Author's Note: So, yeah, I apologize if this seems anticlimactic after the last round, but I've got to put a few plot points in motion today and make sure that I cover any plot holes that might arise. Some really good action will come with the next round, I promise, but I can't just switch to everyone knocking down Team Rocket's base. I need prep first. I need to explain how they get ready, how they get there, why certain people get there first, etc. I hope you understand. Oh! Btw, I've also got some special characters to introduce you to this round! Even though their side plot seems meaningless at the moment, I hope you enjoy...

Une version française de cette histoire est disponible ici: Absolette.

Ship Warning: Pokeshipping, MangaQuestshipping, and Franticshipping.

I do not own or have any rights to any part of the Pokemon franchise whatsoever.



Round 19: The Expedition Begins



The stadium bleachers were filled with an enthusiastic audience, as people filed in and out of every row cheering, shouting, and talking to their neighbors about the most recent match. The screen above the battlefield had a countdown timer on it that had just reached the five-minute mark.

"Ladies and gentlemen," came a loud echoing voice, "we here at the Battle Frontier would like to remind you that while we thank you for your charitable donations to this rare event, we do not permit the use of flash photography or blow horns while Pokémon battles are underway. As you return to your seats, please remember to leave such items in your bags, purses, or pockets!"

"Excuse me! Pardon me! Watch your step!" came the voice of a lone teenage boy as he traveled down the isle carrying a box of nachos, a bottle of water, and a large cherry soda. Most people were headed back to their seats at this point, but traffic still seemed to be fighting him somehow.

He scanned the seat numbers on each row that he passed in a desperate attempt to find his spot. He couldn't shake the fear that someone was going to bump into him and knock the soda and/or nachos all over his outfit. The dripping greasiness of the nachos was disgusting enough when it wasn't on his shirt, and the soda… Well, actually, the cherry soda was red and his outfit was red so it was unlikely anyone would notice the difference, but it would still feel unbearable for the rest of the tournament! The teen pushed his glasses back up to his eyes before giving one more look around the bleachers.

"RUBY!" came a voice to his forward left. The voice was almost lost in the crowd, but it had just enough distinction in it for him to pinpoint its location.

A young teenage girl in a blue outfit with her brown hair partly covered by a neckerchief was just barely visible through the thick crowd. She stood as tall as she could in the seating area with her gloved hands waving frantically for the boy.

"Sapphire!" he said with a smile as he stumbled his way over to her. It took him a little while, but he was eventually able to survive the crowd and join his friend in the seat she was saving.

"How much was it?" she asked as he handed her the nachos and soda.

"Fifteen dollars."

Sapphire nearly did a spit take. "Fifteen dollars for nachos and two drinks?!"

"Well, it is a charity event…" he remarked.

"Well, you shouldn't let that be an excuse for them to rip you off!" she came back, hands on hips.

Ruby rolled his eyes in response and opened his water bottle to take a sip. "Look, I already paid for it. Just enjoy it. I got the nachos because I know you like them. Same with the soda."

Sapphire just gave a short sighed and leaned down to dig through the bag she had brought with her.

"What are you doing?" Ruby asked.

"Findin' some money t' pay you back."

"Oh!" the boy chuckled as he put his hand on her shoulder, "Don't be silly. It's all on me."

Sapphire looked back up at him with a raised eyebrow. Ruby was smiling at her. He was serious.

She smiled back. "Ooooh… I see what's goin' on!"

The boy's smile faded. "Huh? What?"

"You know when I said 'We should go on a date sometime.' I meant an actual date, right?"

"What?! What are you talking about? This is an actual date!"

"Nuh-uh!" the trainer responded with a wave of her finger, "This doesn't count."

"How the heck doesn't it count?! You love Pokémon battles!"

"Well, 1. I didn't know it was s'pposed to be a date 'til now. Both people have to know it's a date for it to be a date."

"Oh, come on…"

"2. The only reason we're at this tournament in the first place is 'cause we got to Sinnoh too late to meet our seniors in Veilstone, and now we don't know where them OR Team Rocket are."

"Well, I-"

"And 3. Emerald is with us."

"But he's actually in the tournament!" Ruby defended, "He can't count as being with us if we're up here and he's down there!"

"Nope." She refused, "He's still with us. If ya want to get me off your back about goin' on a date, then you'll have to try harder." And with that, the girl leaned back and began to sip her soda in victory.

