, battleships. If my predictions and information gathered are correct, they may have dozens of these mines around the globe." She paused for a small intake of breath. "The entire operation was shut down by me and my team, but they didn't go down without a fight as they sent a killer forklift retrofitted into a weapons platform at us. I was going to call for backup, but my Pokétch couldn't transmit any signals or messages from deep inside the caverns of the mountain maze so I chose to take matters into my own hands. Sorry if I disappointed you all by not letting any of you have fun." She ended her explanation with a playful giggle.

"You… managed to take out one of their outposts by yourself?!" Leon's Sceptile voiced in a very low volume of noise, not wishing to draw any attention.

Raine crossed her arms across her chest with prideful look etched across her expression. "I'm a veteran trainer, what did you expect? You're not the only one with military training, boys. I am a genetic experiment that has plenty of expertise after all."

"Wait… what!?" the PRC serviceman yelped at Raine's last statement. His Sceptile widened his eyes as his glare never left the former Team Rocket operative. "You mean you're one of those mud-slurping bandits?"

"Calm down you two," Raine clarified with a voice of dullness. "I'm on your side. If I was with Team Rocket, I would have easily killed you in your sleep days ago." The thought never crossed her mind as she hated her creators more than anything she could boil up in her powerful mind.

Both Ranger personnel hyperventilated slightly before firmly allowing to process the fact that Raine meant no harm. Throughout the conversation, Leon listened carefully, taking every important word that Raine mentioned and carefully analyzed it with his enhanced mind. "It's not a surprise they would have such a monopoly in the mining industry, as they too have huge stocks in various sectors. I received this juicy piece of info from a captive UAAF soldier last night while you were away."

"Pardon?" Raine asked for clarification.

"Most of the products the Rangers and their affiliates use are equipment and hardware purchased by the United Aerospace Armed Forces and their affiliates. In fact, they designed most of the stuff you'd find in Poké Marts—potions, vitamins, elixirs, et cetera," Leon revealed, bitter and full of remorse that he had used equipment such as medical kits and weapons made by a company that clearly had no benevolent vision in their corporate missions. "But regarding what you've just divulged, we have to investigate some more if they are indeed procuring advanced weapons. Nothing good can come out of it, as they could use it themselves or sell it to their partners and other rogue organizations like Team Rocket or the now defunct Cipher." He pulled out his Styler and jotted down some notes. "Did you have anything else important you need to say to me?"

"Yeah," she confirmed. "I've also discovered enhanced Pokémon that feed and thrive off sapphirium. I don't know if it's another part of their corruption projects, but… yes, it appears Pokémon who consume sapphirium will grow plates of natural armour, repelling all forms of attack—even my Dragonite's Hyper Beam left nothing more than a small scratch. However, fire, or any form of heat, reacts violently to sapphirium so… I think you can guess what would happen if you put two and two together." She paused before she chuckled to herself slightly for acting like a know-it-all.

"Now that's something you don't hear every day," Sceptile spoke, critiquing Raine's discoveries. "Did they not do their homework of equipping their soldiers with what was arguably highly volatile body armour?"

"I don't know." The female trainer shrugged. "But it was sure effective until Fire-based moves proved to be their undoing."

Leon recorded the information using thought processing via neural systems, a marvel and gigantic scientific leap of Ranger technology, which made it no longer necessary to use a keyboard or stylus to quickly process vital information. Just speaking the thoughts mentally allowed the styler to capture any necessary data. "Good, thanks for informing me."

"Shouldn't you pass this forward to the Rangers?" Raine asked, thinking of receiving help from a bigger source.

Leon shook his head in discrepancy. "For personal reasons that I rather keep to myself, I prefer not to do so."

"What kind of secret? Care to share it with us?" a familiar voice asked from behind them.

Leon, Raine and Sceptile turned their heads around, only to be greeted by the glaring and intimidating-looking eyes of Jimmy and Latios. Unknown to the three, both Pokémon had been overhearing their conversation the entire time in complete secrecy.

"Guys!" The red-haired human pouted. "This was supposed to be a secret I only planned on sharing with a unit of the police!"

"Though this secret was yours to share," Latios admitted, "Leon's under my command. I have a right to hear this information too. Considering how Jimmy is a distinguished rebel of the UAAF and Team Rocket, he too should have a say in this matter. Let's not forget, he's also a gigantic intelligence database for us all, so he might know a bit too." To his side, the Typhlosion nodded bluntly and without saying anything, only responding with a slight smile on his face.

"So much for keeping it a secret," Raine thought hopelessly.

"No offence, but I think that you've regressed back to a drill sergeant," Leon deadpanned, a pulse building in the right temple of his forehead. "That was very encouraging advice."

"Just doing my job," the male Eon dragon responded laconically, cracking a sly smile. "Regardless, if what you say is correct, we may have to act. I don't know how, but we'd definitely need to do something. Team Rocket and their associates owe me a lot for the misery they put me and my hometown through."

Sceptile raised a hand before he quickly voiced out his opinion. "We can go nature crazy on them like Raine did!"

Krakatoa, though known for his love of head-on and violent approaches, had to disagree with the wise, PRC-trained Pokémon. "We're no army, and I doubt they would be caught off guard again. Raine had a stroke of luck infiltrating and neutralizing the sapphirium mine, but we'd need more luck than Jirachi can squeeze out of his pea-sized ass for another success. Trust me, the UAAF never repeat the same mistakes twice. I've experienced it first-hand. They will be prepared for the next skirmish, whenever that may be."

"Have any other plans then?" Leon questioned, keen to hear any options.

"I'm thinking, I'm thinking," the Typhlosion/human hybrid muttered, pressing his right paw against his head. "You can't draft up important solutions overnight."

"Hmm… Maybe we can get the aid we need from my kin," Latios suggested. "The legendaries. When you think about it, it's not too unrealistic since we have the trustee that's guaranteed to get us the help we need—Ash, right there." He pointed at the sixteen-year-old trainer with one claw.

"You can't be serious—calling in assistance from the gods?! How can we possibly achieve such a feat?" Raine gasped, somewhat shocked and amazed at the same time.

Latios nodded his head slightly as if he had no worries about the matter. "I'm a legendary if you somehow haven't registered that fact in your brains. My sister and I are supporting and cheering you all the way regardless of the troubles you all manage to get yourselves into." He paused for a moment before he resumed his proposal, which seemed outrageous to the humans and even Krakatoa himself. "Getting assistance from someone like Lord Rayquaza or Lady Dialga shouldn't be too difficult, but… to tell you the truth, I don't know if they are willing to help us since I'm not a part of their inner circle. Even so, it's worth a shot."

"Wait… Lady?" Leon pondered aloud. "Are you saying the deity of time is a girl!?"

Latios could only hold back his impending laughter at the incredulity in Leon's tone. "Yes, she is. Many refer to her as Great Lady Dialga as a sign of respect. Why do you ask? Surprised?"

"Never expected that…" Leon responded, bewildered and surprised to find out that Dialga was a female; up until that point, he had believed the Temporal Pokémon to be genderless as stated in official scientific records. "Mankind still has a lot to learn."

"The genders of most legendary Pokémon will surprise you, but I'll keep that as a secret until you all meet them personally, and I have a good feeling you all will," he pronounced, knowing that Arceus's followers would be dragged into this conflict sooner or later. On the other hand, the Eon Pokémon knew it was going to be a great learning experience for the humans. "I'd say this group of hyperactive trainers will definitely fit in well with Arceus's followers, especially with Ash guiding them."

At the same time, Ash and Bianca discussed their travelling plans as they waited for Brock to get ready to join them for the trip to Pallet Town. As the former Pewter Gym Leader had lots of housework and arrangements to take care of before his departure, the entire gang was forced to wait for him—not that anyone was in a hurry to leave or anything. In fact, everyone enjoyed conversing with each other in the rays of the bright morning sun that shone warmly over them.

"So I'll be able to get a chance to visit your hometown?" Bianca asked with an upbeat and sweet smile.

"Yeah!" Ash answered with a tone of eagerness. "It's a very nice and quiet town, I'm sure you'll really love it there."

"I'm looking forward to it…" she trailed off, looking at Latias who was resting her head on Ash's shoulder. "If you ask me, I think Latias is the more eager between us!" She accentuated her observation with a slight giggle. "If you don't mind answering, what is it like… being a hybrid and all?"

"Uh, well…" Ash stuttered, unsure on how to respond to Bianca's innocent question. "It's a stunning experience, but also very dangerous. You can harm others if you aren't careful."

His Pikachu proceeded to giggle, holding his tiny right arm over his small mouth as he tried to force down his fit of laughter. "Judging from your outright stupidity, I find it funny we're not all a pile of steaming cinders yet or the fact that the Ranger hasn't taken you into custody for being an unpredictable living bomb. Perhaps he isn't doing his job?"

"PIKACHU!" the trainer roared angrily, clearly insulted by his Pokémon's jokes about his intelligence. "Stop making me look like a fool here!"

"Aww, but you're so adorable when you're not acting smart!" Latias mentally complimented with a slight tint of blush creeping across her cheeks.

Ash's expression flattened upon hearing the remark. "Latias, you're not helping either."

"You're no fun, Ashy." She mentally pouted and pinched his cheek playfully.

Hearing Latias call him by that horrid nickname served to only make him even more depressed. "Don't call me that."

"Oh, come on Ash!" Bianca spoke cheerfully. "You know they're just messing with you. They don't actually mean it."

"At least someone supports me here," Ash muttered. Both his eyes narrowed down in misery, causing both Pikachu and Latias to giggle humorously at their trainer's reaction. He looked at his Pokémon, and he couldn't help but grin in a relaxed manner at the pair.

"Pikachu's been with me for well over six years now, and he's just as loyal ever since our adventures began. Latias is just always constantly begging for attention, but what can I do to help her?"

"Perhaps accept her gratitude towards you," Leon telepathically spoke to the trainer before he approached him. "Remember that little talk we had last night?" To the Ranger's side, Sceptile followed his partner closely with a mareepish grin. "You might not accept it yet, but you will sooner or later."

As the group socialized, Krakatoa and Latios observed Ash's denseness and "low intelligence," as the Volcano Pokémon had so eloquently put it, and tried not to burst into laughter.

"Seriously Latios, are you really sure about having your sister get together with such an idiot kid?!" he bantered, cackling raucously.

In comparison, the Eon dragon wasn't as rude or boisterous-sounding as the human-minded Pokémon and quickly answered the question. "Ash may have a lot to learn and a long way to go in terms of his life, but he's got potential. Maybe one day, you might even be bowing to him, as he has potential to be Arceus's disciple and potentially, even his successor as a god." Such things were not unheard of, at least to him: humans who were pure-hearted and had proven themselves to be acceptable as a deity were often granted the power to become demigods. "My sister and I are both examples. So I strongly advise you to not treat him so poorly."

"What?" the Typhlosion yelled out in shock as his jaw dropped. "You mean I can be sent to hell if I mock the so-called 'chosen one?'"

Latios shrugged as a sinister smile drifted across his face. "Maybe… I'll let you figure that out on your own."

"Ain't that newsflash," Krakatoa grunted before he was joined by Raine and Blade, who were both discussing future plans.

Sensing some privacy, Latios thought about informing his sister to be slightly less affectionate towards Ash, as he detected a strong case of embarrassment from the young Pokémon Trainer. "Hey sis, can I have a word with you?"

"Oh?" Latias replied mentally. "What is it brother?"

"Just come here for a second."

Latias smiled and winked at her trainer before she quickly wandered over to her brother—who had assumed the appearance of Lunick—to a good distance that was well out of the hearing range of the other humans and Pokémon of the crowd. "Do you have something to say?" As she was incapable of human speech, she chose to speak via psychic communication; she didn't want to sound awkward as a human that could only emit high-pitched cooing noises.

