Author's Note: Okay, this is my first fanfiction ever

Author's Note: Okay, this is my first fanfiction ever. When I wrote it, I had only seen a few episodes of Pokemon, so please excuse any of the minor discrepancies (such as Ash catching Articuno. Yeah right!). And yes, it is a self-insertion, but not one of those ego-inflating, self-flattery stories. It's more of a satire. Another important thing to note is that I originally wrote this story for my friend Lauren, so there are some private jokes in it, but not enough to ruin the story (in my opinion).

Disclaimer: I don't own Pokemon in any way, shape, or form. Please don't sue, as I have very little money. Jess is my character and, coincidentally, she is me. Lauren is based off my friend of the same name. Please don't use them without permission.

Perils of the Pokemon World

OR

Ass Ketchum IS Satan!!

Jess slowly pulled her little green Mazda into the driveway of her friend Lauren's house. She parked the car and grabbed an unmarked videotape out of the passenger's seat, grinning evilly. One of Jess's favorite pastimes was watching bad movies or TV shows with Lauren and making fun of them. Today, Jess had brought a tape full of her favorite show, which happened to be Lauren's most hated show, thus Jess's evil grin.

She bounded up to the front door and rang the doorbell, rubbing her arms to keep herself warm in the cold winter air. She pondered the reason she was cold and had almost pinpointed it when the door opened.

"Hey Lauren! Let me in, it's freezing out here!" Jess exclaimed, stepping in.

"Why aren't you wearing a coat?" Lauren asked, staring at her shivering friend.

"Hmm… I knew I forgot something when I left."

Lauren gave Jess a strange look but decided not to comment further. Lauren was, after all, three years younger than Jess and didn't feel like getting into an argument with someone who could run you down with her car.

Jess held up her tape. "Are you ready for a six hour marathon of Pokemon?" she asked, the evil grin returning.

Lauren made a pained sound. "Why do you insist on torturing me like this?!"

Jess just laughed and proceeded to the basement where the TV was. Lauren followed reluctantly.

"So where's your aunt and Jason and that other kid?" Jess asked conversationally as she put the tape in the VCR and started to rewind it. Lauren's aunt was visiting for Christmas (and the less commercialized holiday of Kwanzaa) and was watching Lauren and her brother while her parents worked.

"She took my brother and my cousin to some little kid attraction downtown."

"Good riddance," Jess muttered. It wasn't that she hated Lauren's brother and cousin; she hated all little children. She hadn't always despised children. It all started when… well, back to the matter at hand. Jess finished rewinding the tape and turned the TV on. The sound of some sort of nature program came up, but no picture.

"Oh, you stupid TV! Work dammit!" Jess snarled, then rounded on Lauren. "Why does your TV never work?"

"You have to turn the VCR off before you turn on the TV! I told you that before," Lauren returned. "Now you have to wait for a while and try again."

"You should just buy a new one," Jess said. Soon, a conversation that had been heard many times in this basement started again. Jess trying to talk Lauren into getting a new TV, and Lauren repeating that they didn't have enough money to just go out and buy another one. The nature program narrator continued his discussion on the importance of the South African fruit fly to the balance of nature.

Just when the argument started to escalate, the picture on the TV suddenly appeared and the verbal battle was forgotten.

"All right! Start the tape, Lauren!" Jess said, and grabbed herself a good location on the couch.

Lauren and Jess watched, making sarcastic remarks and laughing at them. Lauren mostly focused her anger on the main character of the show, Ash Ketchum (whom Lauren had nicknamed "Ass Ketchum"), a ten-year-old boy out on a pokemon quest. The plot of the show was that Ash and his friends, Brock (or Chock, again according to Lauren) and Misty (or Lil' Whore, which had no basis whatsoever in Jess's opinion), were trying to catch cute little pokemon, then make them fight each other. Lauren especially hated that aspect of the show: she would get really angry and the right side of her face would freeze up.

Jess loved to watch Lauren fume at the show. But things got even more fun when the so-called "villains" showed up. Team Rocket members, Jessie and James and their pokemon Meowth, would show up and say their rhyming motto. It was now tradition for Lauren and Jess to recite it along with them. Then Team Rocket would do something stupid and get shot into the air, yelling, "Team Rocket's blasting off again!" Ash would once again be the hero of the show.

"I wish Jessie and James would do something right for once and steal Ash's Pikachu. That would make this so much more interesting," Jess commented.

"I wish Jessie and James would kill Ass!" Lauren said, causing Jess to double over with laughter.

But, six hours later, the Pokemon marathon was over (which was too soon for Jess and not soon enough for Lauren). Jess popped her tape out of the VCR and walked to the front door with Lauren.

"I guess I have to go now," Jess said sadly.

"I don't want the fun to end!" Lauren said in a half-joking manner.

Jess said goodbye and opened the door. She was immediately hit with a blast of cold air that almost knocked her back into the wall.

"Yow! It's cold out here!" She looked out into the street and realized it was snowing. There must have been a foot of snow out there! Okay, well maybe just a few inches, but Jess had a tendency to exaggerate. Anyway, there was no way she could drive through that.

"I guess I have to stay here," Jess said, more enthusiastically than she should have. "I'll go call my parents and tell them the snow's too deep to drive."

Lauren cheered and went downstairs again. Jess followed after calling home.

"So, what should we do now?" Lauren asked, then immediately regretted it. She knew exactly what Jess would say.

"Let's watch the tape again!" Jess exclaimed, already shoving the tape back in the VCR.

"You're so obsessive-compulsive," Lauren said scornfully.

"I am, but at least I can admit it. There! We're good to go."

"I'm going upstairs to get something to eat. You want something?"

"Nah, but hurry back down!" Jess responded without even turning around. Lauren retreated upstairs and Jess turned the TV on. The screen was black, but she could hear the Pokemon theme song coming out of the TV. Jess said some rather nasty words and started to fiddle with the wires protruding from the back of the box. Nothing worked. She quickly became fed up with the malfunctioning television and did what any TV repairperson might do in this situation—she hit the TV. It shook slightly from the impact and the screen immediately showed static.

Jess smiled. "There. I showed you, feeble idiot box!" She had just reverted to her habit of talking to inanimate objects and was still mocking the TV when Lauren returned with two pieces of toast sprinkled with confectioner's sugar.

"What are you doing?" she asked.

Jess whipped around, looking sheepish. "I, uh, I fixed the TV. See? It works now."

"So why were you talking to it?"

"I have my reasons!" Jess exclaimed indignantly. Just then, the abused television started to spark and fizzle. Both girls looked at it.

"What did you do?!" Lauren shouted just before beams of light shot out of the TV and engulfed them. The light grew to bright to see, then it was gone. Lauren's basement was now silent. Both girls had disappeared.

****

"Lauren? Hey, Lauren! Get up!"

Lauren felt someone kick her roughly in the side. "Ow! That hurt!"

"Get up. Something really weird just happened with your ghetto TV."

Lauren sat up slowly, feeling slightly dizzy. She opened her eyes and noticed they were outside. Now this wouldn't normally be cause for alarm, but it was fairly obvious they weren't anywhere near Lauren's house. First of all, there was no snow. In fact it appeared to be spring here. Second, they were in the middle of a forest.