"Uuuggghh…"Ruby sighed as he slouched over and covered his face with both hands. His feelings for Sapphire were… confusing. He really liked her. He might have even loved her, but being with her in a relationship just felt… weird. It wasn't something that the boy liked dealing with.

Sapphire sat her drink down for a moment and grabbed one of Ruby's hands with her own, instantly getting the boy's attention. "Ya know…" she began, her eyes narrowing, "Maybe we could still count it as a date if we did something really special."

Ruby did not respond. He was not quite sure what she was getting at.

Sapphire giggled, and her head began to move closer to Ruby's. She puckered her lips out. The boy froze for a moment. He didn't really know what to think, but he didn't have time to do much about it. His head almost instinctually moved closer to her's as well.

"AND WE'RE BACK!" the announcer cried, effectively destroying any moment that the two were having.

Both dex holders jumped out of place when they heard the loud voice. Ruby was literally sweating. Sapphire scowled.

"And up next we have a go-getter all the way from Hoenn!" continued the voice, "This trainer is the champion of his home region's very own Battle Frontier! Ladies and gentlemen, give a warm welcome to Emerald!"

The crowd went wild as a short boy with a long sleeved green shirt and black shorts stepped out on the field, bowing to the audience.

"Hey! That's Emerald!" Ruby pointed from his seat in an attempt to change the subject. Surprisingly, it worked.

"YEEEAAAH! GO EMERALD!" Sapphire cheered, "KICK HIS BUTT!"

The trainer bowed to his two friends from the battlefield. His big blonde hair made a sweeping motion as he leaned forward, and the jewel on his forehead glistened in the sun. Emerald rolled up his sleeves so his arms were visible, and he held a pokéball up in the air. The crowd roared. This was going to be fun.

"And his opponent!" the announcer shouted again, "From the even-farther-away region of Unova, with Pokémon as unique as his training style and as legendary as his adventures…" he paused for a moment as though he were reading something, "…And… uh… Sponsored by the BW Agency… We have Black!"

The crowd went insane again, but Emerald's eyes just widened in shock and subsequently darted to the other side of the field. "What?"

Ruby and Sapphire's eyes did the same. "What?"

Then from the dark tunnel directly across from Emerald, a brown haired trainer with a red and white baseball cap casually walked onto the grass. He sported a blue jacket and a confident smile as he stepped into the sunlight. "Emerald. Long time, no see."

For the large city that it was, Goldenrod did not have a very high crime rate. Issues popped up here and there, but ultimately, the city prison just wasn't busy very often. Today was an obvious exception. Today, the Goldenrod Prison was filling up remarkably fast due to the continuous flow of rockets that had been captured and arrested during the "Rocket Raid" (as the media was calling it). Due to the overflow of work, some common protocol had been ignored. For instance, unusually large numbers of prisoners were being assigned to single cells, different genders were not being separated properly, and even the prison security was not as tight as it normally was. Things in Goldenrod Prison were louder, rowdier, and busier than ever, but in the far left wing of the jail, if one could hear past all the screaming and shouting, you could just barely make out the sound of an old harmonica.

The noise was coming from one particular rocket agent named Butch who was lying on a bench, stomach up, in his jail cell, trying to pass some time with the instrument. His green hair was just barely covering his eyes as he slurred the tune a little bit to add some feeling to his music.

"Oh, will you just knock it off already?" came a plea from his partner, Cassidy, "You've been playing that thing for over an hour now!"

Butch picked his head up slightly and brushed his hair out of the way to look his friend in the eyes. She was glaring at him through her dark violet pupils. Her lips were bent in a small arc about her face but not a full-fledged frown. She was clearly ticked.

"I don't know what you're so upset about." He moaned, "The guy in cell #224 has been whinin' about his chatot for the past hour. You aint tryin' to shut him up."

"That's because I'm not within strangling distance of him!" she growled back.

Butch sweatdropped from that. Maybe it was a good idea to just shut up.

"I mean, seriously…" Cassidy continued, "First our battleship gets stormed by an army of cops. Then, they put us in these horrendous black and white striped outfits. And, now, I have to hear you spitting on that thing for the next twelve hours? This is cruel and unusual punishment!"

"Hey!" he shot back, "First of all, my music is majestic! But, secondly, if you'd have just stuck with the safety protocol we were given in the lecture, then maybe we could have escaped before that Stun Spore hit us!"