"You're really happy Ash is finally back and has accepted you on his Pokémon team, right?" He placed a hand on her shoulder and smiled.

She simply nodded but didn't return the same happy attitude that her brother projected towards her. "But why is he still so awkward around me? Sure, he has shown that he really appreciates my company, but still…"

"…I guess I didn't tell you that there is an age difference there, did I?" Latios sighed. "Unfortunately, Ash is still very young. You can't push him, you know that?"

Latias clenched her fists and tried to hold back a combination of angst and sadness. "Yes, but sometimes I just wish that he can stop being so dense and simply just say those words! He probably only changed just because he's a bit more mature now. He was only eleven-years-old when we met in Alto Mare!"

Her brother could only sigh heavily. After all, he couldn't understand why his younger sister, being well over 300-years-old, could possibly show affections for someone who was sixteen but in all regards, he had to explain, somehow. He was here to help her, not break his sweet and caring sibling's fragile heart. "Listen to me. If you aren't aware, he's also partly Pokémon now, but that doesn't mean you should jump to conclusions and try to force him into a relationship. I am positive he will accept it as time passes. For now, please keep relaxed. No one here will alienate you from the group just because you are so… different in terms of your conceptions on love," he continued, hoping to comfort his sister with his advice. "Please, try to listen to me, I'm only trying to help and support you."

"But you can actually become human, unlike me!" Latias pointed out as she crossed her arms, her gold-coloured eyes turning watery.

Latios blinked unexpectedly. "How on earth did you find out about that?"

"…Krakatoa told me during dinner time while you weren't looking. You didn't even bother to respond to my questions regarding the matter so I had to resort to asking him," she sadly responded. "While I can transform into a human… the flesh is fake. It's only a psychic illusion of what it looks like! I may be part human, but it's just not the same. It's as if our familial ties aren't even there since you are capable of so many things unlike me who still has to depend on mental communication to converse with her loved one."

Her brother gulped nervously. It wasn't his intention to acquire such an ability as it was probably an accidental side effect from the life transfusion process. "Please understand. I didn't want this power for starters but Leon had to transfer some blood to ensure I'd live, and vice versa. Above all else, I didn't really expect to be able to talk and act so human-like. Perhaps… no, that'd be life-threatening on Bianca's part." He immediately dismissed the notion of having Bianca undergo a life transfusion with Latias just so the latter can achieve her dream of becoming part human.

"You'll always be ahead of me. No matter what I do… I'll always live in your shadow," she mumbled, making Latios feel terribly bad and distressed as if he was putting down his sister with his powers and strength.

"Now don't put yourself down like that," Latios scolded forcefully. "Our skills and abilities do not determine our standings—everyone here cares for each other because we are friends. Even if we couldn't fight, as apparent when we first met Ash, it was still evident that he clearly enjoyed your company. Don't forget, he is a very busy and hardworking trainer so you have to know why he can't possibly divert all his attention towards you. That is your own decision to make from here if you choose to respect it or not, for I have no objections in your own life. You're a fully-fledged and grown Pokémon now." The Eon dragon dispelled any ill thoughts, wondering that his time of playing overprotective big brother was beginning to end.

Latias smiled, nodding as she appreciated her brother's talk with her. "I appreciate what you say, but…"

"What is it?" Latios voiced.

She fidgeted nervously, thinking if what she was about to say was going to get her shunned by everyone in the group. "You aren't mad or upset at me for loving Ash, right?"

Latios could only blink in blank fashion as he picked up his sister's question with his highly sensitive sense of hearing. "Are you poking my funny bone? No, of course not! I would never be, not in a thousand eons. Why the sudden worry?"

"I've learned that human and Pokémon relationships are frowned upon in society," she meekly divulged. "That was why I was upset. If I had your abilities to take on the form of a true human being, I wouldn't be. Everything of this body is only a mere illusion! This isn't human flesh, it's only my own made to resemble a human's!"

"What you say is true. Poképhilia is considered a very great moral crime in society, and I've seen the best trainers have their licenses revoked and sent to jail for it." He halted his words before he resumed, "However, I do not have anything against it. I would not object to anyone that you truly love, let it be Pokémon or human. As long as you don't go with someone I truly shun with every essence of misguided hate and malice, such as anyone aligned with that accursed Team Rocket organization, I'm greatly happy if you are able to form a relationship even if it means they are not our own species. However, you must take the concerns of your partner into thought too. Maybe they're not comfortable with them, which is clearly the case for Ash. Sure, he may be a bit more mature, but I'd say it was Krakatoa's doings that made him a bit more confident to accept you. I'm not terribly sure though. These are the times when I wish our mother was still around to answer these questions…" He stared blankly at the clouds drifting in the sky. "But that's the best advice I can offer you. I am sure Ash cares for you deeply but he may not be ready for a romantic relationship. In terms of being a human, I'm sure we can do something about that… but I'll have to delve deeper on what to do. Please give me time, okay?"

"Thanks for understanding." She looked up at Latios in his well-built human form, smiling cutely at her big brother's strong facial expression.

"No problem. Just remember that I'll always love you as my dear sister, no matter what path you take… although I might have a change of heart if you have feelings for a Team Rocket grunt or anyone that may potentially harm us legendaries." Latios paused, and wondered if he should have ever said that in the first place.

"Brother! You know I dislike them just as much as you do after those two heartless witches tried to hurt you and Ash!" Latias recoiled angrily. "I trust Ash for who he is. He will take care of me, and I'll return the favour towards him too."

"I'm kidding!" he chuckled. "I respect your decision, but please give him some time to adapt, okay?"

"Okay!" Latias answered happily.

"Hey guys, it's time to go!" Ash called over to the conversing Pokémon duo. "We're heading to Pallet Town now!"

Latios glanced over to Ash and everyone else. Everyone was waiting for them, with Brock joining the group too. They gestured the two to join them, and thinking he could discuss this later, Latios decided to put this subject behind him for the moment.

"Let's go, sis. Just remember, don't be smitten over Ash too much. Be a good girl, okay? I already have enough issues to take care of, such as watching over Leon and Jimmy. Those two kids… They're the reasons why I wish not to raise a family in the future."

"Right behind you brother!" Latias cheered cheerily. "I'll try, but no promises."

Latios merely rolled his eyes and went over to the group with his sister in tow.

The group was soon reunited as everyone departed for the city gate that was located at the south of Pewter City. With Ash and Latios, who was in his human form, leading the way—Latias and Pikachu tagged them, the Eon dragoness taking on her beautiful human form to prevent drawing attention to herself—Krakatoa walked alongside Bianca, with Leon at his side while his Sceptile followed him closely and kept his eyes out for any suspicious activity. Finally, Brock accompanied Raine and Blade as the two old friends of years' past discussed about recent life events with each other. Of course, Blade was rather disgusted that Ash's old friend could not keep his eyes off Latias, whose human disguise easily made him infatuated with the female Pokémon. The dragon girl had changed her human disguise once again, this time adopting something entirely different.

Her hair and skin still retained the reddish-brown and peach-tinted colour scheme respectively, but the style of her hair was now changed as it was stylized into two pigtails that ran down the sides of her head to her elbows. The Pokémon's eye colour remained unaltered, as they were still the golden-amber irises that were the most distinctive feature of hers, mainly because it made everyone think of her as cute. In terms of clothing, she wore a light-blue decorated short-sleeved shirt that hugged her body in a relatively tight manner, complemented with a pink ruffled skirt that rose approximately eight or nine inches above the length of her knee. For footwear, she adorned black leggings and a pair of trainer-style shoes that had a combination of pink, black and blue accents. The change was the result of recommendations from her friends in terms of adopting a look that would not draw excessive attention compared to her last one, while at the same time keeping a cute and charming human impression for her acquaintances, especially Ash.*

"Wow," Jimmy gasped, feeling both baffled and impressed with Latias's new disguise. "Is she trying to be the next trainer of the month with that new look?"

"I know!" Latias telepathed cheerfully. "Does it look good on me?"

Raine laughed at the hybrid's rather silly-sounding question. "She might as well be! Of course it does, Latias, although you do look a bit out of place."

"As long as my sis is actually wearing something, it is appropriate," her older brother stated, not wanting to go into the more explicit details of his younger sibling's 'wilder' side. He promptly turned his attention to Ash. "So is this the right way?" Latios asked, being a stranger in this new land. "This is not a good time to get lost."

"Uh, I think so… I'm not sure," Ash responded mildly. As he was completely horrible with directions, it was easy for him to get lost unless he was heading to places related with Pokemon battling.

Raine slapped her forehead in frustration before she said, "We really, really need to work on getting to know each other more."

"Maybe we should work on our communication skills a bit because this is not working out well," Leon's Sceptile recommended, directing his leaf-adorned hand in a manner that represented close-up facial communication.

"My sentiments exactly," Leon agreed with his partner. "Communication is vital in everyday life, ranging from casual conversation to high-risk mission briefings."

"What do you suggest we do to tackle that problem then?" Latios asked.

"We should get to know each other more if we have spare time," the Ranger uttered plainly, folding his hands behind his head. "In addition, it should be in privacy, in teams of two." To his side, Sceptile agreed with him by nodding his head.

"Guys, let's get going!" Krakatoa urged the group heatedly. "We can act like stereotypical philosophers after we get there!" Turning to Ash, he gestured for him to lead the way. Everyone fell silent the moment the Fire-type Pokémon demonstrated his impatience.

"Follow me then, guys!" Ash announced energetically.

Approaching the city limits, the group left the city by late afternoon; they were completely unaware of the three pairs of thieving and fiendish-looking eyes observing them from a fair distance away.

"Get that machine ready!" a voice with a distinctive accent hissed before the three sneaks slipped away without exposing themselves.

Just as the group of eleven individuals stepped out of the city limits of Pewter City and entered the outskirts of Viridian Forest, Ash's Pokétch rang: he immediately answered it.

"Who is it?" Bianca asked curiously as she poked her head over his shoulder.

"Oh dear Arceus…" Ash muttered as a face he could easily recognize appeared on the miniature screen of the communicator.

"Well well, Ashy-boy, long time no see!" a familiar voice spoke through the watch-sized communicator, the face of a spiky-brown haired youth around the same age as Ash appearing on the screen.

Ash could instantly recognize the face and voice anywhere—it was Gary Oak, his biggest rival during his adventures in Kanto and Johto who later decided to leave his career as a Pokémon trainer to pursue a dream of becoming a researcher like his grandfather. He also functioned as an undercover police officer, investigating crimes and suspicious activities ranging from petty thieves to gigantic crime organizations such as Cipher.

Ash couldn't help but greet his former rival with a warm smile. Sure, they were bitter in terms of competition but they covered each other's backs in scenarios and dangers whenever the time called for it. Their brutal and tight rivalries also taught them to both grow stronger with ambition instead of transforming them into sour and arch-enemies. His friends, however, reacted in a completely different manner, especially after hearing what Gary had just called Ash.

"…Ashy-boy?" Leon began to laugh as he heard the nickname via the speakers of the device. "What kind of laughable pet-name is that?! And I thought Leader-5 was crappy enough!"

"And I thought I was the only one who used it!" Krakatoa snorted, trying to prevent himself from choking as he laughed needlessly and uncontrollably.

"That's such a cute, not to mention hilarious, name!" Raine commented.

"Pfft… Ashy-boy!" Latios cackled, trying hard to not drop his disguise. "I should start calling him that!"

"Okay guys, it's not that funny… I've heard it a thousand times so I'm very surprised why you all find it so laughable." Brock hoped to side with his best friend and quell down any offensive jokes.