"What happened?" Lauren asked, standing up.

"I told you, your ghetto TV blew up and sent us to the other side of the globe."

"Wait. How do you know that?"

"Simple. It's winter in the northern hemisphere, and the seasons are always reversed over the equator. Maybe we're in Australia. That would be cool. I mean, I've always wanted to go to Australia, but I suppose getting home might be a little complicated. I can just imagine what my parents will say when I tell them I need airfare to come home from Australia…"

"You know," Lauren interrupted, " that might be a good explanation except, IT MAKES NO SENSE!!!"

"Sooo… what are you saying exactly?" Jess asked earnestly.

"I think your brain got fried when my TV exploded," Lauren muttered. She raised her hand and prepared to knock some sense back into her friend when they heard voices coming from deeper in the forest. It sounded like several people having an argument, then a voice shouted something that sounded like "Go Charmander."

"Did you hear what I just heard?" Jess asked and wandered over in the direction of the voices. Lauren followed, trying to convince herself that she had heard "Go help the charred man there."

They both peeked through the bushes and saw something neither could believe. A small boy, maybe about ten years old, was shouting orders to a large, orange lizard with a flame on its tail. Behind the boy, another boy, who looked a little older, and a girl stood shouting encouragement. The older boy had brown, oddly spiked hair and was wearing a green vest, orange shirt, and brown pants, and the girl had a side ponytail and was wearing hot pants with red suspenders (an odd combination) and a yellow shirt. The boy with the lizard (which was actually obeying his commands) had on a red baseball cap, dark blue jacket with a black shirt underneath and was wearing jeans.

The two spectators turned their heads to look at the trio's adversaries. A boy with strange purple hair and a girl with blindingly red hair (that was, by the way, defying all laws of physics by sticking straight back from her head and curling slightly at the end) were also shouting instructions to two creatures: a really ugly meteor-type-thing with two heads and a fairly normal-by-comparison purple cobra. They were older than the others, maybe fifteen years old. They both wore white uniforms with black boots and gloves. The girl wore a skirt (which was a little higher than Jess or Lauren would have liked) and thigh-high boots. The boy just had pants and a shirt. Both shirts, though, had a large, red "R" emblazoned upon it.

"Um…" Jess started. Lauren was completely speechless. "I think we're in Pokemon World, or whatever you call this place."

Lauren started to make strange, inhuman noises. Jess was a little worried that she might have a nervous breakdown, or end up like her unfortunate television.

"Uh, Lauren? Are you okay?" Jess asked.

"This isn't possible! How could we be in Pokemon World?"

"Well, in the movie Pleasantville, those kids got zapped into a TV show, too."

"You never saw that movie!"

"True, but that's beside the point."

"Moreover, that was just a movie! This is real!"

"Is it?" Jess said cryptically, but her grin pretty much ruined the effect.

Their conversation was interrupted by the boy in the hat commanding the lizard to use its "flame thrower attack." The creature opened its mouth and shot a huge ball of flame at the two in uniforms and sent them flying through the air. The last audible thing they said sounded like "Team Rocket is blasting off again."

"Yeah! We beat them! C'mon you guys. We've got to find a way out of this forest," the boy said.

"I bet they're lost again," Jess said. "Hey, let's go talk to them, Lauren."

"No, let's not," Lauren said stubbornly. "Let's just try and figure out how to get home."

"Fine. Hmmm… Nope, can't think of anything. Now can we go?"

"Hey! You didn't even try!"

"Didn't I, Lauren? Didn't I?" With that, Jess started after the boy and his friends. Lauren sighed and followed. After all, she couldn't think of any way to escape this place either.

"Hey, you! Wait for us!" Jess called to the retreating forms. All three turned around.

"Who are you?" asked the boy in the hat.

"My name is Jess and this is my friend, Lauren. We're, uh, beginning pokemon trainers."

"What?!!" Lauren exclaimed. Jess elbowed her hard in the ribs. "I mean, of course we are."

"Oh. Well, I'm Ash, and these are my friends Brock and Misty," he said, gesturing to his two friends. Misty smiled politely, but Brock's face turned red and he ran up to shake Jess's hand.

"My name's Brock, but you can call me Studmuffin!" Jess looked disgusted.

"Ugh. I think we'll just keep it at Brock," she said and wrenched her hand away from the overly flirtatious boy. She had forgotten how Brock came on to every girl he met in the show.

Ash continued on with his conversation as if nothing strange had happened. "So what kind of pokemon do you have?"

Neither Lauren nor Jess responded. They didn't have any pokemon at all.

"We… can't… show… you… them…now," Jess said slowly, "because… they're, uh, sleeping! Yeah, that's it. We just had a battle and now our pokemon are resting."

"Yes," Lauren agreed, getting in on the act, "they fought long and hard and now they have to rest."

"Rest? I didn't know pokemon had to rest like that after a battle," Ash said with a confused look on his face.

"Yeah? That's because there's a lot you don't know about pokemon training Ass— I mean, Ash!" Lauren snapped, correcting the boy's name when Jess stomped on her foot.

"So, I take it you guys are lost in this forest?" Jess asked.

"Hey, how did you know?" Ash replied.

"Just a guess. So where are you heading?"

"To Fuchsia City to get a Soul Badge."

"What a coincidence! So are we! We could travel together," Jess said with a grin. Lauren looked like she was in pain.

All five of the pokemon trainers (well, technically, Jess and Lauren weren't, but Ash and his friends didn't know that) headed off in a random direction in hopes that they would reach Fuchsia City. Night soon fell and they built a campfire and prepared to sleep. Lauren sat quietly at the edge of the fire and fumed about spending so much time with her arch nemesis. Jess, meanwhile, attempted to fend off Brock's advances. Soon, all of them became tired and fell asleep. Then a voice whispered in the night.

"Lauren? Hey, Lauren! Get up!"

Lauren felt someone kick her roughly in the side. "Ow! That hurt!"

"Get up."

"Didn't we already do this?" Lauren said groggily.

"We have to go find some pokemon! Our story won't hold up if we don't have any."

Lauren rolled over. "Do it yourself. It was your idea, after all. You could've said we were just travelers, but nooo! You had to be a pokemon trainer!"

Jess snorted, but didn't say anything. Surprisingly, she just left Lauren alone and walked off into the woods. Lauren promptly fell back to sleep.

****

The sun rose the next morning (which is always a good thing) and woke four of the five travelers. Guess which one was still asleep.

"Lauren? Hey, Lauren! Get up!"

Lauren felt someone kick her roughly in the side. "Ow! Dammit! How many times do we have to do this?"

"This is really important! Look what I got!" Jess said excitedly. She tossed a pokeball down to Lauren, which smacked her in the face.

"Ouch!" exclaimed Lauren. "What's this?"

"Your pokemon. Here, I got you two others," Jess said, and was kind enough to hand them to Lauren.

"Huh? Jess, where did you get these pokeballs? And how were you able to catch pokemon without fighting them first?"