Cassidy let out a moan as she delicately reached for a lock of her long blonde hair. "Those spores are still in my hair!" she pouted, "Out of all eight times that I've been in prison, this has got to be the worst!"

"If I ever see an Officer Jenny again, it will be too soon." Butch concurred.

"Alright!" came a high, authoritative voice from the front of the cell, "I'm looking for Cassidy and Botch!"

Both rockets immediately lunged toward the bars of their cell to find Officer Jenny standing just out of reaching distance with a clipboard and megaphone.

"What is it, officer?" Cassidy asked hopefully, "Has our bail been paid?"

"The name's actually Butch, but if you're about to let us out of here, you can call me whatever you want!" her partner added.

Jenny did not respond, but instead she simply turned around to reveal Yellow, Gold, Crystal, Platinum, and Charon. "Are these the two you were looking for, Mr. Charon?"

The scientist stared at the two for several minutes before leaning over to Yellow slightly. "Are these the two we're looking for?" he whispered.

"I don't know." She shot back, "May just said they'd look like idiots and we'd know them when we saw them."

Charon gave them one last glance. Yeah, they looked enough like idiots for it to work. "Yes ma'am." He finally said to the officer, "I wasn't sure at first, but there is no doubt of the sheer evil in their eyes."

"Alright," Jenny replied, looking at her wristwatch, "I can give you thirty minutes with them, and I'll be right here to monitor the whole thing." She then knelt down a little bit to look Crystal in the eyes. "On a personal note, I am so sorry about what these maniacs did to your grandmother."

"I... It's fine…" Crystal murmured, bending her head down into her arms, "…I know Grammy is in a better place…"

Butch and Cassidy both stood behind bars in shock as Crystal began to cry into her shirtsleeve. Neither knew what to say, so they just watched the girl's charade unfold.

Crystal's false weeps only grew louder and more profound the more she muffled them in her arms, and Gold jumped in by patting her on the back reassuringly. "There, there, Sis. The bad people are locked away now. They won't hurt anyone anymore."

Gold's kind words were followed by mumbles of agreement and regret from the other dex holders until the two rocket agents finally caught on to what was going on.

"Wait a minute! Hold on!" Cassidy shouted, "We never killed anyone's grandmother last night!"

"Yeah! That's right!" Butch added, "In fact, I don't think we were able to kill anyo-"

"You know," Charon interrupted, looking at Officer Jenny with a completely straight face, "I only came here to make closure with these two, but all this talk about my wife has put more stress on me than I imagined. Could I trouble you to go get me a cup of coffee?"

"I'm sorry," Jenny responded, "but we are required by Police Code 7-8-249.B to listen in on all prisoner visitations. I'm afraid I can't leave you alone with them."

Platinum smiled from the back of the group. They could not have the police finding out that they were from another dimension or that the Rocket boss was from another dimension. Time to initiate phase 2 of the plan. She knocked on the wall behind her three times, prompting the Hoenn team to enter the room.

May, Drew, and Max walked right up to the group, ushered by an armored guard. They did not know if turning themselves in like this was going to be a good thing or a bad thing, but they were relying on the hope that Yellow knew what she was doing. She had made this plan.

"Excuse me, Officer." The guard interrupted, "But these three claim to be the group that started the trainer riots last night. I believe you wanted to speak with them?"

Jenny took a quick look at the kids and recognized them immediately. So did Cassidy and Butch.

"Ah, yes!" She began, "I was looking for you three! You've got a lot of-"

"Hey!" Butch shouted, "Those two brats are the same brats that screwed up our pokéball swiping plot!"

Jenny's attention was brought back around to the prisoners. "You know these children?"

"Well, speak for yourself." Cassidy insisted, "I only remember one pokéball swiping plot standing a chance anyway."

Butch was all over that. "Oh, seriously? We're gonna have this argument again? I'm tellin' ya, Jessie and I were all over that plan until the twerps showed up! It's you and James that had it all wrong!"

"Now you're just being ridiculous!" She shot back, "While I'll normally agree that James' plans are very poorly thought out, I was the brains behind that one, which made it perfect!"

They continued to argue back and forth, but Jenny quickly lost interest and turned her attention back to the Hoenn group. "So, you have had involvement with Team Rocket before, huh?"