Even Latias and Pikachu, being dedicated friends to their trainer, couldn't help but giggle childishly at the remark.

"Stop calling me that!" Ash roared in response, blushing and feeling rather ticked off at the same time. This only elicited an even bigger wave of laughter from everyone else in the group, including Gary himself. It died down moments later but the human/Pokémon hybrid on the receiving end was greatly embarrassed by the sudden greeting and… rather interesting nickname. "So, what's up Gary? Here to laugh at me again?"

"Looks like I really hit you there, didn't I?" Professor Oak's grandson spoke via the link. Releasing a small chuckle in response, he greeted his former rival, "Anyways, what's up? I thought I'd check up on you considering you're coming for a visit, but it seems like you were a few days late. Don't worry, Gramps here isn't going anywhere but I was just curious. And nah, I wouldn't do that, maybe six years ago, but not now. We're cool now, right?"

"I guess so!" Ash said energetically. "Oh… well, I ran into some old friends, not to mention met a few new ones." Ash chuckled nervously as he scratched the back of his head nervously. "Here they are!"

Ash's friends all got into a clustered formation as if they were about to take a picture, and he directed the Poketch's screen at them.

Gary widened his eyes as he witnessed the group of ten, each of them waving in a friendly fashion at the newly enlisted Pokémon researcher and undercover police agent.

"Wow Ash, you can use some sharpening up in everyday skills, but you never fail to attract new companions throughout your journey," Gary commented before he introduced himself. "The name's Gary Oak, everyone. I'll be looking forward to meeting each and every one of you at my Gramp's lab once you arrive with Ash, so please drop by!"

Everyone nodded and smiled back. Most of them, especially Raine and Krakatoa, looked forward to meeting him due to his humorous and wisecracking nature.

"Gary's a notable former trainer and Pokémon researcher, not to mention a cop. He may be cocky, but he has the skills to back it up," Raine whispered to the others. "His team is brutal if you don't know good battle strategies!"

"Then I look forward for a scuffle with his team then," Krakatoa mused aloud with interest, always wishing to fight stronger opponents. "A fight with a strong opponent is something I always look forward to."

"I hope you know what you are getting into," Leon warned. "Gary is no slacker. He makes the majority of Ace Trainers look like beginners."

Meanwhile, Latios wondered if they were able to get vital information regarding Team Rocket and the UAAF from Gary; after all, he was part of an intelligence unit. The fact his grandfather was among the most respected and knowledgeable minds in the Pokémon scientific community greatly contributed to this. "Hey Leon, you think you can learn more about the Rockets and the unidentified UAAF troublemakers from Gary?"

Leon shrugged in response, brushing some dust off his short-sleeved, standard-issue Ranger jacket. "We probably can, but yeah, we should be a bit more polite, don't you think? Like, get to know him before we demand him to fork over sensitive info?"

"Well, I guess but we need to ensure we can trust Gary. He's a Pokémon Trainer, and you know what the majority of them do to legendaries like me." He worried for his and his sister's safety, and while it was clear that Ash and Gary were close friends, he remained sceptical when it came to trusting other trainers.

Completely engrossed in their discussion, both Ash and Gary conversed about recent events.

"Anyways Ash, I was wondering if you ever had any recent run-ins with Team Rocket such as that incident at Charicific Valley. I tried to get a hold of you a few days ago, but nothing got through. What's going on?"

Realizing that the call came in during the life transfusion process with Latias and Jimmy, the sixteen-year-old trainer decided to keep it a secret until the wiser minds like Latios gave him the green light to share that sensitive piece of information with an outside party. "Uh… my Pokétch was damaged so that's probably why."

"Are you alright?" Gary asked, detecting a hint of nervousness in Ash's voice. "You seem awfully nervous for someone so confident."

"Listen, I have to discuss with you once we are in privacy with the other two Pokémon Rangers you greeted earlier. Okay?" Ash requested, ignoring Gary's query.

"Okay then, I understand," Gary relented. "Take care of yourself kid. I'll be seein' ya. Don't hesitate to give me a call if you need a listening ear."

With that final piece of advice, the link severed and Ash regrouped his friends with a tired expression. He rolled his eyes and just wished his friends would no longer taunt him by that hated pet name. But what really worried him was the simple matter of explaining that two of his friends were not human at all—one of them was actually part Pokémon— and he himself was part Typhlosion. Even then, he was dreading the moment when he would have to divulge everything to his mother.

Meanwhile, on a Hill Overlooking the City…

"There they go. Directly on schedule as predicted by the intelligence experts," Lance observed. To his sides, three dragons of tremendous proportions—a Dragonite, a Salamence and a Garchomp—accompanied the Dragon Master as they too kept a view on Ash and his friends leaving Pewter City. Even from five miles away on a sharp slope located on the border that divided the regions of Kanto and Johto, he was able to clearly decipher that Ash's new companions were accompanying him via his extremely sharp eyes and senses.

"Remember—do not engage until they reach Pallet Town. We want the world to know of our might, and with Professor Oak witnessing your triumph, it will be our glorious hour," a voice rattled in his earpiece.

"I understand. They won't stand a chance with what I've cooked up for them," Lance responded coldly, locking his eyes on Ash and the two disguised Pokémon that followed him.

His reputation as a champion of Dragon-type Pokémon clearly reflected this. It was rare, if ever, for a human to ever possess such power in the form of three pseudo-legendary Dragon-type Pokémon. While it was common in the UAAF ranks that agents would be granted easy access to such levels of Pokémon, they were rather poorly trained or raised in the wrong manner and thus were not as skilled. Lance's dragons, though, were arguably the pinnacle in Champion-class Pokémon capable of fighting in all conditions.

"So master," the Salamence uttered eagerly, "are we going to make a quick meal out of them?"

"No," Lance answered, slapping his forehead in a dumbfounded manner. "We'll be teaching them a lesson—no vorarephilia involved. Legendary Pokémon do not belong in the hands of an unskilled human or anyone who is clearly unqualified."

"Do you ever think of anything else except for food?" the Dragonite commented. "You never seem to get enough of your fillings and always ask us for seconds."

The vicious-looking Dragon Pokémon shrugged with a boastful chuckle. "I'm a big Pokémon. I need a full-course meal to fuel my body for battling!"

"Figures." Garchomp rolled his eyes. "I'm amazed you haven't gotten so fat to the point where your wings can't support you in the sky."

Lance laughed a bit at his Pokémon's outrageous and humorous statements. Being a master trainer, he had learned the art of understanding their figures of speech just as proficient as Team Rocket's Meowth can understand and speak the human language. "Listen up. I want all three of you to be prepared once we face the kid down there. In fact, I have a secret weapon cooked up in the event you all fail…" He pulled out a black Poké Ball that had the UAAF insignia emblazoned on the top portion of the sphere.

All three of the draconic creatures raised an eyebrow in questioning. "What do you have there, master?" Dragonite asked, studying the device in his trainer's hands. For some reason, he sensed a great force of evil from within…

"Within this new version of Poké Ball, it contains another one of your kind. It was handed down to me from our employers after it was stolen from a trainer unworthy of commanding such a magnificent creature with limitless power," he declared, placing strong emphasis on the last few words of his statement. "I'll let that riddle your minds for now, for it is a secret I won't spoil. I would not need its assistance if the three of you can handle the task."

The Poké Ball did not contain just any old Dragonite—it actually held Leon's Dragonite which was stolen a week ago. "Once a friend of Ash's sees his former ally in my possession… he will have no choice but to beg the pitiful human to surrender the ones I want. Latias and Latios, along with the other powerful Pokémon that the group possesses, will be mine. If a normal human deserves to own a legendary Pokémon, I possess the right to take them away. Looks like Giovanni's merry gang of incompetent chess pieces can't do it so I'll seize the honours and accomplish what they all so pitifully failed at." If all went well, there was no way the Ranger would be able to even face down the corrupted Dragonite without being overcome with despair.

"Isn't that illegal?" Garchomp put out sceptically.

The human simply smiled slyly in response. "Yes. But I'll be protected by the United Aerospace Armed Forces as they will back me up regarding legality matters should I run into any. Latias and Latios will be mine, along with those spectacular hybrids that are rumoured to be escorting Ash recently. That will eliminate one of the pesky thorns that have been bothering my employers for so long."

Lance's Dragonite could only ponder. While he was unwaveringly loyal and obedient to the Dragon Master, he wasn't sure if he had been following the right ideals recently. The Dragon Master had practically fallen into an addiction for power, and the Dragon Pokémon did not wish to harm a legendary Pokémon because of it.

The same went for Salamence and Garchomp. The UAAF's detrimental experiments on their kin, in particular, made them uneasy with their trainer's contract with the megacorporation. Regardless of their feelings, they chose to obey their master to see what really awaited them ahead of the path where they were to cross swords with Ash and his companions once they reached Pallet Town…

"This is so sweet!" Jessie exclaimed as she rubbed both her gloved hands together greedily. "Not only will we be able to snag the twerp's Pikachu, but we will also gain that rare talking Typhlosion and a Ranger-class Sceptile if luck is on our side! Can you confirm it's them?"

Her partner, James, nodded as he spied on the group with a pair of special thermal-optical binoculars designed to neutralize stealth cloaks or any disguises. "Yep. It looks like those two dragons are a part of the little gang too."

"Oh, just excellent!" Jessie muttered giddily, trying to keep her voice down to prevent their cover from being blown. "We are so getting a fat paycheck for this!"

James could only agree with her in the same outrageous manner. "Not to mention the boss will hand us a great promotion if we are successful! We will be placed on the board of directors and we will at last rule the world! I can finally get that Ranger back too for blowing us away with his Dragonite!" He felt greatly humiliated after being beaten by Leon at the Johto International Airport, and he too appreciated the chance for payback.

"Aye, keep it down, will ya!?" the trio's talking Meowth warned, a strong hint of a Pokéwood accent present in his chattering voice. "We can't let them twerps sense that we are here!"

Having prepared a gigantic mecha walker resembling an oversized Meowth—the talking Pokémon wished for a war machine in his image and glory—the troublesome trio had prepared the heavily armoured, if somewhat ridiculous-looking, mechanical Pokémon with missiles, cluster explosives, lasers and electrical nets to capture their targets. If that wasn't enough, the Mecha-Meowth also housed a psychic jammer, one of the dozens of new inventions designed from the joint venture of Team Rocket and the UAAF. This beacon would intercept anything that relied on mental capacity to function such as mind reading, illusions, telekinesis, and mind control. It was specifically made to counter psychics, who in their past experiences had a tendency to fling armoured tanks over the horizon with one powerful telekinetic thrust. Proven to resist even the most powerful handheld anti-armour missiles, it was a guaranteed success and foolproof plan.

"Be quiet, Meowth!" James howled. "You were supposed to be preparing the mecha, so why are you here!? I'm also too busy studying that gorgeous girl and that other new Ranger who's joined the group!" The lavender-haired man observed Latias and Latios—the trio did not know of their human forms—and could only ponder on their identities.

Jessie smiled devilishly as she looked at the Pikachu who she thought was just too vulnerable as the Electric-type Pokémon followed his trainer on foot instead of hitching a ride on Ash's shoulder. "That little mouse is so vulnerable… We'll get that little pest this time for sure!"

"It's ready, you dim bulbs! I was here only to perform more reconnaissance as I'm a tactical genius!" the Scratch Cat Pokémon gloated. "Get your butts in gear and stop daydreaming!"