"Actually, it's a very interesting story. You see, I had walked a little ways into the woods and—"

"Are you guys ready to go?" Ash asked, interrupting their conversation once again. Lauren opened her mouth to say something nasty about Ash's conversational skills, but Jess stopped her.

"Yeah, we're ready," Jess said with a smile plastered on her face. She also didn't care for Ash's constant interruptions. She really wanted to tell Lauren about her little misadventure.

Ash started to lead the way, but headed in a different direction than yesterday. In fact, it seemed to Jess and Lauren they were actually going back the way they came.

"Um, Ash? I think you're going the wrong way. Shouldn't we be heading that way?" Jess asked, jerking her thumb back over her shoulder.

"No. I've got a feeling that this is the right way," he responded proudly.

"But that's the way we were going yesterday!" Lauren argued, pointing in the same direction as Jess. "You're just back-tracking now!" Then she turned to Jess and whispered, "I bet this is why they get lost so much!"

"Hey Ash! I think they're right. We were going that way and we should probably keep going in one direction," Misty chimed in.

"But… Brock, what do you think?"

"I'd follow Jess anywhere!" he said dreamily, making goo-goo eyes at the latest object of his affection.

"Geez. I hope we get to a town soon so he can fawn over Nurse Joy or Officer Jenny. Anyone but me!" Jess muttered to Lauren.

"Well, come on, Ash! We better reach Fuchsia City soon! I need a shower!" Misty complained. They all started heading in the right direction.

"Lil' Whore needs more than a shower. She needs to get a good fashion tip!" Lauren said to Jess, causing her to start laughing. Lauren put her hands in her pockets and felt the pokeballs Jess had given her and she remembered she didn't know what they were. She asked Jess about them quietly, so Ash and his friends wouldn't hear.

"So how did you get these pokemon?"

"Oh, there will be time for explanations later. I got you a Ninetails, an Ekans, and a Blastoise. I thought you'd like them," Jess said with her trademark grin.

"That's all well and good, except I don't know what a Blastoise is."

"A Blastoise is the evolved form of Squirtle, which I knew you liked."

"But I don't want an evolved form of Squirtle, I want a regular Squirtle. He's cute."

"So you'd rather have a little weenie pokemon than a big, powerful one?" Jess asked somewhat disdainfully.

"Yeah."

"Too bad. It's too late now." Lauren looked sad, but it quickly passed. "Oh," Jess reached into her back pocket and handed Lauren a slightly wrinkled piece of paper, "here's a list of your pokemon's special attacks."

"Thanks. And what did you get yourself?" Lauren asked absently, looking at her pokeballs and trying to figure out which was which.

"I got a Charizard, the evolved form of Charmander, an Aerodactyl, and a Dragonite. They're all basically dragonlike creatures."

"You have such a one-track mind," Lauren admonished.

Up ahead, Ash called out, "Hey look! It's an Articuno!" Everyone looked and saw an azure bird with long tail feathers pecking at the ground.

"Wow. It's beautiful," Jess commented.

"Not as beautiful as you!" Brock said loudly, suddenly appearing at Jess's side. Her lip curled slightly and she put her hand over his face and pushed him away.

"I wish I had an Articuno," Ash said wistfully. He continued to stare at the bird.

"So why don't you catch it?" Lauren demanded.

"Wha—What?" Ash stuttered, coming out of his trance.

"Just throw your little pokeball and grab it! It's not that hard!" Lauren said sarcastically.

"I can't just catch it. I have to battle with it first!" Ash countered.

Lauren became exasperated. "So battle it already!"

Ash paused for a moment with a confused expression on his face. Then, it dawned on him. He could battle it! He grabbed the bill of his hat and turned it backwards (which, by the way, has been known to lower your IQ by about 50 points) and grabbed a pokeball off the back of his belt. He then threw it towards the Articuno and shouted, "Go Charmander!"

"'Bout time he figured it out," Lauren muttered. Lauren, Jess, Brock, and Misty watched as Ash attempted to defeat the Articuno with his Charmander. Charmander could barely hold his own against the bird, let alone injure it. Brock pointed out that Articuno is an ice pokemon and is strong against fire types about halfway through the battle.

"Why didn't you tell him at the beginning? Maybe he wouldn't be killing his Charmander right now if you spoke up earlier!" Lauren said angrily to Brock. "God! Why is Ass so stupid?"

"I think it's because he turned his hat backwards. That'll do it every time," Jess stated as if it was a scientific fact.

The Articuno made quick work of Charmander. Ash quickly called back the flame pokemon and sent Pikachu, the electric pokemon, out instead.

"Pikachu, use your Thundershock!" Ash commanded.

"Pika!" the little rodent answered and shot two bolts of lightning out of its cheeks. Both hit the bird and caused it to fall to the ground. Ash threw his pokeball at it. The ball smacked the bird on the side (causing it more unnecessary pain, according to Lauren) and sucked it inside in a beam of red light.

"Yeah! I caught it!" cheered Ash.

"Not without damaging one of your own pokemon, Ash! You have to learn better judgement if you want to be a great pokemon trainer!" Misty said. The two started arguing again.

Lauren watched them, but didn't say anything. Jess noticed the right side of her friend's face start to freeze up. She grinned (again) and said, "He really pisses you off, huh?" It was a vast understatement.

"He doesn't just piss me off, he—" Lauren started, her voice rising. Jess silenced her quickly.

"Look. We'll ditch them when we get to whatever city we're going to. Fuchsia, I think. Hey, you know how fuchsia is kind of a pink color? All the cities here are named after colors. Let's see… there's Lavender Town, Cerulean City, Vermilion City, Fuchsia City, of course…"

"Stop talking," Lauren said bluntly. Jess stopped talking and the two walked on in silence, listening to Ash and Misty yell at each other. Brock kept turning around to look at Jess, who was starting to get really annoyed with him. Eventually, Brock smashed into a tree while he was gawking at her.

"Serves him right," Jess said.

"Hey! We made it!" Ash called out suddenly. Sure enough, there, directly in front of them, was the great Fuchsia City. At least, Lauren and Jess assumed it was Fuchsia City, for they had never seen it before. But Ash, Brock, and Misty seemed to recognize the place and ran towards the city gates. Lauren and Jess followed more slowly.

They reached the gates and were about to enter when two uniformed guards stopped them. One guard, the boy, had purple hair, and the other, the girl, had blindingly red hair that was busy defying the laws of physics. Both had slightly slanted eyes.

"Hello there, little boy," the girl started. "We're the pokemon inspectors for Fuchsia City. You must let us check your pokemon before you enter."

"Really? Why?" Ash asked.

"Because… We want to make sure you don't have any, uh, stolen pokemon, of course!" the guard explained.

"Oh, okay," Ash said and started to hand over his pokeballs. Jess sighed and grabbed his arm.

"Ash, don't those guards look a little familiar?" she asked.

"What do you mean?"

Jess sighed again. "Come on, Ash! How many people do you know with that hairstyle?" she said, gesturing to the red-haired guard, who was now starting to look a little uneasy.

"Uh… hmmm… just a second," Ash stalled, scratching his head and trying desperately to remember where he had seen that hair before.