The three exchanged glances before simply nodding their heads in unison, and, despite all expectations, a smile came across Officer Jenny's face. "Oh! That's so great to hear! You see, I was looking for you three because of what a marvelous job you did rallying that crowd yesterday, and I was hoping that I could pick your brains for any intel that you might have gathered through the whole experience! I'm required to record a full rundown of events when big city disasters like that happen! Do you mind?"

"Um… Sure." Drew offered.

"We know lots of stuff about Team Rocket!" Max added.

"But we'll have to be quick about it!" May jumped in, "We've actually got somewhere to be in a few minutes. So, if we could talk to you now, that would be great!"

Jenny looked back at the dex holders that were still standing in front of the bickering Team Rocket duo. Then, she looked at the guard that had brought the Hoenn team in. "Uh… Laurence, could you…"

"Sorry, officer," He apologized, "but I've got inmates that I've got to attend to after this. We're really overbooked today."

Jenny looked back at the dex holders one last time, and she saw the sad and innocent faces that each had, complete with a story about a murdered grandmother. Then, she looked at the room's security camera. Just a few minutes couldn't hurt, right?

"Don't leave." She ordered Charon, "I'll be right back."

And with that the officer was walking back to her office with the three Hoennites discussing Team Rocket. The dex holders were left completely alone with Cassidy and Butch.

…who were still arguing.

"You can't blame me for that!" Butch argued, "I thought they were just playing a children's card game!"

"Well, be that as it may, it still proves that you're a sissy!" Cassidy shot back.

"Should I even bring up the water tower incident?"

"Leave my mother out of this one, you-"

"Hey!" Yellow finally interrupted, "Are you two Cassidy and Biff?"

"The name's Butch, not Biff!" the man corrected.

"And you kids are full of it!" Cassidy returned, "We didn't kill your grandmother."

"We know." Yellow assured, "None of us are siblings," she pointed to Charon, "And he is not our grandfather."

"And thank goodness for that." Gold added.

"We just needed an excuse to get to visit some higher up Rocket members in prison." She continued, "Some friends of ours mentioned you. So, we thought we'd give it a shot."

"Boy, are we lucky you two were actually in here." Crystal said.

"Well, you better have a pretty good reason for bargin' in like this!" Butch complained, "'Cause unless you kids plan on payin' our bail, I don't see any reason for talkin' to you!"

"I've got one." Platinum offered.

Both rockets looked at the girl for only a moment as she stepped aside to reveal Silver standing behind her. Their mouths dropped open in shock.

"Y-y-y-you!" Cassidy tried to say.

"Is that who I think it is?" asked Butch.

"The boss' son." His partner confirmed.

The dex holders all smiled, and Gold pumped his fist in excitement. This was actually going to work!

"Hello." Silver finally said, "If you two could be so kind. I'm looking for my father."

"Your father?!" Butch asked.

"But I thought that you two had some sort of falling out?" Cassidy added.

"Times change." He assured, "I'm sure you two know about some of the stranger things that have been going on the past few days."

The rockets nodded but did not say a word.

"The point is that I am the rightful heir to the Team Rocket throne." Silver continued, "And I intend to be treated as such."

"Boy, someone's got an ego." Gold chuckled. Crystal grabbed him by the ear to shut him up.

"Look, we'd love to help you..." Cassidy began.

"But they're watchin' us." Butch pointed out, motioning to a camera, "We can't just tell ya where the nearest base is."

"Don't worry." Silver continued, "It's taken care of."

He was not bluffing. In the security room, the two guards were not paying any attention to their video screens. Instead, they both had their eyes turned in the completely opposite direction, howling and laughing at the comedy act that was happening in front of them.

Diamond and Pearl were in the room doing a stand up bit that they had tweaked from one of their favorite duos in history.

"So, Pearl, how do you get two prinplups and a torterra in the bed of your truck?" Diamond asked.

"Gee, Dia. I don't know. How?"

"You get a big wooden stick, and you poke 'em on!"

The cops busted out laughing at that one. "Oh! Oh! Do the one with Arceus and the magikarp again!" one of them asked.

"It'd be our pleasure." They answered together.

"Alright, well, look," Butch began, "we can get ya a ride to see the boss, but you'll have to get there ASAP, okay?"

"Sure." Silver confirmed with a nod, "But why?"