Ash's carefree-feeling group passed by the bush where Team Rocket was hiding in without any second thoughts, but rustling from within caught the attentions of Latios, Leon, and Krakatoa who were notably the ones that possessed heightened senses compared to other individuals of the group. All three of them paused and briefly surveyed at the strange bush that rattled and vibrated suspiciously. Latios, in particular, couldn't help but suspect they were being watched from a distance by… something. He possessed the ability to sense evil auras, ranging from the slightest cruel thoughts to full-blown malicious ideals of others. But for some reason, he couldn't get much of a lock on whatever was hiding in the undergrowth.

"What's wrong, Latios?" Bianca asked, catching up to the Dragon/Psychic-type Pokémon. "Is something bothering you?"

He narrowed his sharp eyes as he kept his vision on the bush. "Something's wrong. I feel like we are being watched. Do you feel it?"

"I do too," Leon agreed, confirming his mentor's thoughts. "We are not alone here."

"I have to agree with the Ranger. There's something nearby, and it isn't a wild Pokémon or anything similar to that," Krakatoa put forth, keeping his eyes on a small flock of Pidgey that suddenly flew overhead in vast amounts. "Why are those Pidgeys looking so alarmed as if there's a forest fire?" The birds were scattering in various directions and though Krakatoa could not read their minds, he knew that they wanted to be anywhere but the group's present location.

"I don't see anything," Brock remarked, surveying the area curiously and hearing nothing but small wild Pokémon chattering and the wind howling. "Come on you guys, maybe it's just a wild Pokémon. They're very common here as Viridian Forest is just a short thirty-minute drive from here."

Ash, being too focused on heading back to Pallet Town for a reunion with his mother and Pokémon, couldn't care less about insignificant disturbances caused by extremely common and widespread Pokémon that were almost an everyday sight for him. "Come on, you guys! What are we all waiting for? We can get from here to Pallet before sunset if we really work at it!" To his side, both Latias and Pikachu enthusiastically chirped in agreement, their smiles encouraging the group.

"Well, I think he's right…" Raine voiced out, noticing that storm clouds were gathering over the western horizon. "It might rain later on tonight so we should get a move on. I don't really see the big deal about a flock of Pidgey going wild."

"Actually… I think the other boys are right," Blade spoke out, uttering his first words since leaving Pewter City. "There is something really big composed of metals stomping towards this direction but I can't seem to point out who or what is operating it. My senses do not lie to me."

"Can you repeat that?" Latios requested, giving the Scizor a very concerned look. "I couldn't understand what you mean."

The ground began to vibrate and shake violently from a sudden tremor that came out of nowhere, and this threw the entire team off their feet in panic.

"What the hell?" Karkatoa gasped as he reeled from the successive tremors.

"I think Blade meant that we have company!" Leon spoke in shock and alarm as a gargantuan metallic Meowth stomped its way through some clearings of a nearby forest, flattening and demolishing any forms of vegetation that stood in its path. The size of the machine was one thing, but the laughable and ridiculous factor of the construct made him feel if he was dreaming.

"I think I have a very good feeling of who we are facing…" Brock drawled, having experienced countless acts of the same three dummies he had come across during his adventures with Ash.

"Don't remind me," Ash sighed. His Pikachu mimicked his actions, albeit in his own language.

"This doesn't make sense…" Latios stuttered, feeling a sense of grave danger. "Nothing would be able to slip past my detection! How can something that big possibly avoid being sensed by me?" As his psychic powers and abilities allowed him to detect anything hostile within a ten-kilometre radius, he was at a loss for words; he failed to comprehend how they were ambushed so suddenly.

"I have to agree with Latios here," Blade opined. "For some reason I could not sense this thing's approach. Something is up."

"Whatever it is, we're going to trash it!" Raine answered fearlessly.

Seconds passed as the humans decided on their next course of action, and three very familiar individuals made themselves known as they rose out of the roof of their machine on a platform that emerged from the top dome of the robotic Meowth's head, two of them being young adults donning Team Rocket uniforms while the final member of the trio was a Meowth with a particularly taunting expression plastered on his face. As always, the trio recited their motto once again to the group of humans and Pokémon, with Jessie and James simultaneously alternating between their speeches.

"To protect the world from devastation!"

"To unite all people within our nation!"

"To denounce the evils of truth and love!"

"To extend our reaches to the stars above!"



"Team Rocket blast off at the speed of light!"

"Surrender now or prepare to fight!"

"Meowth! That's right!" the Scratch Cat Pokémon concluded with a big toothy grin.

"Them again!?" Ash, Jimmy, Raine and Leon shouted in unison, prompting the quartet to gaze at one another in confusion.

"Wait a second here… You've met them before?" Ash asked his companions.

The Ranger rolled his eyes before he gave Ash a slight nod. "Yup. Tried to scam me for a couple of bucks when I first arrived in Johto at the airport. Needlessly to say, my Dragonite handled them efficiently and with expert precision… until I lost him to a band of mysterious agents. Not to these three hilarious misfits though. That would only make me look worse than I already am."

"Same here," Jimmy returned with a sad shake. "I thought Attila and Hun were bad, but these three take the trophy of the ultimate trio of idiots."

Raine hung her head in disappointment, still feeling slightly bitter after being fooled by them in the past. "I ran into them by complete accident. They sold me counterfeit Gym Badges!"

"How she fell for a parlour trick like that is beyond me," Brock mumbled under his breath. "What are you three doing here?"

Jessie snickered in a sinister manner at his comment. "Oh, nothing really… After all, you've got some rare Pokémon with you at the moment and we only want to take them to the boss for a quick profit! It appears that you have a pair of rare Pokémon that the boss designates as a Latias and Latios!"

Latios stumbled back in disbelief. "How… how did they see through a disguise that completely changes my DNA structure!?"

"Perhaps they have some anti-stealth tech that recognizes odd structures within cells," Leon answered quietly. "This troublesome trio of misfits has possibly everything that makes conventional human military tech look bland, although the tech looks as though they've been constructed by several brain-dead Mankeys." The Ranger tried to stifle his laughter, holding back the thought of transforming into his Latios state for the moment.

"WHAT DID YOU SAY?!" Team Rocket's Meowth screeched angrily in response.

Krakatoa crossed his arms before he cackled loudly, "What he meant to say was that how can a trio of idiotic buffoons like you never give up! We'll beat you so hard that your lame spineless boss will hide his tail like a coward once he knows of us!"

"Poor Ash," Latios thought. "Being pursued by three ragtag idiots must be detrimental for his brain cells. But I can't help but think that these three have something up their sleeves."

James pumped his right fist in anger, clearly offended by their mocking of their boss. "No one talks trash about our boss like that! Well, we'll see who'll be giving up once you meet our brand-new Meowth Mecha 9000! Why don't you send out your rare Pokémon so we can snag them faster than your eyes can blink?" To his sides, Jessie and Meowth were laughing in triumph at their "glorious" invention, believing it to be virtually indestructible to all forms of heavy attacks.

"What great naming sense they have…" Raine drawled sarcastically, growing impatient with each passing second as she grabbed a Poké Ball from her belt. "Let's send these brain-dead freaks packing and be done with it!"

"I'm not sure…" Bianca expressed with concern as she feared greatly for her Eon dragon friends' safety. "But I'm not backing down if everyone else is fighting."

"I'm not stepping out of this either!" Ash announced, grabbing a Poké Ball from his belt. "Let us all handle it."

Ash's verbal gesture of announcing his intent to battle prompted Raine and Brock to draw their own Poké Balls from their belts, but Leon and Latios had other plans. Communicating with each other telepathically, they decided to play rough in their own fashion.

"Telepathic assault?" Latios suggested. "Frying their machine should be fun."

"My thoughts exactly. I want to see if my new abilities are as cracked up as they are supposed to be," Leon replied.

Both Rangers turned to each other, nodded in unison, and returned their attention to the gigantic machine that Team Rocket had brought with them. Closing their eyes, they casted a powerful telekinetic wave in an attempt to mentally crush the three Rocket agents' machine with one stroke from the mind, but all that resulted in a backlash as a tremendous headache erupted in their heads as soon as they tapped into their mind-oriented powers. Before they could do anything about it, their own Psychic-based attacks were directed right back at them. Latios and Leon both fell to the ground, clenching their heads in pain. No one knew what was going on, except for the Rocket operatives.

"We came prepared, twerps!" James cheered, having activated the onboard psychic jammer just in time. "Your mind tricks are not going to work this time around!"

"Big brother!" Latias cried as she sprinted forward to help her sibling who was gasping as if he was suffering extreme pain.

"Corporal!" Krakatoa spoke alarmingly, helping Leon back to his feet. "What in the name of Arceus happened!?"

"That thing… whatever it is, it just nullified our telekinesis and sent it back at us in the form of a mental Psychic-style attack," Latios grunted out, reeling from the mental shock. At the same time, he noticed Latias wincing in pain too as she clenched her teeth, holding her head in pain.

"Help… My head hurts…" she whimpered mentally, her head ringing in the most torturing sensation she was ever subjected to in her life. She fell to her knees as extreme pain punished her nerves without mercy.

"Nice try!" Meowth cackled at the successfulness of the Psychic-type countermeasure device they possessed. "But we always plan ahead and ensure every fault and error is corrected, so there's no easy way out for you!"

"Get them out of here!" Raine alerted, having seen such a trick before during her times of incarceration by Team Rocket. "That thing has a psychic jammer that renders any Psychic-type's greatest abilities useless and sends it right back at them!"

"Oh, look!" Jessie exclaimed mockingly. "The little girl did her homework! Behold our boss's best invention that'll inevitably bring your Pokémon to our side! The psychic jammer beacon will neutralize any mind tricks that your lovely dragons will bring against us and we made it that way so you won't get to use them in this battle!"

Both James and Meowth high-fived each other, feeling delighted that victory was within reach.

On Raine's command, Ash immediately pulled Latias back to prevent her from being subjected to any further pain. Bringing her back to Bianca, the trainer informed her to take care of the disguised Eon dragon while he dealt with Team Rocket's latest invention. "Don't worry about me. If we can disable that psychic thingamabob, then we should have no worries. For now, let me think of how to deal with this thing… I've seen it before—numerous times, as a matter of fact."

Bianca, nodded, cradling Latias in her arms. "Okay. Be careful, Ash."

Krakatoa, with his friend by his side and rendered somewhat helpless, gritted his teeth. They had lost their greatest advantage and skilled trainers just because of a snag in their team's weaknesses, but nevertheless they were not going to capitulate so easily.

"I'll take you all on, one-on-three! Come on, BRING IT!" the human/Typhlosion hybrid roared.

"Is that so?" Jessie taunted before she, along with the other agents, disappeared back into the machine. The mechanized monstrosity proceeded to fire a barrage of missiles from a multi-missile launcher poised on its right shoulder; all of them homed in at Krakatoa with frightening speed and accuracy.

"Give me a break," the Fire-type exhaled exasperatedly before he melted the incoming missiles with one Flamethrower, causing the warheads to explode prematurely as if they were nothing more than volatile firecrackers. Behind him, Brock, Raine, Ash, Bianca and Leon all flung several Poké Balls into the air. "Here they come again, but what can I say, I greatly appreciate the assistance."

"Go, Steelix!" Brock commanded, calling upon the gigantic Iron Snake Pokémon to battle.

"Dragonite and Rotom, time for battle!" Raine shouted, releasing her strongest and most inexperienced Pokémon, respectively.

"Buizel, I choose you!" Ash declared loudly, summoning the Sea Weasel Pokémon.

"Help them out, Pidgeotto!" Bianca yelled as her recently caught companion was sent out.

"Give them justice, Sceptile!" Leon hollered, ordering his Ranger partner to contribute to the battle.

The Pokémon summoned into the battle emerged from their Poké Balls and took their places on either side of Krakatoa, each putting forth a determined expression. Facing down the enormous Meowth war machine that shadowed over them, they prepared for the worst but not a single one of the Pokémon were ever going to give up unless they fainted as a result of fighting against the Rockets.