Lauren tried to calm down by taking a deep breath, but it didn't work. "Ass, you idiot, that's Team Rocket!"

Ash looked at the two guards again, then squinted and turned his head slightly. "Are you sure?"

"Oh, come on! They're just wearing guard uniforms! No masks! They didn't even dye their hair!"

The two guards glared at Lauren for seeing through their (rather meager) disguises and ripped them off, revealing Team Rocket uniforms underneath.

"So you saw through our clever ploy! Well, no matter! Prepare for trouble!" the red-haired girl started.

"And make it double!" the purple-haired boy continued. Lauren and Jess sat on the ground and patiently waited for the two so-called villains to finish their lengthy motto.

"To protect the world from devastation!"

"To unite all peoples within our nation!" Lauren pulled out her pokemon attack list and studied it.

"To denounce the evils of truth and love!"

"To extend our reach to the stars above!"

"Jessie!"

"James!" Jess yawned.

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

"Surrender now or prepare to fight!"

A small cat-like pokemon jumped down from out of nowhere and screeched, "Meowth! Dat's right!"

"Oh, it's that dumb cat," Lauren said with an angry glint in her eye.

"Hey, it is Team Rocket! Well, get ready for a battle!" Ash said, pulling a pokeball off the back of his belt. Brock and Misty followed suit.

"Go Bulbasaur!"

"Go Geodude!"

"Go Starmie!"

Jessie and James pulled out their pokeballs and tossed them in Ash's general direction.

"Go Arbok!"

"Go Weezing!"

"I wonder if they ever get tired of saying that?" Jess pondered.

"I know I'm tired of hearing it," Lauren complained.

As the battle ensued, Jess and Lauren watched calmly. As usual, Jessie and James lost pitifully and ended up getting knocked into the air, flying through the wild blue yonder and out of sight.

"Looks like Team Rocket is blasting off agaaaaa…" the two voices trailed off.

"So much for Team Rocket," Misty said.

"All right! Now we can go to the Fuchsia City Gym and get a Soul Badge!" Ash said loudly. He always seemed to be shouting one thing or another.

"Well, good luck you guys. It is hear that our paths must part," Jess said dramatically.

"Yeah, goodbye and good riddance!" Lauren said hastily and dragged Jess down the street and out of sight.

"Weird trainers," Ash said.

"Yeah," agreed Misty.

****

"Aww, I didn't even get to say goodbye!"

"I said it for you! Now can we go home? This place is terrible!"

"Okay, I guess, but…" Jess paused.

"But what?" Lauren asked suspiciously.

"But I kinda, um, want to, uh, haveapokemonbattle," Jess said quickly and looked away.

"If you just said what I think you said…" Lauren started, her face taking on a caustic expression.

"What do you think I said?" Jess asked.

"That you wanted to have a pokemon battle."

"Hey, you have really good hearing!"

"JESS! How could you want to do that?! They're just cute little animals! You're as bad as Ass Ketchum!"

Jess started to agree when an idea struck her. As soon as she recovered from the blow, she stood up and told Lauren, "I'm older than you, so you can't boss me around!"

"What are you going to do, huh?" Lauren challenged.

Jess growled and pulled a pokeball out of her pocket. "I challenge you to a battle!"

Lauren was completely speechless. She shook her head to recover. "Well, I guess I walked right into that one."

"Heh heh. You certainly did. Now, choose your pokemon!" Jess crowed with the ever-present grin on her face.

A small voice in the back of Lauren's head told her just to refuse, but she found herself unable to turn away from a pokemon battle challenge. She guessed this world was starting to mess up her mind and reached into her pocket, pulling out the pokeball containing Blastoise.

They both stepped back a few paces and tossed their pokeballs to the ground to release the monsters inside. Nothing happened. Jess and Lauren waited a while, but the red and white balls just sat there.

"Hmmm…" Jess bent down to pick her pokeball up and studied it, looking for some sort of button that might pop it open.

Lauren picked hers up also but didn't bother trying to open it. Jess threw her ball on the ground again, but with much greater force than last time. It still refused to open. The stupid thing wouldn't even crack! She tossed it to the ground several more times without success. Then she tried stomping it with her foot. She looked at it for a moment, contemplating what to do next. She chose to jump on top of the pokeball, which turned out to be a bad idea. Now would be a good time to point out that it is very difficult to stand on something that is perfectly round. With that being said, back to the story. Jess slipped off the ball and fell backwards, landing hard on the pavement.

"Ow! My tailbone!" Lauren immediately burst out laughing. Jess stood up slowly and tried to ignore Lauren. Next, she bashed it against the wall of a building, but with the same results. Jess, not being the fastest learner, took a few steps back and hurled the pokeball through the air at the building again. It ricocheted off the wall and struck her in the face. She staggered back and lapsed into a string of swear words. Lauren found this whole act amusing and laughed harder.

"I'll get it, just hold on a second. Geez, what is this thing made of?" Jess said, trying desperately to retain some of her dignity. Eventually, she just gave up and slumped to the ground. "I don't get it. In the show, they just toss the ball out and a pokemon pops out."

"They also say 'go pokeball,' too," Lauren suggested.

Jess snapped her head up. She looked at the ball once more, shrugged, and tossed it out, mumbling, "Go pokeball."

The ball hit the ground and snapped open. A ball of red light shot out and morphed into a creature that resembled a prehistoric pterodactyl.

"Hey, cool! I guess they're voice-activated. Now, our battle can proceed… except," Jess turned to the flying reptile that was hovering in the air, "you're not the pokemon I wanted." She turned to monster and pointed the pokeball at it. "Aerodactyl, return!" A beam of red light shot out again and pulled the Aerodactyl back into the pokeball.

"Why did you throw out a pokemon you didn't want to use?" Lauren asked, attempting to sidetrack Jess from this stupid battle idea.

"It's impossible to tell these balls apart! I don't see how all the other trainers can do it," Jess answered, trying to decide which of her two remaining pokeballs had the Charizard in it.

"Maybe because this is just a retarded TV show?" Lauren said sarcastically.

Jess was mumbling something and didn't hear her. Then she selected one of the pokeballs. "Okay, I've got my guy. You ready?"

"Fine. Go pokeball," Lauren said flatly. She let the ball roll off the tips of her fingers.

"Go Charizard!" Jess commanded with a malevolent grin, tossing the ball overhand.

Both balls opened. Jess knew she had chosen the correctly when the great Charizard loomed before her. She knew eeny-meeny-miny-moe wouldn't let her down!

Lauren, however, was surprised to see Ekans, the snake, appear. She thought she had chosen Blastoise! "Wait a second, Jess…"

"Charizard, Slash attack!" The fire pokemon obeyed, bringing its claws down on the snake.

"AAAH! Ekans, do something!" Lauren cried, scanning her attack sheet for a good attack. Ekans barely managed to dodge the rending claws, then dove into the ground.

"Ah Ha Ha! Your Ekans doesn't stand a chance against the mighty Charizard!"

Lauren rolled her eyes at her friend's melodrama. Ekans sprang out of the ground and waited for a command. What it got was, "Ekans, return!" The pokemon vanished into the pokeball in Lauren's hand.