"He's planning something big." Cassidy said, "Something really big, and he's basically called all the troops to one spot. You'll need to catch a ride there before the group offering the ride leaves."

"Okay." Silver said again, pulling out a pen and paper, "Just tell me where I need to be, and I'll get there as fast as I can."

Back in Professor Oak's living room, Red was going over the rescue plan with Blue, Green, Gary, and Brock. He had drawn a small diagram of what they knew Giovanni's house looked like, and he had marked certain locations as possible entry points to the Team Rocket hideout. While the plan was not quite foolproof (they still had to find a way to sneak in without being detected), every two people had been divided up into a team. Gary and Blue were supposed to deal with security. Brock and Green had the job of being lookout (or, if something went wrong, distraction). And Red and Lance were the retrieval team. It was their job to retrieve Ash and Misty from wherever they were being held in the base. Each team was represented on the diagram as a drawing of two stick people. Everyone was to explore a different possible entry point.

"Wait a minute." Interrupted Gary, "Which stick figure is me again?"

"This one." Red reminded him, pointing to the stick next to the outdoor pillars.

"Wait. I thought that was mine." Brock said.

"No." Red replied with a facepalm, "You are the one in the left hallway with Green."

"But that one has my hair." He pointed out.

"Yeah, that's what I was thinking." Gary concurred, "Does my hair really look that spiky?"

"Hey!" Brock shot back, "That girls love spiky hair!"

"Oh, give me a break…" Green sighed.

"Fine." Red erased the hair of both stick figures, and redrew Brock's with a few more spikes than Gary's, "There. How's that?"

"Oh! If we're adding stuff to the pictures, then I don't think you got my hat quite right." Green commented.

Blue facepalmed this time. "Look, will you guys quit worrying about hair and hats? Lance will be here in just a few minutes, and if we aren't ready for this thing by that point-"

"DONE!" came a shout from the next room over.

Every dex holder knew what that meant, and none of them wasted time in rushing out of the living room and into the lab. They were gone so fast that Brock and Gary had barely stood up before they left.

"Professor!" Red shouted as he scrambled into the room with Blue and Green on his tail, "Does that mean what I think it means?"

Tracey and Oak turned to face the three with smiles on both of their faces. The Pokémon watcher twirled a wrench in his hand as Professor Oak patted the trading machine that sat behind him. "Yep." The old man admitted, "We fixed the machine!"

"Alright!" cheered the teens as Brock and Gary entered the room behind them.

"So, how's this thing gonna work, Gramps?" Gary asked.

"Well, I'm glad you asked." He answered as he walked to the other side of the lab and grabbed an empty pokéball from one of the shelves. He then walked back around to the machine and placed the ball in one of the pipes that emerged from the top of the mechanism. "Red, if you would be so kind as to provide us with a demonstration?"

The boy smiled and made a brisk walk over to the professor. Without a word, he took out Pika's pokéball and sat it in the machine. The Pokémon began to look around curiously from inside his orb, and he sniffed the air as he noticed the large pipe over his head. He did not know what to think of this.

"Now!" Tracey finally spoke, "Behold the power of pokéball transfer!"

He pressed a small blue button on the machine and both the empty pokéball and Pika's pokéball were sucked up into their respective tubes as lights began to flicker on and off and beeping noises began emerge from the inner workings of the device.

"PIIIKAAA!" the Pokémon cried from inside the pipe.

Red winced at that. "Are… you sure he's okay in there?"

Professor Oak rubbed the back of his neck nervously. "Well… I guess there's a good reason that we don't have see-through pokéballs in this dimension yet."

"Yeah, it might be kind of scary to see the inside of that thing." Tracey admitted.

The dex holders sweatdropped as they waited for the machine to finish processing, and, sure enough, after just a few minutes, a solid red and white pokéball dropped out of one pipe and an empty see-through pokéball from the other. The observers simply blinked a few times before doing anything.

"…Did it work?" Blue asked.

Red walked up to the trading machine and slowly grabbed the solid pokéball from its pedestal. He turned it around in his hand a few times, noting the heavier metallic feel to this dimension's capture devices and the thick coated paint that covered all sides. It was different. That was for sure.

"Well?" the professor prodded. Red looked at him with a curious head tilt, and the he only nodded in response. "Go ahead. See how it works."

Red caressed the strange orb in his right hand, slowly feeling down the curves and grooves until he came across the little white button in the middle. He took a huge breath as he gently pressed it down with his thumb, and a red beam of light shot to the floor, materializing into his pikachu!