"This'll be fun," Jessie sneered, witnessing all the rare and experienced Pokémon that were available for capture. "Not only do we have the Latias and Latios up for grabs, but the twerp has so foolishly sent his Pikachu into the fight, not to mention there are even more rare prizes and easy-to-snatch Pokémon up for grabs! Our boss will be so happy for this great success!"

James leaned against the controls inside the cockpit of the machine, giggling at the prospect of presenting a rare legendary to Giovanni. "At least we can prove ourselves useful to the elite ranks!"

"Aye, quit your yapping and let's get down to business! We can celebrate after we actually succeed," Meowth interrupted. "Power up this machine and let's smash those twerps into paste!"

The machine went into battle against the trainers' Pokémon, unleashing its arsenal of weapons ranging from simple machine guns to odd-looking turrets that utilized reverse-engineered Pokémon attacks, against the smaller and more agile targets.

"Should I enter the battle too, master?" Blade questioned. He had refrained from using his mind-reading abilities not to avoid pain; rather, his powers were neutralized completely due to the limitedness of his psychic powers.

"No," Raine answered, suspecting of Team Rocket's tendency to play dirty. "I need you to help me protect the group should these bandits try anything funny against us. Protect our friends, understand?"

"Very well. I will keep myself on guard," The gold-coloured Scizor agreed without any objections. "I just wish everyone else here knows what they are doing…"

Meanwhile, Leon, Latias, Latios and Bianca chose to fight their own ways, and despite the psychic jammer putting them in an extremely unfair advantage, they were still able to fight due to a flaw in the Team Rocket invention. As long as they did not use their mind powers such as mind reading, telekinesis, or any psychic-related attacks, they would not be affected. This forced Latias to lose her human disguise although Latios kept his up as his transformation ability wasn't a mere deception of the sight and mind, but rather fully genuine.

"Latias, are you all right?" Bianca asked, holding Latias's head gently.

The Eon dragoness nodded her head weakly. "I'll be fine. I'll do my best to protect the team if I can." She noticed both Rangers scrambling back to their footing and preparing to enter the battle. "Please be careful, brother! I don't know what that thing is, but it's neutralizing our powers and turning them against us!"

"I will, sis. I know what I'm doing here," Latios responded calmly.

"Don't worry," Leon assured her with a confident grin, his head slightly throbbing from the headache he had suffered earlier. "As long as we don't place too much emphasis on our mental capacities, the psychic jammer won't be part of the equation. Ash! Are you ready for this?"

Ash cocked his head towards his friend and nodded. "Always! Latias, Latios, stay out of direct confrontations with the robot until we can somehow neutralize this thing that's jamming your abilities! Focus on covering and protecting the team."

Latios clenched his fists in anger, irritated that he was not going to be able to contribute to the battle much given his weaknesses. "Okay. But take caution. I sense that this machine has hundreds of tricks up its sleeve."

"One more thing I thought you'd like to know," Leon voiced out. "The psychic jammer has a limited range and only affects those who have weak minds, such as Latias."

Both Eon siblings growled angrily at him for his last statement, prompting the Ranger to quickly correct himself. "Sorry… I mean, less experienced. Pardon my usage of words."

"I'm still learning, thank you very much," Latias grumbled, somewhat offended by the comment.

Leon laughed nervously as he scratched his head, realizing he had just greatly offended his ally and mentor's younger sister. "Please accept my sincere apologies then. But listen to me carefully. That psychic jammer is only effective towards anything that is within a certain radius of its projection field. Outside of that range, it won't pose any significant harm. Trust me, I've seen one of these before. Quite a supply of these devices was in the hands of the Pokémon Pinchers and the Shield of Sirius in Oblivia until the Ranger Corps busted them. How Team Rocket got access to these is beyond me."

"I got it," Latios confirmed. "I'll try to stay out of the range. Latias, protect the group, okay? I'm sure they'll be aiming for Ash if they get the chance, and I do not wish for him, or anyone else for that matter, to be harmed."

"Okay big brother!" she cheerfully answered with a bright smile, looking forward to defend her love with all her strength and ability.

"Let's do this." Leon gritted his teeth, beads of sweat forming on his head. "I've always wanted to get these three back for trying to scam me for a couple of bucks!" Detaching the styler from his belt and transforming the capture device into a powerful energy whip-like weapon, he wondered if he ever had to use the standard-issue Ranger tool as an offensive tool but then realized it wasn't a good prospect to begin with, and thus deactivated it and stored it back in its holster. Fortunately, he could still shift into his Latios form should he ever have to intervene.

"Wish I had a sniper rifle. It'd make my job a whole lot easier," the Ranger thought, hoping to use a long-ranged weapon to disable the machine's vital components such as the eye-like cameras of the mech. He had no intents on harming the Team Rocket trio, but disabling the cameras would make his and his friends' lives a lot easier.

Latios rolled his eyes in response to Leon's fantasies of using ridiculously powerful human weapons in battle. "I'm not a big fan of guns considering they bring the greatest evils from man's heart. It disgusts me they were designed for the sole purpose of being employed against their common foe—themselves."

"I can understand…" the Ranger sympathized with the Eon dragon, remembering all the friends he lost to bullets and grenades.

The battle was already underway by the time Leon and Latios decided to join in after discovering a weakness in the psychic jammer's operations: it would not have any effect on them if they keep themselves as far away as possible from the device's projection field, meaning that they could only contribute via long-ranged attacks. Brock and Raine formed the bulk of the attack with their Steelix and Dragonite respectively as they pummelled the machine with endless and unrelenting Iron Tails and Dragon Rushes, while Ash's Buizel and Pikachu, together with Raine's Rotom, delivered speedy and evasive hit-and-run attacks against the machine with every opportunity that presented to them with Aqua Jets, Shock Waves and Thunderbolts. Bianca's Pidgeotto provided indispensible support by acting as a form of distraction, her swift speed easily drawing the attention of Team Rocket as they tried to nail her out of the sky. Concurrently, Leon's Sceptile and Krakatoa assaulted the machine with Flamethrowers, Blast Burns, Bullet Seeds, and Energy Balls. While the Pokémon were brave and never let up in battle, their attacks were rather meagre and didn't inflict much damage, with the exception of Krakatoa's overwhelming Blast Burns that threatened to melt the machine.

"Steelix, use Iron Tail to eliminate that rocket launcher!" Brock yelled, directing his Pokémon to target the multi-missile launcher device that kept on targeting their Pokémon with heat-seeking explosives.

His prized Pokémon, presumably to be the strongest on his team roster, gave off a bellowing roar that was so intense that it scared away many of the wild native Pokémon settled nearby as it reared its massive tail before directing it at the Multiple Launch Rockets System turret.

"Not so fast!" Meowth interrupted before he slammed another button on the weapons control panel, deploying a vicious-looking flamethrower cannon which emerged from the chest of the mechanical beast in his own image. "Let's see how your mighty Pokémon survives this!"

A blazing jet of fire sprang from the chest-mounted flamethrower's nozzle, the heat scorching Brock's Steelix and forcing it back as it cringed in burning pain due to its vulnerability against Fire-based attacks. The fact that the flames became plastered in a form of molten jelly-like substance only inflicted further damage and excruciating burns.

"High score!" James cackled as he witnessed the success of their napalm-based flamethrower weapon.

"Buizel! Cool Steelix down with a Hydro Pump!" Ash screamed as he decided to give his close friend a little support.

His Water-type Pokémon loosed a blast of cold water from his mouth, drenching Brock's Pokémon with ice-cold liquids that quickly cooled off the heat irritating and heavily damaging it. Despite the fact it could have done heavy damage against it, the water fired from Buizel counteracted the heat and burning sensation on Steelix's massive, iron-coated body and both elements neutralized each other upon contact.

"Thanks, I owe you one!" Brock thanked his friend.

"Not a problem, old friend," Ash replied with a grin. Shifting his vision away from his dark-skinned companion, Ash immediately noticed Latias who was floating beside him in her Pokémon form; her posture and closeness to the trainer made him blush slightly. "Latias? Aren't you supposed to be back there?"

"Nope! I'm here to protect you in case they attack you!" she spoke mentally, remembering to keep her projection of telepathic speech to a minimum. Although she was experiencing minor headaches, the Eon dragoness wasn't going to let that discourage her from fighting alongside her trainer and object of affection. "Don't worry, I have you covered and protected!"

The trainer nodded in a rather unsure manner. "Just be wary and don't hurt yourself. That machine will counter any Psychic-based attacks in a nasty fashion!"

Latias blushed a bit from her trainer's caring comments. "You stay vigilant too!"

Team Rocket soon took notice of the apparent threat that Raine's Dragonite and Rotom posed against their machine. The hulking Dragon Pokémon could easily trash the machine with its overwhelming physical strength if given the chance, while the Plasma Pokémon, despite being no bigger than a light bulb, could short-circuit the machine's fragile interiors with one powerful Electric-based attack if it found an opening.

"Get rid of those pests and secure the prizes!" Jessie screeched madly, targeting an Ice Beam cannon at Raine's pair of fighters. A chilling blast of energy struck the Dragon Pokémon before it had a chance to evade, forcing it on the defensive as it shielded itself from the arctic-cold winds. Rotom was forced to retreat too as its body also began to freeze.

"Dragonite!" its trainer cried out in shock. The Pokémon fell to the ground, bits of ice encrusted around its body.

"Now, we go for the capture!" James chortled in a victorious tone as he fired a standard net at the downed pseudo-legendary Pokémon. Raine's aerial Pokémon, although immensely powerful, was greatly weakened by the Ice Beam that struck it head-on.

"Not on my watch!" Leon's Sceptile took down the incoming net with one swift Leaf Blade, reducing it to shreds of fabric confetti, and landed in front of Raine's Pokémon with a grin. "I'll handle this. Use this moment to quickly heal, got me?"

"Y-Yeah," Dragonite stuttered slightly from the sheer coldness of the attack inflicted upon it. "Thanks for the assistance, but don't hurt yourself!"

"Don't worry about it, girl! It's my honor to cover such a lovely lady," the Forest Pokémon articulated in a carefree manner.

The Ranger's Sceptile contributed an unrelenting wave of machine gun fire in the form of highly explosive Bullet Seeds, the miniature pellets detonating against the machine's armour harmlessly. Whenever he ran short, he would pump his arms in an upright position as if he was cocking a gun. "Master, we'll need a better plan here! This thing is made of something that seems to resist powerful attacks, including Krakatoa's fiery Blast Burns. Steelix isn't doing too well either as it's taking the brunt of the attacks for us!" he yelled into the sky, taking cover as Brock's Pokémon bravely covered the pair from any further attacks with its steely hide and structure.

"Hold on there, Steelix!" Brock yelled. "Keep them safe!" His Pokémon grunted in reply.

"Will do," Leon noted as he patrolled the sky up above, keeping his focus on the machine but making sure not to be harmed by the psychic jammer's headache-inducing psionic waves.

Jimmy's Blast Burns were overwhelmingly devastating to both organic and mechanical targets alike, but the Volcano Pokémon had to avoid using it in excessive amounts as they greatly drained his energy. Instead, he opted for his trademark Flamethrower, subjecting the machine to jet after jet of intense, earth-scorching heat. He noticed Ash joining in on the fight too as he prepared to charged forward to join the knowledgeable Typhlosion in the fight.

He'd realize Ash would become a viable target for the Rockets too if the three learned that he was partly Pokémon. "Ash, no! You can't-"

The Pokémon Trainer's transformation capability came into play as he witnessed both his Buizel and Pikachu become exposed to direct hits from an Ice Beam and Thunderbolt, fired from the robot Meowth's right paw which happened to possess three elemental weapons. Both Pokémon stumbled back in heavy damage as they crashed at their trainer's feet, but determinedly struggled back into the battle only to witness their trainer undergoing a transformation process.