"Aww, man! You're giving up?" Jess asked forlornly.

"I don't like pitting cute little animals against each other in gruesome battles to the death!"

Jess looked bored. "Yes, I know. I am aware of your feelings towards pokemon battles. You remind me every chance you get!"

"So call your big lizard back, already."

"Okay," Jess said reluctantly. She looked around for the Charizard's pokeball. It was no where to be found.

"Well?"

"I lost the pokeball!"

"What?"

"It's gone. I guess it rolled away during the battle."

"Where?"

"Okay, that's enough words starting with 'W,' don't you think?" Jess snapped. Her Charizard just looked confused. "Well, I guess he'll be okay roaming free." The pokemon smiled and nodded. "He'll be just like Pikachu, except bigger."

"And more dangerous," Lauren added.

"Look. I'll buy another pokeball when we find a store, but until then, Charizard will be a good boy, won't you?" Jess said, scratching her pokemon under the chin.

"This is lunacy," Lauren muttered.

"Hey! There's a gym here, isn't there? Want to go win a badge?" exclaimed Jess.

"No, but I bet you do."

"It'll be fun! Come on!" Jess said, and took off down the street. The Charizard followed like a faithful dog. Lauren sighed. She had a feeling they would be staying here for a long time.

****

Jess, Lauren, and Charizard stepped into the Fuchsia City Gym. It appeared to be empty.

"Hello?" Jess called.

"Who goes there?" a voice answered from the shadows.

"I'm here to earn a badge, so could I talk to the Gym Leader?"

"I am the Gym Leader," the voice said.

"That's great, but it would be a lot nicer if we could talk face to face."

A man dressed completely in black stepped into the light. "Who are you?"

"I'm Jess. And you are?" she answered, trying to be polite.

"I am called Koga," he said mysteriously. There was a lull in the conversation.

"And silence insued," Lauren said quietly.

"So, ah, do we get to battle now?" Jess asked.

"You have not challenged me yet," Koga said.

"I wasn't aware I had to challenge you officially. Isn't it enough that I just walk in here? I mean, how many pokemon trainers come in here and don't challenge you?" Jess asked earnestly.

Koga seemed to consider this concept. "Well, all pokemon trainers who pass the threshold of this Gym challenge me, I suppose."

"Okay, now that we have established the obvious, let's get it on!" Jess said jokingly. Her humor turned out to be wasted on the Gym Leader.

"You still have not challenged me."

"Oh, for the love of—! I challenge you to a match for a badge. There. Is that good enough?" Jess said, exasperated.

"I accept your challenge. We will use two pokemon each," Koga stated and strode to the other side of the shadowy gym. Jess took her place inside a white box painted on the floor just as the lights came up.

"Go Aerodactyl!" she said as she tossed her pokeball out. Aerodactyl took to the air with a screech.

Koga tossed out his pokeball and said calmly, "Go Muk." A large, purple (and smelly) blob materialized across the battlefield.

"Gross. Oh well. Aerodactyl, Wing Attack!" Jess shouted. The pokemon dived at its opponent and beat it viciously with its wings. It suddenly shrieked and pulled away. Jess looked puzzled.

"Muk is poisonous to the touch," Koga explained, but it also sounded like he was gloating.

"Oh yeah? Well, I can beat your pile of slime without touching it," Jess called back. "Aerodactyl, use your Supersonic Power!"

Aerodactyl flew higher and opened its maw, shrieking at the Muk. The Muk seemed to become confused and started to back towards its master.

"No, Muk! Move forward!" Koga shouted at it.

"Finish it off with Hyper Beam!" Jess ordered. The Aerodactyl's eyes glowed blue, then shot two beams at the Muk.

"MUK!" the blob said pitifully and sank down into itself.

"Woohoo! I'm winning! Oh yeah! Oh yeah!" Jess cheered herself.

"Jess! Pay attention!" Lauren said and pointed to Koga. He had recalled his Muk and had thrown out another pokeball. A heavily armored armadillo-type creature emerged.

"Swift Attack, Sandslash!"

"Uh oh. Quick, Aerodactyl, Agility now!" Jess said desperately, but it was too late. The Sandslash jumped into the air and knocked Aerodactyl to the ground, striking it swiftly with its long claws.

"Jess! You're killing your pokemon! This is cruel and unusual…"

Lauren's voice faded into the background as Jess concentrated on the match. She realized she had no choice but to call her pokemon back. She held out her pokeball (this time she was careful not to let it roll away) and shouted, "Aerodactyl, return!" The red beam caught it and pulled it out of harm's way. Jess pulled out her remaining pokeball and tossed it into the arena, informing everyone, "Dragonite, I choose you!"

"Dragonite?" Koga said. "But how can you have a Dragonite?" The question was forgotten when the Dragonite came forth from the red beam.

"It's huge!" Lauren gasped.

"I didn't know it was that big!" Jess whispered. The Dragonite must have been at least thirty feet tall and took up almost the entire battlefield.

"Of course it's huge!" Koga said, responding to Lauren's comment. "It's the biggest breed of pokemon!"

"Know-it-all," Lauren grumbled.

"I'll take care of him for ya, Lauren!" Jess said, then turned back to the battle. "Dragonite, Slam it!"

"That sounds bad," Lauren said and quickly ducked down when she saw the Dragonite jump into the air.

The Dragonite landed directly on top of the Sandslash. The impact sent Jess, Lauren, Koga, and Charizard (bet you forgot about him) flying through the air and smashing into various inanimate objects.

Dragonite stood up, brushed itself off, stepped out of the crater it had created, and returned to its master's side of the arena. It looked left and right. Where was everybody?

Lauren groaned and rubbed her head. She had been knocked into the wall. She looked back and was only a little surprised to see that she had left an imprint in the wall. She also noticed everyone seemed to be missing. "Jess? Charizard? Kugo—Kago—uh, Gym Leader? She looked up at the Dragonite. It just shrugged. Then Lauren saw the Gym Leader, whatever his name was, stand up shakily on the other side of the Gym. Charizard then walked in from outside. He apparently had gotten blown through the door.

"Hey, Char, where's Jess?" Lauren asked.

"OH MY GOD!!! HELP! FOR THE LOVE OF GOD, GET ME DOWN!"

Everyone looked up and saw Jess dangling from a ceiling light.

"How did you get up there?" Lauren called up.

"CHARIZARD, GET ME DOWN!!!! AAAAAAHHHH!"

The flying pokemon stretched his wings and flapped up to rescue his master. She dropped down to his back and wrapped her arms around his neck. Charizard's eyes grew wide and he started to make gagging sounds. He beat his wings frantically and spiraled towards the ground.

"You're choking him, Jess!" Lauren shouted as Charizard continued to lose altitude. He finally managed to catch himself and make a not-so-graceful landing. Jess slid off his back and he immediately began gasping for air.

"Heh heh. Sorry about that, buddy. Heights make me a little nervous," Jess apologized.

"A little? You were about to have a heart attack!" Lauren cried.