"Pika?" it asked as it opened its eyes and looked around the room.

"ALRIGHT!" Red yelled with joy as he dove to the floor and picked his pokemon up in the air. "It worked! Pika, you're okay!"

"Pik-Pikachu! Pik!" it cheered in response.

Red twirled it around in the air with a smile on his face and warmth in his heart. The feeling reminded him of when he had first caught Pika. Well… Okay, maybe not when he first caught Pika. They didn't really like each other at first. But it at least reminded him of when he had first started his journey! The purity of that joy, happiness, and yearn for adventure filled his soul again for a few minutes as he realized that he could battle again. With no level cap to slow him down, Red was back in the game more than ever, and he could not wait to get back to training!

"Hold on." Gary interrupted, prompting the whole room to look at him. His arms were slightly crossed with his left hand below his chin in a fashion that suggested he was in deep thought. "How do we know that it worked?"

"What do you mean?" Red asked, "Pika is right here in my hands. Obviously it worked."

"No. I mean how do we know that the level cap is really gone?" he tried again, walking over to Red and his pikachu, "I mean, yeah, Pika was transferred properly, and that's great, but how do we know that the level cap is really gone?"

Red looked up at his Pokémon from where he was holding him. "Uh… I'm… not sure."

Everyone else in the room sighed.

"Well… the data says it should work." Professor Oak explained.

"But in the end, that doesn't account for everything…" Blue added.

Gary let a huge smile grow on his face as he pulled out one of his own pokéballs. "I know how we can find out." A gleam shone in Red's eyes as he sat Pika back down on the floor and stood up himself. Gary tossed the pokéball in the air. "Blastoise! I choose you!"

"BLASTOOOISE!" the Pokémon roared triumphantly as it dropped to the floor.

"Wait." Professor Oak began, "I'm not sure that this is such a good-"

"I think it's time for a little experiment!" Gary continued, "Red, I'll use my blastoise to attack Pika, and you can-"

"PIKA, VOLT TACKLE!" the trainer announced, causing his Pokémon to shoot forward at an incredible speed.

Papers, data, and reports flew all over the room as Pika's static shock began to shoot off everywhere. The electric mouse rammed into Blastoise with a blinding flash of light, and a large crash resonated with the attack, causing everyone in the room to fall to the ground.

"WOOOAHH!" screamed Red as he was pushed back by the aftershock. He fell to the ground as well, his hat drooping over the side of his head so he could not see, and everything stayed that way.

Nobody spoke or moved for several minutes, and silence engulfed the room, but as the dust settled and Red pushed his hat back to the top of his head, everyone could see Pika standing atop a fainted blastoise with a smile on his face.

"Pi-Pikachu!" He commented with a grin.

"Yep." Red confirmed, "It definitely works."

"Ooooh… My lab!" Professor Oak moaned as he stood up from where he had fallen, "Look at all of these papers you've incinerated! It will take me months to fix all of this!"

"Never mind that!" Blue jumped in, "I want my Pokémon to go in that machine next!"

"Wait your turn!" Green ordered, "I want a go!"

Tracey knelt down to look at the machine again. It had a few burn marks on it, but it appeared to be fine for the most part. "Huh, you guys are lucky that this thing is still running at all."

"Well, let's not risk that again." Brock said, "Red, after you transfer all of your Pokémon, it might be a good idea to practice outside."

Pika jumped up on Red's shoulder as the boy pumped his fist in the air. "Alright!" he cheered, "I'm ready to get back into the swing of things! Brock, will you and Gary give us a battle when we're done in here?"

"I'd be more than happy to." The former gym leader chuckled, "If I'm not strong enough for you, then I'm sure that some of Ash's Pokémon around the ranch would be more than excited to join in!"

"Yeah!" Gary added, "And, as a matter of fact, I have a haunter out there that can produce illusions! I can have it create the entire Team Rocket scenario for us so that we can practice infiltrating their hideout before Lance shows up!"

"Awesome!" Red cheered, "Sounds like a plan!"

But little did Red know that he was waaayy off target by planning to infiltrate the Viridian City base. There were only two people who knew exactly were Team Rocket was at the moment, and they were both shooting through the sky as fast as they could on the back of a latios.