Ash's body became encompassed by a blue aura as his human shape transformed into the bipedal bear-like physique of a Typhlosion, albeit with black fur running down his back and jet-black eyes in the place of red irises. Seething with anger and rage, he tried to enter the fight but Latias dissuaded him from doing so.

"Let me at them!" Ash shouted angrily.

"No!" Latias cried mentally as the trainer inevitably dragged her into the fight as well. "I don't want you to get hurt!"

Brock dropped his jaws in shock upon witnessing his best friend morphing into a Pokémon. "Ash transformed…"

"What a sight. Now I wonder how Team Rocket will react," Blade pondered. In truth, the troublesome trio of thieves' reactions was partially humorous as their screaming was so loud in terms of volume that it could be heard from the outside of the biological weapons-proof machine.

"Did that twerp just TRANSFORM into a Pokémon!?" James widened his eyes in fear. The fact Ash was an extremely angry and explosive creature only added more of the shock and fright to the agent's voice.

Jessie clenched the controls of the mech angrily, remembering all the times when she wanted to flatten the Pokémon Trainer personally for his acts that always foiled their 'genius' plans for approximately five hundred times. "Delightful! That gives me all the more reasons to not hold back against him! Begin the assault and kick the overdrive systems into full gear!"

"Good! Double the catch, double the pay! Not to mention this will snag that Latias too!" Meowth laughed, clicking a button on the weapons panel. A pair of EMP nets housed inside a missile ejected from the shoulder mounted rocket launcher system, targeted at Ash and Krakatoa with intent to snagging them with one swift procedure. "Happy birthday, twerps!"

"Ash, Latias, Krakatoa! Look out!" Bianca cried, catching sight of the missile being directed at them. Her Pidgeotto was far too preoccupied with several missiles chasing her, and thus, she couldn't call on her to aid the boys.

The missile opened its nosecone structure before the metal fuselage of the projectile was discarded, and an electrifying net opened up from within, threatening to capture the now transformed Ash and Krakatoa in its grasp. The pair of Typhlosion immediately used their Flamethrowers as a means of burning up the nets rapidly, only to gape in shock as the nets absorbed their Fire-based attacks effectively.

"Those nets have been retrofitted with non-flammable cloth!" Meowth cackled from within the cockpit. "You're helpless now!"

"This is bad!" Krakatoa cried, shielding himself as he prepared to be inevitably captured.

Ash clutched the Eon dragoness tightly by the neck, trying to futilely protect her from the inevitable capture as he tightly clenched his fangs in extreme desperation.

"Leon, neutralize that net with Steel Wing!" Latios's voice called out from the sky, keeping his promise to protect his friends.

Out of nowhere, a pair of Latios descended from the sky in a formation akin to jet fighters in an air show, one of them possessing the normal coloration and the other shaded with a hue of aquamarine blue. Their wings gave off a gleam of silver light before hardening into sword-like weapons and with lightning speed, both Latios and Leon flew through the electromagnetic pulse net in a scissors-like fashion, slicing the fabric into shreds as the pieces drifted onto the ground uselessly, some sparking a bit since the net still had some power left. Both dual-type Dragon/Psychic Pokémon descended back onto the battlefield as the aura that they projected to protect them during the strike dissipated.

Ash and Krakatoa looked up, and saw two Latios smiling at them via their piercing glares, their blood-red eyes a standing testimony of how determined they were for battle. They never expected aid from them, but there they were.

"Latios? Leon?" Jimmy questioned. "I thought—"

"Who did you expect?" the transformed Ranger boasted, slapping his chest with his right forearm. "Thought we ran away because we are placed at a grave disadvantage here? Not in a hundred years!"

"I thought you two were affected by the psychic jammer!" Ash uttered incredulously, surprised at how both Rangers, one of them being a genuine one and the other masquerading as one, were now showing little to no signs of being harmed by the sinister Team Rocket beacon.

"We were," Latios began, levitating steadily, "but we also discovered a weakness. It does not harm us unless we use our Psychic-based moves within its range. Of course, we have more tactics and strategies than mind control or simply ending the fight with a Luster Purge. While you shouldn't be in this fight, Ash… I can clearly understand your motives to get back at these clowns and I won't object to that at all. Latias, I need you to cover us and Ash for the fight. Can you do that? The psychic jammer, for some reason, also acts as an energy shield generator and power source for this… thing, meaning standard attacks will deal less damage. If we can neutralize it, we should be able to end it quickly!" He realized by heavily damaging the sinister anti-psychic contraption, it would somehow weaken the Team Rocket machine's power shield and energy reserves severely.

"Yes I can!" his sister answered favourably to her sibling's plan.

"Ten-four on that Latios. Sceptile, pair up with Latias!" Leon ordered his partner mentally, given his incapability of speech while in his Pokémon state. "Cover us should we miss or not notice anything coming at us, got it?! Defend Latias too if necessary—we can handle ourselves here!"

The Grass-type Pokémon nodded his head firmly. "Yes Corporal!"

Ash decided to take the chance to expose his Pokémon to less harm, while he, along with Krakatoa, Latios and Leon would be doing the heavy lifting throughout the battle. "Pikachu and Buizel, you do the same! Act as backup, okay?" His two Pokémon spoke their own names in confirmation before retreating to safety near Sceptile and Latias.

"Get ready, everyone!" Ash commanded loudly, readying himself in a battle stance as he faced off defiantly against the gigantic mecha looming over the group. "These three have plenty of fight left in them, so stay focused!"

The other three that accompanied him in the standoff silently nodded.

Brock, Raine, Bianca and Blade observed the fight with awe and wordlessness, as it was the first time that both hybrids and originals had teamed up for a united battle against a common enemy.

"This is something you don't see every day," Raine remarked. "A shiny Latios is one thing, but seeing it pair up with another Latios is really something."

"I guess we all owe him our thanks that Latios is alive," Bianca said, realizing that if either Ash or Leon hadn't showed up, Latios would have been likely to have perished for eternity. "The teamwork they're showing is a living example of the strong friendships and bonds they all have, even if they only knew each other for a few days or so."

Jessie, James and Meowth all observed the group of four below, and despite not being aware of the true potentials that the Pokémon and hybrids had harnessed and carried in their bodies, they were more than confident that their gigantic Meowth machine could easily capture them all and quickly end the battle. Behind them were more Pokémon, but it was unlikely they were to enter the fight after the lesson the Team Rocket trio had taught them earlier.

"Let's rumble!" James barked with fierce spirit, deploying even more weapons on the machine with a tap of a button on the control panel, eager to capture the oddly-coloured Eon Pokémon. "Focus all the fire on those two Latios!"

"You got it! Eat this frozen treat, you two dragon annoyances!" Meowth cackled diabolically as he aimed the Ice Beam turrets at Latios and Leon and slammed the fire button with his paw.

The machine creaked and groaned as the turret placed on the left shoulder of the mechanized Pokémon whirred to life before it fired off a chilly bolt of ice at the two male Eon dragons.

"Latios, move out!" Leon commanded, realizing that it would prove to be more advantageous for them to stay airborne.

Latios and Leon shot for the partially cloudy sky above them, flying at speeds equivalent to that of a jet fighter's. Down below, Ash and Krakatoa attempted to interrupt the path of the Ice Beams directed at their allies with a powerful jet of fire, and while they were able to neutralize both bolts of Ice-based energy, the machine and its crew had more plans for countering the twerps and their ragtag team.

"Nice try, kids!" Jessie announced. "We didn't forget about you two either!"

One of the arm-mounted weapons of the Team Rocket construction directed its aim at Ash and Krakatoa before a gigantic laser beam of some unknown element was fired.

"Counter it!" Krakatoa bawled in retaliation, firing a Blast Burn at it with high hopes of consuming the laser beam in one blow, only to see his attack end in failure. The stream of fire simply dissipated as it made contact with the red beam. "What the hell?! It didn't work? Again?"

"Lousy idiot!" Meowth laughed at the futile gesture with a rather arrogant and threatening voice. "Now you will learn the true power of our invention!"

The bolt of heated energy targeted the two Volcano Pokémon, and both immediately rolled backwards to prevent themselves from being fried to ashes by the mammoth streak of light.

Team Rocket was persevering and far more competent this time around however, as James redirected the beam's focus and the heated projection of light made its way over to its two targets, leaving a trench-shaped path of blackened and charred soil in its wake.

"Damn!" Krakatoa cursed. "I thought they were too dimwitted to track us."

"Don't underestimate them," Ash warned, clearly knowing of the dangers the trio were capable of with their bags of tricks and traps. "I'm pretty sure they've gotten a lot smarter since our last encounter. Now what? We can't stop it with our own attacks nor can we outrun a laser on foot!"

"I'm coming, Ash!" a voice cried into the Pokémon Trainer's mind.

Behind them, Latias flew towards to join them before she generated a protective field around her and the pair of Typhlosions. The laser beam made contact with her barrier as Jessie attempted to amplify the intensity of the energy bolt even further, but this only resulted in the laser sparking violently for a few moments as it made contact with Latias's shield. This forced the pilots aboard the machine to disengage the laser cannon due to a lack of energy—it required some time to recharge—and prevent the weapon from overheating and backfiring against their machine.

"Good job, Latias!" Ash commended with a smile, the Eon dragoness hovering behind him about three feet above the ground.

"Saved by a girl… How embarrassing," Krakatoa muttered softly. If there was one thing he hated, it was being aided or rescued by someone who was less experienced than him, human and Pokémon notwithstanding. "I owe you one though."

She grinned cheekily as a way of returning the compliment. "I'm just trying to help you out!"

Up in the sky, both Latios and Leon wondered how they were going to counter the machine. In spite of its joke factor, the two quickly learned that the machine was by far no means a laughing stock when it came to combat. It repelled the majority of powerful moves as evidenced by their allies' first few attempts, and the psychic jammer made their task all the more difficult as they were not able to use their trump cards—Luster Purge and Luster Blast respectively—to easily reduce the machine to a husk of smoking scrap metal.

"Are we going to sit back and let them fight like this? We need to help them!" Leon alerted his partner, watching his friends take a severe beating from the war machine's missiles, lasers and elemental attacks.

Latios bit his lips as his facial expression fell dark. "We will. I only chose to flee up here temporarily as a way to dodge that Ice Beam, not to mention formulate strategies without getting a serious headache from that jammer." He rubbed his head to relieve himself of the painful headache acquired earlier; the migraine was by far one of the most painful sensations he had ever felt in his life.

"Got a plan then?"

"Yes," Latias's brother confirmed. "If we can neutralize the psychic jammer, we're home free, but it's housed in heavy armour that'll require some serious cracking. Let me think-"

Having had enough of sitting back and doing nothing while his friends were on the ground engaging the Team Rocket machine, the Ranger pulled himself back before he quickly dived down into the battle. "Whatever your choice is, I'm going to join the fight! Planning is a complete waste of time during situations like this, so see ya later!" he laughed, shooting downwards as he began to charge a Dragon Pulse between his claws.

Wanting to scold Leon for his recklessness, he shook the thoughts out of his head when he realized his apprentice did have some valid points. "Trying to argue with him is pointless, but… yeah, I'm not letting sis and Ash have all the fun here." He shot after the rather reckless Ranger as the pair of Eon Pokémon dived in on the machine like Staraptors flying in for the capture of unsuspecting prey.

The machine resumed its relentless assault against Ash and his friends on the ground, firing volleys of endless attacks, of both Pokémon and human origin alike, at the group.