Jess tried to look as calm as possible, despite the fact she was breathing harder than her Charizard and she was still a little shaky. "That is not the important thing right now. Koga! I think I just earned a badge." Jess turned to the Gym Trainer and noticed the gigantic crater in the arena and the Sandslash in the middle of it. "Oh, gee. I hope I didn't kill your pokemon, sir!"

Jess called Dragonite back and walked across the field. "Are you going to give me a badge, now?

Koga looked at her groggily. "Wh-Who are you?" he managed. "And who am I? I can't seem to remember… There was a crash, and then, nothing."

"Uh-oh. I think I'm going to be in trouble for this."

"Wait! I've got an idea!" Lauren said as she ran up. She stepped in front of the discombobulated Gym Leader and slapped him across the face.

He staggered back, blinked a few times, then said, "I remember! Thank you, small child."
"Hey! I'm not sma—"

"Can I get my badge now?" Jess repeated, cutting off Lauren.

"Of course, but tell me you will never again use your Dragonite's Slam Attack," he said warily.

"Well, I won't use it in another Gym match. How's that?" Jess grinned.

The Gym Leader sighed. "It will have to do." He handed her a small object. "Here is your Soul Badge. You have earned it."

Jess took it. It was a teardrop-shaped pin that shimmered with all the colors of the rainbow. "Thanks. Oooh. Hey, Lauren! Look at the colors!"

"Nice," Lauren said complacently.

They turned and started to walk out of the Gym when Koga stopped them again.

"Tell me, where did you get that Dragonite?"

"Gee, I'd love to tell you, but it's a tale best left for another day. Sorry," Jess said and walked out the door.

****

"Did you see that girl's pokemon?"

"Yes. A Dragonite and an Aerodactyl. If we stole those, the boss would give us a raise for sure!"

"Meowth! Let's get some disguises and trick her inta giving 'em ta us!"

"No. They recognized us last time, but I don't know how…"

"I wonder if her friend has valuable pokemon, too."

"We'll just have to take all their pokemon to find out!"

"Yes. When we give da boss all dose pokemon, I'll be da top cat again!"

"We better hurry, or they'll leave the city. Let's go!"

****

"You should try battling, Lauren. It's a real rush," Jess said, admiring her badge. Then, without warning, she leapt in front of her friend. Lauren almost fell backwards because of the sudden flurry of motion. "Ready?" Jess said excitedly. Then, without waiting for an answer, she spun around on the ball of her foot and shouted, "Mmmm… BADGE!"

"You are a lunatic," Lauren stated. "Now, can we please just keep going?" The two walked out of the city and started heading back to the forest. They had stopped at a store to buy a new pokeball for Charizard when Lauren had a sudden flash of inspiration. Lauren thought they might be able to get home if they went back to where they first appeared in this world.

"Still, you should try battling," Jess continued, her moment of deranged rambling having passed.

"Well, I would, except I think it's—" Lauren started.

"—Cruel and unusual punishment for cute little animals. I know. That has already been established. If I had known you'd take so much offense, I wouldn't have said it."

"I think you need a new lesson on the evils of pokemon battle. It's horrendous to make those creatures battle each other for entertainment…"

"Geez, sorry, Green Peace! I don't need a lecture!" Jess said. She opened her mouth to tell Lauren off when the sound of shouting voices interrupted. "What's that?"

Lauren made a disgusted noise. "I'll give you three guesses."

They walked towards the voices and found Ash battling another trainer with his Articuno. The other trainer was using a pokemon that looked like a bee with drills on its forearms.

"Hey, Misty, Brock! Nice to see you again," Jess said cheerfully. Lauren rolled her eyes.

"Hi! Where did you guys run off to in Fuchsia City?" Misty asked.

"We had to take our pokemon to the hospital," Jess lied.

"Hospital?" Misty raised an eyebrow.

"Uh, I mean, the Pokecenter. Yeah. We told you earlier our pokemon had just fought a tough battle, so we took them to the Pokecenter," Jess replied, trying to look as sincere as possible. Misty seemed to accept this answer and turned back to the battle, which was nearly over. Amazingly, Ash was winning. Ash's Articuno dove at the bee and knocked it to the ground. Its owner called it back and went to shake hands with his challenger.

"Good match. Your Articuno is really strong," he said.

"Yeah, I just caught it this morning," said Ash.

"I hope I can train my Beedrill to be strong enough to defeat one someday. I would love an Articuno."

"Really? Well, you could take mine. I'm sure you could train it just as well as I could," Ash said and handed his pokeball to the other trainer.

Jess saw Lauren's face seize up and tried to hold her friend back. She was too slow and Lauren stomped up to Ash.

"What do you think you're DOING?" she demanded.

Ash blinked. "I'm giving my Articuno away."

"Ash! That's why you never have any pokemon! You just give them away! What's the point of catching them if you're just going to give them away?"

As Lauren continued her angry tirade, Jess watched the other pokemon trainer sneak away. Lucky. I wish I could slip out of here, too.

"I can do whatever I want with my pokemon!" Ash said to Lauren.

"But you're doing stupid stuff with them!" Lauren returned.

"This is worse than when Misty and Ash fight," Brock said.

"Definitely," Jess agreed. "I guess I should stop this." With that, Jess walked up to Lauren and tapped her lightly on the shoulder.

"WHAT?" Lauren snarled.

"Come on, Lauren dear, it's time to take your medication," Jess said in a patronizing tone.

"But… I'm not… I don't need…EERRR!" Lauren almost seemed to go into conniptions. She turned back to Ash. "This isn't over yet, Ass!"

"Oh, yes it is," insisted Jess. Then she spoke to Ash. "She's got Turret's Syndrome. I'm sure you understand. She'll be fine, really."

"Turret's Syndrome?" he questioned.

"Yes, Turret's," Jess said to Ash. She hadn't realized until now that he didn't even come up to her shoulder.

"There's no such thing as Turret's Syndrome!" Ash exclaimed.

Jess glared down at him, using her height to intimidate him. "Are you calling me a liar?"

"No! I, uh…"

"Prepare for trouble!"

"And make it double!"

All five people turned. There stood two members of the infamous Team Rocket.

"Not them again!" Jess moaned.

"To protect the world from devastation!"

"To unite all peoples within our nation!" Jess and Lauren started to mumble the lines along with them out of force of habit.

"To denounce the evils of truth and love!"

"To extend our reach to the stars above!"

"Jessie!"

"James!"

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

"Surrender now or prepare to fight!"

"Meowth, dat's right!"

Ash, Misty, and Brock were staring at Jess and Lauren instead of Jessie and James.

"What?" Jess asked, getting defensive.

"You're members of Team Rocket?" Ash asked, protectively putting his hand over his pokeballs.

"No! Not the girl of my dreams!" Brock cried, heartbroken (at least for the moment).

"Where the hell did you get that idea?!" Lauren snapped at Ash.

"But you were saying the Team Rocket motto!" Misty pointed out.

"Huh? Oh, that was just 'cause we've heard it so much," Jess explained. "We're not with them."

Team Rocket, forgotten for the moment, got tired of waiting for their dramatic posing to be noticed and started the attack.

"Arbok!"

"Weezing!"