"Okay!" Tobias shouted over the wind in his face, "Let's go over it one more time to make sure that we've got everything!"

"Right!" Ash called back, "Once we get to Ilex Forest, I'm going to need you to create a distraction at the front of the base, preferably with a Pokémon that isn't Darkrai!"


"You need to make it look like you are trying to break in! Since we don't have enough information to properly disarm security, I need their focus to be on you while I try to sneak into the base!"

"Do you have anything specific that you need me to do while attacking?" Tobias asked.

"Not really!" The trainer replied, "Just cause enough chaos to get as many troops out there as possible, and don't get caught!"

"Fair enough!"

"I'll work my way around to the prison chamber as quickly and quietly as I can! Remember, we want it to look like your attack on the base is completely unrelated to Misty's capture!"

Tobias nodded to that one. He had to be quiet about his intentions, otherwise they might kill Misty. Perhaps he would create some sort of a cover story to yell at the rockets while he was launching his assault. He might scream something about his family dying in the Goldenrod attack or his Pokémon being stolen by them years ago. He could think of something.

"Now, the biggest issue is Mewtwo!" Ash reminded him.

"Ah, yes! The Super Pokémon!"

"Right! It's a psychic type!" Ash continued, "Meaning that no matter how good my sneaking skills are, it will definitely be able to sense that I'm in the building… Provided that Giovanni has it out of its pokéball…"

"Do you think he will?" Tobias asked.

Ash wasn't sure. He thought about it for a moment, and while he could easily picture a dark Giovanni sitting on some kind of throne with Mewtwo on at his right hand like a puppet, he wasn't sure how accurate this picture was. He really did view this disgusting jerk as an evil puppet master of a tyrant, but Ash knew that it was more than likely his imagination running away with him when he thought of such a horror movie scene. No matter how evil someone may be, people keep Pokémon in their pokéballs, right?

Ash looked up at his shoulder to find Pikachu staring off into the distance with a determined scowl on his face. Okay, well, most people keep Pokémon in their pokéballs.

"Ash?" Tobias checked back. It had been some time since he asked his question.

"Oh!" Ash shook his head to clear all of his thoughts, "I… I don't know. I don't know how Giovanni treats his Pokémon!"

Tobias nodded again. "Fair enough."

"But remember, your main goal is to cause enough chaos to distract him anyway!" Ash reminded him, "I'm not sure how cocky Giovanni will get now that he has Mewtwo, but if you can get him to send Mewtwo after you, then that fixes everything!"

"Agreed!" Tobias said, "If he sends that thing after me, then I immediately switch to Darkrai!"


Tobias paused for a moment. All either trainer could hear was the wind whisking by them as they flew above the treetops. Things were really about to get ugly. Tobias was legitimately afraid of this thing they were going after. That did not happen often. He was used to tackling legendaries by now. "How powerful is Mewtwo exactly?"

Ash shuttered. He remembered his first encounter with the creature. Mewtwo was legitimately able to knock any Pokémon out in seconds. Nothing but his natural counterpart was capable of harming him. He even created a storm that would have destroyed the world if no one stopped him. Ash gulped a little bit. "Powerful! He is very powerful! The only reason that I think you even stand a chance of stopping him is because of your darkrai! Dark types are not affected by psychic attacks, and when you take away psychic attacks, you take away most of Mewtwo's arsonal!"

"Do you think even the G-Men will be able to take it down?" the older trainer continued, "I mean, if it is as strong as you say, then it sounds like the only reason we are still alive now is because it hasn't decided to kill us yet!"

Ash took a long breath. "Can… Can we just not talk about this right now? The more I think about me letting Mewtwo go with Giovanni, the more I feel like I might have doomed the entire multiverse!"

Tobias shrugged. "I'm just saying if we are given a chance to take it down when we get there, we should!"

Ash nodded slowly. "Yeah… No argument with that! But we save Misty first!"

Lance was also in the sky, still riding his dragonite toward Pallet Town. He had considered using one of his counterpart's Pokémon to fly there, seeing as how they were typically faster, but he felt as though he needed a moment to rest his mind. Literally every time that he used Giratina, he had to brainwash the sucker, and it was only getting more and more feisty as time went on. It was getting exhausting.