"Steelix! Try to destroy the right arm of that machine with Iron Tail again!" Brock ordered once more, wishing for at least some success.

"Not this time!" James interrupted, activating the flamethrower and bringing the weapon of mass inferno online.

The Iron Snake Pokémon bellowed its battle cry as it rushed at the gigantic Meowth machine, intent on crushing the designated target into scrap metal with one overwhelming strike of its hulking tail. Rearing itself back as it easily forced its way through almost every attack that Team Rocket threw at it with extreme resilience and toughness, it was just about to be within striking range when the chest-mounted flamethrower turret of the robot came to life again, blasting Brock's Pokémon with unrelenting and scorching napalm that was perfectly capable of reducing a lightly-armoured vehicle to a pile of charred steel. This caused the strongest Pokémon on his current roster to bellow in pain as its energy was quickly drained, and seconds passed before the Steelix crashed into the ground in defeat coupled with a thundering thud noise.

Sighing, Brock returned his Pokémon upon watching his powerhouse fall in defeat. "You did well, Steelix. I'm sorry guys, but it looks like I'm out of this one."

"That's going to leave a mark…," Blade mumbled, fearing the implications of being torched by the highly flammable substance which could potentially kill him. He uncharacteristically whined, "Why does every worthy-looking opponent always employ Fire-based attacks?"

"Don't worry about it Blade, you've earned your rest after that fight at Mt. Moon. We'll handle this!" Raine told him. "Dragonite, give it your Hyper Beam! Strike the flame turret and destroy it!"

"Bianca! I need your Pokémon's assistance!" Ash yelled, suddenly thinking up of a brilliant strategy to employ against the walker that would work as a frustrating distraction, at least on Team Rocket's part. "Let Buizel hitch a ride on your Pidgeotto and let him act as a shooter!"

The girl gave Ash a nod of confirmation. "Okay. You heard him, Pidgeotto!"

The Bird Pokémon quickly flew over to the Weasel Pokémon as Ash's companion quickly hopped on, mounting himself on the back of the skilled Normal/Flying-type Pokémon. She took off into the air, with Buizel constantly firing Ice Shards at the walker like a machine gunner poised on the back of an olden-day bomber aircraft.

"Knock that pest out of the sky!" Jessie declared angrily, aiming the Meowth robot's left paw at the airborne target before discharging bolts after bolts of lightning. However, Bianca's Pokémon was just too skilled to be hit as she evasively skirted each and every arc of electricity fired towards the sky, making sure her passenger didn't fall off by accident or get hit in the process. "She's too fast! The systems can't track her!"

While the Ice Shards inflicted minimal damage to the machine, Ash's Buizel became an instrumental Pokémon as he destroyed missiles and other projectile-based attacks with his rapid-firing attack, the sharpened pieces of ice piercing the missiles and causing them to explode prematurely before reaching their intended targets.

"We already have enough issues on the ground!" James yelped as combined attacks from Sceptile, Ash and Krakatoa occurred without end; various Fire-based attacks and Energy Balls impacted the machine, causing the warning sirens inside the cockpit to go off. "At this rate, they'll penetrate the composite armour plating!"

Raine knew this was the time to inflict some serious damage to the machine, given the fact that Team Rocket had their attention elsewhere. "Dragonite, Hyper Beam!"

The pseudo-legendary Pokémon nodded in obedience and took this chance of opportunity to directly nail the walking Meowth tank right in the chest with a powerful beam that had the potential to blast through heavy armour. A ball of gold-coloured energy amassed from within the relatively toothless maw of the Dragon Pokémon and it fired the Normal-based attack without delay.

As Jessie, James and Meowth were kept busy trying to keep Ash, Krakatoa, Sceptile, Latias and Buizel from damaging the machine, they did not notice the incoming beam that was targeted right at them. To top it all off, a pair of divebombing Eon Pokémon only kept the distraction up as James desperately tried to shoot down Leon and Latios with the multi-rocket launcher and laser beam.

"You have the aim of a three-year old rebel!" Leon mentally taunted while ignoring the headache that was attempting to pound into his mind, weaving in and out of the missiles. Behind him, Latios simply neutralized them as they missed the Ranger and exploded against his defensive aura. Both Dragon/Psychic-types had a turquoise-coloured ball of energy charged between their claws and aimed at the shoulder-mounted weapons. "Ready, Latios?"

"Always. Just give me the signal!" he shot back loudly.

"Incoming ambush!" Meowth screamed, catching the Hyper Beam directed straight at them for a head-on collision with the flamethrower. The weapon was still igniting everything within a limited radius at full blaze, forcing some of the Pokémon on a retreat except for Ash and Krakatoa—the pair of Volcano Pokémon simply waded through the flames as if they were splashing through puddles of water. "Shut down the flamethrower before-"

The command from the Scratch Cat Pokémon came a bit too late as the Dragonite's attack made contact with the volatile stream of fire composed of burning liquid, and the Hyper Beam reacted violently upon contact with the flames spurting from the flamethrower. A spectacular explosion erupted from the jet, a chain reaction that led to the flame-spewing turret to explode into multiple pieces and leave a gaping hole in the chest of the walker.

Buizel was given the chance to attack even more as the Team Rocket construction fell silent, the Weasel Pokémon hammering the metal Meowth with dozens of bullets composed of pure ice. "Keep it steady!" he shouted to Bianca's Pidgeotto in his native language.

"Okay, little guy. Just be prepared for any evasive manoeuvres!" the Bird Pokémon alerted him before flying in a tight circle around the machine up above, her passenger continuing his assault.

Team Rocket's contraption was heavily damaged; it was far from knocked out though the crew aboard feared that prospect might become reality very soon. "What was that!?" Jessie shouted alarmingly, feeling a tremendous shockwave rocking the machine generated from the exploding flame turret.

"We've suffered critical damage!" James screamed as alarms went off in the machine, various warning messages of impending destruction and hardware failure being sent to the crew of three. "That last attack took out the retractable armour plating that protected the flamethrower when it's not in use!"

"Quit your complaining!" Meowth roared in response, giving his partner a sharp slap across the face. "Proceed to engage the backup systems!"

While the Team Rocket trio continued to bicker and discuss in a disordered fashion of what to do next, Ash and Raine both seized the opening without hesitation as they ordered their Pikachu and Rotom respectively to immediately use Thunderbolt to damage the highly delicate and exposed internal components of the machine. The pair also wished that this move would grant critical damage to their mechanical adversary via short-circuiting the onboard electronics.

"Pikachu, Thunderbolt!" Ash ordered, pointing his paw and directing his Pokémon to hit the exposed chest of the robot.

"You too, Rotom! Support the little guy's Thunderbolt with your own!" Raine added.

Pikachu screamed his signature battle cry as he charged thousands worth of volts of electricity within his tiny body, and in moments a gigantic zigzagging bolt of lightning erupted from it, locked onto Team Rocket's machine. Rotom complemented this attack by generating a different type of lightning, and while not as effective as Ash's Pokémon in terms of pure destructive power, it was just as potent and lethal that could easily short-circuit various types of machinery. The blue waves of electric energy conducted from the pint-sized body of the Plasma Pokémon merged with Pikachu's bolts, the supercharged Electric-type attack striking the thirty foot-tall Meowth mechanized walker and frying the majority of the onboard systems with one shocking blast.

Jessie, James and Meowth had no idea what had happened as they were subjected to a shockwave of pure electricity, stunning their bodies and making them scream uncontrollably. This kept them off the weapons and controls as they were completely unaware of the approaching aerial assault above them. Leon and Latios rapidly approached from the air upon noticing the rocket launcher and laser turret fall silent and inactive, despite being clearly displayed on their radar monitor as the two were not cloaked at the moment.

"Now that felt good," Pikachu remarked proudly.

Rotom laughed childishly, "Must've been awfully tingling for the trio! How do they even manage to survive that?"

Pikachu shrugged. "Dunno. They've been doing a pretty fine job of it for the past six years. Perhaps Mew views them favourably and grants them her protection?"

"Latios, fire away!" Leon ordered as he released his grip on the Dragon Pulse he was charging between his claws and directed the attack at the shoulder-mounted rocket launcher. Behind him, Latios gave a quick nod of approval before launching his own Dragon Pulse. The pair of turquoise-coloured spheres slammed into the targeted weapons and blasted them to pieces upon impact. The rocket launcher, along with another weapon the two couldn't bother to identify, were immediately turned to scrap metal as a result.

"Good job. Let's break off before we get too affected by the psychic jammer!" Latios alerted his partner as he quickly broke off and flew back towards his teammates.

"At least that takes care of the missile assaults and laser beams," Leon noted, as the missiles and laser were by far the most dangerous threats in his opinion. "In your face, Team Rocket!"

Although Team Rocket was badly shaken from the Thunderbolt that Pikachu and Rotom had tortured them and their machine with, the assault only made them even more enraged and filled their minds with a desire for vengeance after being subjected to extreme humiliation from the group.

"I'll make you eat those words!" Jessie declared angrily via some loudspeakers before unleashing an Ice Beam from the still-functional arm-mounted cannon of the robot.

"Great shot for an insane redhead!" the Ranger mocked, quickly rolling out of the way. The Ice Beam continued to fly harmlessly into the sky before dissipating at extreme ranges. "Your aim's improving, rookie!"

"Why you little…" the female Team Rocket agent hissed upon hearing the words in her mind, smashing her fist against the control panel in rage.

"Alright boys, let's do our part!" a fierce voice echoed suddenly.

The Rocket trio focused their attention at the source of the noise just in time to catch Krakatoa, Dragonite and Sceptile at the rear. Apparently, Dragonite's Hyper Beam that had caused the flamethrower turret to detonate inflicted another side effect which wasn't caught by anyone in the battle until Blade used his heightened senses to catch a fault in the machine. The Normal-based attack that Raine's Dragon/Flying-type Pokémon utilized actually managed to pierce through the armour of the Meowth mecha and while it did not damage the machine to a great extent, it revealed a small portion of the psychic-type interference beacon after the latter was pushed back from the force and blast of the Hyper Beam. Krakatoa took the chance immediately to launch a silent strike. Given their superb speed, it allowed them to reach their target with relatively little difficulty.

"They're going after the psychic jammer!" Jessie informed her teammates after noticing the three on one of the surveillance cameras. "Do something!"

"Not to worry…" Meowth snickered, placing his finger on a button. "They'll be treated to a nasty treat when I unleash an electrical shockwave pulse from the device!"

He clicked the button, chuckling diabolically, but nothing happened. A few more repeats of the same action did not show any positive results either. "Hey, what gives!?" the talking Pokémon frustratingly complained. He looked over to James, and figured out that his male colleague was diverting the entire machine's remaining power to fight the human/Typhlosion hybrid.

"Ash is mine!" James commanded, directing the robot to stomp on the transformed Pokémon Trainer. "Eat my iron boot of fury!"

"You bloody idiot!" Meowth screamed, realizing that the machine had lost so much power from the previous attacks that it was no longer capable of performing other functions at the same time. He began to choke on the thick smoke filling up the cockpit when the flamethrower turret exploded and the machine's ventilation systems failed to work. "You're going to doom us all if you push this machine to its limits!"

"Not if I can crush Ash personally! This machine's well-being is of no meaning if the mission isn't completed for starters!" the male agent cackled, directing the machine to hammer and step on Ash with the mechanical paws and feet; his actions only served to damage the machine even further.

The Scratch Cat Pokémon slapped his forehead and wondered if James was really losing it. "We're here to capture his Pokémon, not run him flat into the dirt or send him to the hospital! Jessie, control him!"

The red-haired teenager sprang into action as she attempted to pry her male partner from the control panel of the Meowth mech.