The cobra and the two-headed meteor (well, what would you call it?) charged the unsuspecting trainers.

"Look out!" Misty shouted. Ash and Brock sent their pokemon into the fray.

"Pikachu, I choose you!"

"Go Onix!"

Pikachu and the giant rock snake took up defensive positions in front of the small group.

"Weezing, make a smokescreen!" James ordered. The hideous pokemon obliged, covering the area with a thick fog. Everyone started coughing.

"Pidgeotto, blow this smoke away!" Ash's voice ordered. There was a flash of red light and a bird appeared, flapping its wings to blow the smoke away. It revealed a very strange scene to Ash and his friends: Lauren and Jess wrapped in Arbok's coils!

"We have what we want, little boy!" Jessie mocked.

"Today, we're not after your Pikachu," James added.

"Uh, little help here, Ash?" Jess asked, trying to free herself from her captor.

"Onix, Tackle Attack!" Brock shouted.

"NO! Not a Tackle—" Lauren cried, but it was too late. The rock snake slammed into the purple snake, taking the two girls with it. Arbok dropped them and Onix reared back, knocking Weezing out of the sky with its horn. The last thing Lauren saw was a large meteor with two heads come crashing down on them.

****

"Lauren? Hey, Lauren! Get up!"

Lauren felt someone kick her roughly in the side. "Ow! That hurt!"

"Get up."

"You know, that wasn't funny the first time. It's not gonna be funny the third time."

"Actually, this is the fourth time."

"You've kept count?! You psycho!" Lauren snapped. She sat up and quickly forgot about the pain in her side. "Ooooh, I've got a big headache."

"Advil?" Jess offered, pulling a small bottle out of her pocket.

Lauren gave Jess a strange look. "You just carry that around with you?"

"Well, I started getting headaches a lot and Advil was the only thing that worked. It's got to be the greatest over-the-counter medicine ever invented! Let me tell you—"

"I'm not in the mood for a sales hype," Lauren said, taking the bottle from her. "So where are we?" She looked around and noticed they were in some sort of prison cell.

Jess put her hand over her eyes. "We've been captured by Team Rocket. How humiliating."

Lauren looked astonished. "But how? They never do anything right!"

"Apparently they did this time. I wonder what they want with us. I don't think they'll torture us, do you? This is a kids' show, after all."

"This is embarrassing," Lauren agreed, trying to swallow the Advil dry. She couldn't quite choke it down.

"Hmmm… I wasn't even aware Team Rocket had a dungeon," Jess mused.

"Jess, I need some water to swallow these with."

"Huh? Oh, okay, just a second." She walked to the bars at the front of the cell. "Hey, James! We need some more water in here!"

Lauren was shocked to see James, the purple-haired boy from Team Rocket, actually walk over with a paper cup full of water.

"Thanks, James!" Jess said cheerfully. James just gave her a dark look.

"Why…" Lauren started.

Jess shrugged. "I have no idea. They've been really nice to us since we got here… Well, except for locking us up, that is. This is so cool!"

"Actually, I was going to ask why you're always so chipper."

"Oh. Just lucky, I guess. Heh heh." Jess grinned. Lauren rolled her eyes. She thought about their unfortunate imprisonment, and an idea came to her.

"Why don't we use our pokemon to escape?"

"Oh, so now it's okay to use them? What happened to Green Peace?" Jess replied sarcastically.

"We're not using them to kill each other, we're just using them as a means of escape. That's okay," Lauren explained, reaching into her pockets.

"You can be a real hypocrite sometimes, you know? Anyway, we can't use our pokemon 'cause they took 'em."

"Hey!" Lauren, who had only been half-listening to Jess, realized her pokeballs were gone. "Well, if they took all our pokemon, why are we still here?"

"That I cannot answer," Jess said. "Maybe you should ask James."

"I don't want to talk to him! You ask him."

"You want to know, you ask." Jess walked to the back of the cell and sat against the wall.

Lauren tried talking Jess into asking James for several more minutes, but she refused every time. Jess could be extremely stubborn when she wanted to be (or when it would most annoy Lauren). She finally gave up and walked to the bars of the cell. James was sitting in a chair holding a mirror, busy admiring his hair.

"Uh, excuse me," Lauren said.

"What?" James snapped, angered at having his hair-admiring session interrupted.

"Why are you holding us prisoner? You have our pokemon, so why not let us go?"

"I already explained it to her," James pointed to Jess, who looked like she was trying hard not to laugh. "Ask her instead."

Lauren turned around and leveled Jess with a vicious stare. Jess promptly burst out laughing.

"Ha Ha! Got ya!" she said gleefully, falling over sideways.

"You said you didn't know! You lied!"

"I never said that. I just said I couldn't tell you. Ha Ha! I made you talk to James! I made you talk to James!" she chanted.

"Sometimes you can be so immature," Lauren said icily. "So now will you tell me why we're still here?"

Jess mulled it over. "I think not."

"Come on! I really want to know! Don't make me hurt you."

Jess stood up and faced Lauren. "Go ahead and try it," she challenged.

Lauren stood there a moment longer, then backed down. "Fine. Will you please tell me why we're still here?"

"Hmm, I suppose," Jess said. "We're still here because they can't open our pokeballs, so the pokemon inside are pretty much useless."

"They can't open them? So the pokeballs will only open for us? How's that work?"

"No, yes, and it's a long story. You see, when I went to find some pokemon that night, I found—"

"Meowth! Get dem outta dere!" an obnoxious voice interrupted.

"Oh, will I ever get to finish my story?" Jess mourned. Jessie walked up and unlocked the cell. She was followed closely by James and Meowth, the pokemon leader of the group.

"Silence, prisoners!" the pokemon said imperiously.

"Why should we do anything you say?" Lauren demanded. "You're the ones who need us, not vice versa!"

"Don't talk back ta Meowth!" he yowled back.

Jess chose this instant to intercede. "You know, I really don't think you want to push Lauren any farther. She's had a rough day."

"It's not my fault I'm going crazy here! YOU are the one who got us into this! AAAAHH! I'm going to kill someone right NOW!!!" Jess swatted Lauren on the back of the head. She relaxed a little. "Thanks. I needed that."

"Hey, look on the bright side: at least Ash isn't here," Jess said optimistically.

"Good point."

"Wait," Jessie interjected. "We thought you were friends with that pest."

"Oh, of course not! We're just kind of on speaking terms with him, or, at least I am," Jess said, glancing at Lauren. "But enough about that. Can we have our pokemon back?"

Team Rocket looked at Jess like she had just asked if they could fly to the moon in a cardboard space ship. "Of course you can't!" Jessie exclaimed.

"Yeah, we stole them from you. We can't just give them back!" James chimed in.

"But you can't use them. You can't even open the pokeballs," Jess pointed out. Giving them back seemed to be the most logical course of action to her. But, then again, there didn't seem to be enough logic to go around in this world.

"We can't open dem, but you can! dat's why we let youse out!" Meowth explained.

"And what if we refuse?" Lauren asked with a sneer. This question seemed to stump Team Rocket. Apparently, didn't think Jess and Lauren would say no to their demands.