The dragon tamer reflected mainly on his plan for the time being and how perfect it was. First, he would meet up with the dex holders and other various chumps, pretending to be ready to help them stop Team Rocket and save their friends. Then, after the "plan" was put into action, he would wait for an opportunity to snatch Mewtwo's pokéball from Giovanni. Under normal circumstances, this would be quite a hard thing to pull off, but with the dex holders helping him and providing quite a powerful distraction, everything should be a piece of cake. With Mewtwo at his side, Lance could take control of the Rocket base in no time flat and use the technology, Pokémon, and endless psychic energy to finally rid the world of anyone who dared to treat nature like scum! He could even use the dimensional transporter to expand his justice throughout the multiverse and create a perfect utopia for all forms of life!

Lance smiled at the thought. It was a good thing he had read the files on this plan. Team Rocket and the dex holders would do all the work for him, and the entire multiverse would be drug kicking and screaming into a better reality.

A light jingle interrupted the dragon tamer's thoughts. He looked down at the backpack that was sitting in his lap. It was the backpack that he had taken from his counterpart earlier, and the jingle was doubtlessly the pokégear ringing. He had used it earlier when Red called, so he knew what it sounded like. Against his better judgment, he took the small device out and flipped it open.

"Agent 39!" came a strange, distorted voice, "Do you read me?"

"Um… uh… Loud and clear… sir?" he tried, "How may I help you?"

"This is your dispatch officer, 39, where are you?"

"I… um… I'm feeling ill…" Lance continued, "Why?"

"Ill? But, sir, you were the intel that provided us with today's assignment." The voice continued.

"Assignment? Well, push it to tomorrow?"

There was silence on the other end.


"39, are you okay?"

"Of… Of course I'm okay!" Lance continued to lie, "I mean… well… I'm sick today, but aside from that, I'm okay."

"Sir, I'm talking about the raid on the Team Rocket base? The raid that is happening in minutes?"

"MINUTES?!" Lance cried, "No, no, no! It can't be in minutes!"

"Yes sir." The voice continued, "Our troops were dispatched quite a while ago. You did get a message about the time, right?"

"I- I- I have to go!" Lance shouted, as he hung up the phone. He was just about to be over Pallet Town. He had to put his plan in motion NOW before the G-Men got to the base!

"Alright! Simulation over!" Red announced, as his hard, metallic surroundings faded and became Professor Oak's ranch again.

Blue, Green, Gary, and Brock stood along side the young champion as he returned Vee and Saur to their new pokéballs again. The trainers had taken the advice of Gary earlier and had been using the researcher's haunter to create the illusion of the Team Rocket base for them. They were not sure how accurate it really was, but it was still comforting to have something to practice with. Everyone was getting used to their roles in infiltrating the base, and they had not failed yet.

"Nice job, Haunter!" Gary praised, as he walked over to his ghost Pokémon and patted it on the head.

"Haunter! Haunter!" it joyfully screamed.

"Oh, that reminds me!" Brock said, snapping his fingers, "I think Agatha is still at my house. I asked Forrest to call me when she left!"

"Brock, your pokégear has been off since the battle at Goldenrod." Green reminded him, "Remember? You decided to turn it off to prevent battery loss since you didn't get to charge it all night."

"Oh, that's right!" he chuckled, pulling the phone out of his pocket and pressing the 'power' button, "My bad!"

"Hey, kids!" came a shout from seemingly nowhere.

The dex holders looked around for a few minutes to see what was going on. No one was in the ranch but them.

"Up here!" it came again, and, sure enough, Lance was hovering just above them on his dragonite.

"Lance!" Red cheered, "You're finally here! Guess what? The professor and Tracey-"

"Yeah, I don't have time for it!" he hissed, "We have got to get to the Rocket base right now!"

"Right now?" Green echoed, "I know we have to be quick, but why the rush?"

"Yeah," Blue agreed, "We could at least get one more training session done with you in it."

"No! No! NO!" Lance argued, "Get your flying types out now! The G-Men are about-"

"Hey, everybody!" Brock interrupted, his pokégear close to his face, "…You guys have got to hear this message I just got."

More AN: Okay, I'm glad I got that out of the way! Anyone ready for the next round? I know I am! Things are about to really heat up! Trust me on this one. I sure hope I didn't bore you this time around. Next time, get ready for some action and build up. Reviews are always appreciated. I desperately want to hear what you guys think of my story and my writing style. I also love to hear speculation about future rounds, but you guys probably already know all of this. I'll see you in two weeks!