Ash saw the robot targeting him and immediately took evasive action by dropping on all fours and dodged every bludgeoning strike that came from the Team Rocket robot. When he saw a window of opportunity to flee, he quickly returned to Latias, who sided along with him. Above them were Leon and Latios, using repeated Dragon Pulses against the machine as the aquamarine-coloured spheres of radiance buffeted the machine in endless blasts and explosions of draconic energy.

"Wow, this thing is durable despite its looks. Wonder what the properties of its armor are," Leon whistled. After five consecutive Dragon Pulses from both him and Latios, the machine failed to fall even though Jimmy's assault had damaged, if not fully ruined, the robot's source of shielding and power.

Latios snorted in a humorous manner in return. "Never ever underestimate your opponents, no matter how idiotic they are."

Personal infighting broke out among the Team Rocket trio as their carefully organized plot fell into complete disarray and madness. "Give me the controls! You don't even have half a brain to operate this thing for crying out loud!" Jessie spoke aggressively as she tried to wrestle the machine's operations controls from her male colleague, who was outright obsessed with trying to shoot at the Eon Pokémon with multiple weapons. Unfortunately for them, poor aim and the damaged targeting systems only added to their woes as the pair of Latios could now easily dodge the incoming Thunderbolts, Ice Beams, Solarbeams and other weird Pokémon attacks reverse-engineered for human use. All it took for them to avoid the incoming strikes was to simply move out of the way.

"They're funny!" Latias giggled at the hilarity of the Meowth machine's terrible accuracy.

"Yeah, but I wouldn't be laughing if these three were competent enough to work together!" Leon stated firmly. "Team Rocket is no laughing joke, but… it makes me wonder who even hired these three sacks of bricks. Stay cool, everyone! Don't let your reflexes fail you and be especially careful of stray shots!"

Ash sweatdropped, not exactly sure how to add to the Ranger's comment as the trio do have their moments of brilliance at times. "It puzzles me how they even managed to live this far."

"Don't care if they're dangerous or not, but we must keep our guard up," Latios reminded the team. "Don't let your guard down!"

While Team Rocket continued to erupt in a state of infighting inside the machine, Krakatoa, Sceptile and Dragonite proceeded to smash the armour on the rear of the machine open without any resistance threatening to hinder them. A vicious Dragon Claw from Raine's pseudo-legendary Pokémon effectively ripped the armour plates apart, revealing the psychic jammer or at least that was what they thought it was—it was a gleaming red crystal emitting sinister-sounding waves. Even though the three Pokémon were not affected, they could feel their heads going through a painful reaction as they all started feeling lightheaded and dizzy.

"Let's get rid of this evil invention," Dragonite suspired tiredly. "Smash it with everything you have!"

Without any second thoughts, all three Pokémon utilized their strongest attacks: a Blast Burn from Krakatoa coupled with a Frenzy Plant from Leon's Sceptile and finally, an overpowering Dragon Pulse from Dragonite, hammered the psychic jammer and shattered the crystal into a billion shards of ruby-like fragments. Their headaches promptly dissipated as the device was rendered obsolete.

Aboard the Meowth mechanized walker, the machine suddenly lost power as the cockpit went dark. All systems, including the emergency alarm systems of notifying the crew of critical damage, had gone dead with silence. Aside from the noises of fuel dripping from broken pipes caused during the fight, there was no noise, save for the hearts of the Rocket operatives beating rather rapidly.

"What just happened?" Jessie asked just as she was about to punch her partner in the face.

James looked around in confusion, his hands still gripping the controls. "I don't know, but I think our machine just ran out of batteries!"

"You two are utter morons! This is what happens when we fight over silly matters!" Meowth roared, throwing a tantrum in the process.

Everyone on the battlefield felt that their minds were no longer under pressure from the damaging waves of the psychic jammer and knew that it was time to deal the finishing blow. The Eon siblings' eyes gave off a gleam of red-coloured hue as they forced the Team Rocket machine into the air, streams of yellow-coloured fuel dribbling from the cracked portions of its armoured structure.

The pair's gesture of lifting the Team Rocket machine into the air gave the instinct to everyone to contribute to the final offensive. Ash and Krakatoa prepared their Aura Sphere and Blast Burn respectively, the wreath of flames on the back of their necks blazing brightly as they readied their trademark moves, while Sceptile focused his mind on charging one last Energy Ball, a green-coloured ball pulsating in between his hands. Leon silently calmed his mind as he energized himself on concentrating his most powerful technique, his body crackling with energy as his eyes gave off a gleaming, lustrous glow of golden light. Pikachu, Rotom, Dragonite and Buizel each took aim and fired off a Thunderbolt, Discharge, Fire Blast, and Hydro Pump respectively. As Team Rocket continued to scratch their heads over what to do now, they did not see the attacks coming as the cameras used to show the current heads-up display of the battle were taken offline during the scuffles earlier. They had no idea what was going on until their vehicle was struck by a multitude of attacks, throwing them off balance. While none of their attacks did much damage, they greatly weakened the already heavily damaged structure of the robot.

"The twerps are attacking us! Do something!" Jessie yelled as she desperately tried to bring the Meowth mech and its weapons back online, but to no avail as the vehicle failed to respond. "This machine's armour won't hold!"

"How can we?! The machine's lacking power—they destroyed the psychic jammer which was our key source of energy!" Meowth screamed in response, smashing his paws against random buttons which elicited no response due to a lack of power.

"Why didn't you install a backup generator then? You were the one who built this hunk of junk!" an infuriated Jessie screamed, grabbing Meowth by his neck and shaking him violently.

"We didn't have enough funds… Blame James for spending it all on our lunch at the last buffet we visited!" The Normal-type Pokémon gagged.

James hung his head in shame, embarrassed at yet another failure. "I have a feeling we're about to blast off again…"

"GAH! Why does every well-planned and thought out plot always fail!? We planned this thoroughly to ensure it was perfectly foolproof!" Jessie fumed outrageously as she repeatedly slammed her fists against the control panel of the disaster-prone machine.

Her thoughts became reality as the combined force of a Blast Burn, an Aura Sphere, a fully-charged Energy Ball, and an overwhelming Luster Blast—supported by the other Pokémon's attacks—severed the machine in half and caused it to explode in a million pieces of scrap. The operatives were sent flying into the sky as a result.

"Here we go again. The smell of failure smells nowhere near as close as the pleasure of smelling lots of moolah or a big fat paycheck after racking in good mission results!" Meowth muttered, realizing they had failed their superiors yet again.

"I need a bath… and a nice warm bed to sleep in!" Jessie remarked.

"I need a good meal for once…" James added. "And a trip to the bathroom. I think I'm going to piss my pants again if I don't go to the potty soon."

An enraged Scratch Cat Pokémon had enough complaining as he demanded his other two associates to shut their traps up. "Blah blah blah, your complaints! BE QUIET ALREADY BEFORE I MAKE A MESS ON YOUR FACES!"

"And Team Rocket's blasting off again!" The three all wailed desperately in unison as they disappeared over the horizon like baseballs thrown into the distance.

Watching them disappear into the sky, Raine wondered if the clowns would ever return as she too had her own run-ins with the troublesome trio in her previous adventures just like Ash. "Think they'll show up again?"

"Most definitely," Brock answered her question. "They certainly will… I'm positive of it. They always do in some manner."

After all, the trio had been shocked by Pikachu's Thunderbolt over 200 times, mauled, brutalized and beaten viciously by Pokémon of various backgrounds, subjected to extreme heat and cold from Pokémon attacks, and countless other indescribable methods of harm, yet they still lived for some inexplicable reason. Brock was beginning to wonder if they had some type of guardian angel watching over them, because from his experiences, Ash sure did.

The moment the trio vanished over the horizon, most of the team released the tension from their shoulders and were on the verge of collapse from extreme exhaustion. That was understandable to the Pokémon Trainers since they had never fought so hard ever since their last encounter with Annie and Oakley. This was evident when most of the Pokémon that participated in the battle had little to no energy to congratulate their human allies for the successful battle.

"You earned your rest, Sceptile. Now return!" Leon held up his Poké Ball and called the Forest Pokemon back into the dual-coloured capsule.

Bianca, on the other hand, was rather amazed by her Pokémon's near-impeccable skills in terms of dodging the Team Rocket robot's attacks. "You were a spectacular aerial fighter, Pidgeotto! I'm very proud of you that you have improved so much!"

In response to her trainer's comment, the Bird Pokémon bowed her head with a delightful smile.

"I tell you, she's improved a lot since her days as a Pidgey," Krakatoa implied, catching up with his trainer as his body was marred with bruises and scars.

"You were amazing too, Krakatoa. I have to thank you for contributing so much and of course, protecting Ash so valiantly," Bianca spoke, rubbing the Volcano Pokémon's cheeks with a playful brush. "You too, Brock."

"I only wished to help my team out. Sorry I got knocked out so early…" the former Gym Leader apologized, but nevertheless gave himself a mental pat on the back for a job well done.

"Aw shucks, I only wish I could do all the much more," the talking Typhlosion added, shrugging. He looked over to Ash, who was congratulating Buizel, Pikachu, Latias and Latios alike. This made the Fire-type Pokémon smile, for it was his type of attitude that displayed a strong sense of leadership and companionship. For one thing, it was a one-of-a-kind trait that few possessed.

Raine embraced her Dragonite in a hug, with the hulking and rather pudgy Dragon Pokémon returning the compliment despite her tiredness. To her side, Rotom hovered steadily while cackling in a high-pitched voice before both Pokémon were returned into their capsules, and Blade joined her trainer with a chuckle of proudness.

"You're certainly improving, Raine. At the very least, you actually managed to work as a team with outsiders," he praised, his metal pincers crossed across his armoured chest.

"Oh Blade, come on!" the female trainer whined rather unpleasantly. "I'm always trying to improve, yet you always think I should push myself more."

"It's only natural you strive to be your best and go beyond that. Remember, your Dragonite has a grave weakness against ice but there are methods of training that can neutralize that weakness."

"I know, I know! I'm not in kindergarten or mentally-deficient!" the red-haired female yelled with a semi-furious voice.

The two continued to argue, with Brock, Bianca and Krakatoa overhearing the conversation.

"Will they ever get along?" Bianca asked.

Her hybrid companion shrugged. "Yep, maybe someday!"

Meanwhile, Ash returned Buizel into his Poké Ball before Pikachu clambered up on his shoulder tiringly. "That was a close one. I thought Team Rocket had us in the bag with their latest invention putting the three of you at such a grave and unfair disadvantage. Is everyone okay?"

Everyone nodded in response to his question.

"Don't worry about it. We'll always find a workaround, you can count on it." Leon waved his right arm in a fashion that represented not to worry about things.

Latias smiled in agreement. "As long as we work together as a team, we'll be able to overcome any challenge! Right, big brother?"

"She's right. By covering each other's weaknesses, we will be fine," Latios remarked. "Let's get going. From the looks of it, it looks like it's going to rain quite heavily." He kept his eyes on the clouds above him, noticing dark clouds gathering and the sound of thunder rumbling in the distance.

The group recalled whatever Pokémon that usually travelled in their Poké Balls and resumed their sojourn, relieved to have won the battle with little to no damage done to their team.

*If you've seen Black and White 2's female trainer design, that should give you an idea of how Latias's new disguise looks like. I thought it fits her without making her look too attractive in the wrong manners.

That's it! By far, this is one of my favorite chapters that I've written mainly because it remains true to the anime, yet it is action packed enough to be mature and such. Many things are foreshadowed already and only time will tell before the truths are revealed…

Liked this update? Please favorite, rate and review! I always love to hear feedback from my readers.

-Soldier of the Future