Meowth desperately tried to recover the situation. "Youse have ta do it, or else we'll never let youse go!"

"But, you already did," Jess said. More puzzled expressions from Team Rocket.

"Well, you'll never get your pokemon back!" Jessie said triumphantly.

"Fine," Lauren said.

"But, you were going to give them to us anyway. Y'know, to open them?" Jess explained when she drew more blank stares from their erstwhile foes. "And don't you think if you give the pokeballs back to us, we'll just use our pokemon against you? I bet you didn't even think of that!"

"Boy, you guys are thick!" Lauren declared.

"Hey!" objected James.

"How dare you talk that way to the illustrious Team Rocket!" Jessie said shrilly. They shoved Jess and Lauren back into the cell, locked the door, and stomped off.

"Well that certainly could've gone better," Jess muttered.

"Now we're stuck in here again! This is all your fault!"

"Hey, I was just being logical!"

"Oh, go be logical somewhere else!"

"I would, but the door's locked." They both scowled at each other, but didn't say anything. There was silence for almost five whole minutes.

"I bet they'll let us go by tomorrow," Jess said.

"How do you know?" Lauren asked skeptically.

"Because they'll figure out they can't get our pokemon and let us go. Besides, they have to go attack Ash and Pikachu on a daily basis."

"I guess so."

"Trust me," Jess said with a grin. Somehow, whenever those two words came out of Jess's mouth, Lauren always felt even more nervous.

****

"Oh, the boss is gonna kill us if we don't get those pokemon! We already promised them to him!"

"James! Calm down!"

"How can I calm down?! The boss is going to call back any minute! We're done for!"

SMACK!

"There. Now will you relax?"

Silence.

"Meowth think ya knocked him out."

"Good. That should keep him quiet. Now, what are we going to tell the boss?"

"Let's tell him dey escaped!"

"No! That would be even worse." Pause. "I guess we'll have to tell him the truth. They tricked us with riddles and tried to get their pokemon back and escape. We just had to lock them up again."

"Dat's not the truth!"

"Who cares? It's close enough."

Just then, the phone rang. Meowth pushed a button and a well-dressed figure whose face was completely obscured by shadow appeared in the monitor.

"Well? Where are the rare pokemon you captured?" the figure demanded in a strange, robotic voice.

"Dat's da problem boss," Meowth said. "We couldn't open da pokeballs beca—"

"WHAT?!! YOU CAN'T OPEN THEM?! IDIOTS!!"

"But, boss, it's because dey only open for deir owners for some reason," Meowth explained timidly.

"So, make them open the pokeballs!"

"We tried, but they started playing mind games with us and almost escaped!" Jessie said.

The man in the monitor paused. "They sound like worthy adversaries. I would like to talk to them."

"Uh, are you sure, boss?"

"OF COURSE I'M SURE!!! BRING THEM HERE IMMEDIATELY!!!"

"Right away!" Jessie said hastily and took off towards the cell. Meowth was left alone with the shadowy figure.

"Meowth," he started.

"Yes, boss?"

"What happened to James?"

****

"Okay," Jess said. She took a deep breath, preparing for the challenge Lauren had put against her. "Are you ready?"

"Go ahead. You'll never get it," Lauren gloated.

"I wouldn't be so sure. Brace yourself." Jess took another breath and started her assault. "Iamamotherpheasantplucker. Ipluckmotherpheasants. Iamthemostpleasantmotherpheasantplucker,who everpluckedamotherpheasant! Whew! Say that three times fast without messing up!"

Lauren sighed. "I can't. I know I'll say, er, the word I'm not supposed to say."

"Yea! I am the Lord and Master of Tongue Twisters!"

"Let's play a different game," Lauren suggested. "One that doesn't involve speaking quickly."

"Okay. Here's one: My husband's name is Al, and we live in Arizona, and he's an anthropologist. Now you do 'B'."

"Got it. Hmmm… My husband's name is Buford—"

"Buford?" Jess snickered.

"God! It's just a game. Anyway, we live in Boston, and he's a barber."

"Okay, 'C' for me. Let's see… Hey! That all rhymed!"

"Get up, you two!"

Lauren and Jess turned to see Jessie unlocking their cell.

"Are we getting out for good behavior?" Jess joked.

"The boss wants to talk to you," Jessie said and led them down the hall.

"Psst, Jess, let's make a break for it!" Lauren whispered.

"No. I've got an even better plan," Jess replied.

"Better than escaping?" Lauren had the same sinking feeling she'd had when Jess told her to trust her. She knew that Jess was going to do something really senseless. All that was left to do now was to start counting the seconds.

They walked down a long hall in silence until they reached their destination: the communications room. Jessie was attempting to get them in front of the monitor when Jess tripped over James's prone body.

"Ack! You killed James!" she exclaimed. No one responded. "Hey! James is dead! Deceased! Defunct! Departed!"

"That was a good alliteration, but no one cares about James," Lauren said.

"Would you like me to keep going?" Jess asked.

"WHO ARE YOU?" a voice boomed. Lauren and Jess noticed the man in the monitor for the first time. Jess stepped forward with a mischievous grin. Lauren groaned inwardly.

"I am Jessica from the world of Reality! And this is my trusty sidekick, Lauren!" she declared boldly. Jessie and Meowth gave her a strange look. The person on the monitor did not seem at all amused.

"My subordinates tell me you have valuable pokemon," the man said.

"Yes, and we'd like them back," Lauren said.

"Could you step into the light? It's difficult to talk to someone you can't make eye contact with," Jess said.

The man growled and Jess immediately shut up. "How do you open your pokeballs?"

"Oh, they're voice-activated. We found that out the hard way," Lauren explained with a sidelong glance at Jess, who frowned at the reminder.

"Open them," ordered the man. Jessie started to hand a pokeball to each girl.

"I wouldn't do that if I were you," Jess said.

"Shut up! Da boss told youse ta open dem, so do it!" Meowth directed.

Jess sighed. "Okay, but you'll be sorry. Go pokeball." The ball bounced once on the ground and opened, releasing Charizard. "Grab Meowth, Charizard."

The dragon-like pokemon obeyed, lifting the irksome feline into the air by his tail.

"FOOLS! I DIDN'T MEAN GIVE THEIR POKEMON BACK!!!" the man shouted, now quite agitated.

"Meowth! Don't hurt me! Help!" the cat yowled. Jessie, wisely, stayed out of the fray.

"Incinerate him!" Lauren urged.

Jess regarded the scene before her, watching the shadowy man out of the corner of her eye. He looked so peeved, Jess half-hoped he didn't have an aneurysm or something. Then she did something that surprised everyone: she called her pokemon back. Meowth tumbled to the floor, face-first.

"We could have gotten out of here, Jess! What are you doing?" Lauren hissed.

"It's all part of the plan," Jess replied calmly. "Watch."

The man in the monitor said nothing at first. Then, after a brief interlude, he asked, "Why did you recall your Charizard?"

"My associate and I wish to join Team Rocket," Jess said. There was a crash. Jess turned around and saw that Lauren had fainted.

The noise woke James, who sat up and looked around. "Did I miss something?"

To be continued…