"Lauren

"Lauren? Hey Lauren! Get up!"

"I swear, if you kick me one more time, I'm going to run you through with a spoon!"

Jess lowered her foot back to the ground. "Boy, you sure have gotten violent since we got here."

"That's 'cause I hate this place!" Lauren declared. "On a different note, I just had the most terrible dream. You signed us up for Team Rocket…" Lauren's voice trailed off when she saw Jess's expression. "Oh my God. You didn't!"

"I did! As of today, we're Rocketeers!"

"AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHH! Why are you doing this to me?!"

"Doing what?"

"You're killing me slowly and painfully!"

"Oh, I am not!" Jess opposed.

"I'm dying! I'm dying!"

"You wouldn't be if you would just loosen up a little. Enjoy our time here. Have fun. This is going to be so cool!"

"How? How could this be cool at all?"

"We get to go after Ash! That's a plus, isn't it?" Jess said, forever the optimist.

"I guess so," Lauren agreed grudgingly.

"But first, we have to get some basic training."

"That shouldn't be too bad," Lauren said, feeling a little better. Then she noticed Jess was avoiding her gaze. "Wait. What aren't you telling me?"

"Well…" Jess began to say, but burst out laughing instead. Lauren had that sinking feeling again as Jess collapsed once more in a fit of laughter. She gasped for air as tears streamed down her cheeks and managed to choke out, "You… have to be…"

"What? What?!"

"Ja—Ja—Bwahahaha!"

"Tell me!"

"I'm—I'm trying!" Jess said, finally calming herself down. She took a deep breath. "You have to be… JAMES'S APPRENTICE!!!"

"NNNNOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!" Lauren screamed, falling to her knees. "God! Kill me now! I beg you!"

"I think you'd look good with purple hair!" Jess mocked. "And you've perfected his speech pattern."

"I'm going to KILL you!" Lauren snarled and charged at her friend. Jess put out her hand and held Lauren back.

"For once, I wasn't the one who arranged this unfortunate turn of events," Jess stated. "You'll have to yell at the Monitor Man."

"Could this get any more hellish?" Lauren moaned.

"I'm sure they'll think of something," Jess remarked. "Come on. We have to get our uniforms."

"No! I refuse to wear one of those uniforms. They're stupid."

"Now you're just being stubborn."

"Do you suppose there's a reason?"

Jess grinned at her friend's sarcasm and led the way to a different room. Jessie and James were waiting for them.

"So glad you could make it!" Jessie said cheerfully. "Is Lauren okay?"

"Yeah. How about James?" Jess asked.

"He's as normal as he'll ever get," Jessie said with less enthusiasm.

"Hey!"

"Here are your uniforms! Wear them with pride!" she continued, handing Jess and Lauren two outfits identical to hers. Lauren's eyes nearly popped out of her skull at the length (or lack thereof) of the skirt. Jess had almost the same reaction.

"It just got more hellish," Lauren groaned.

"I am NOT wearing this," Jess stated.

"But you have to! It's the dress code!" Jessie argued.

"All the female members of Team Rocket have to wear this? I find that a little hard to believe," Jess said.

"Why?"

"Oh, please, Jessie. Wearing the same outfit as another girl is one of the biggest fashion faux pas you can commit!" Jess responded. She was trying to get out of wearing the miniature dress by appealing to Jessie's fashion-conscious side.

Lauren caught on quickly. "Yeah. I mean, you look the best in the outfit so you should be the only one in it. We could get some other version of the Team Rocket uniform."

Jessie considered this. "You're right! It would make us look like we didn't know anything about fashion! James, could you imagine Team Rocket without our fashion awareness?"

James shook his head. "That would be terrible!"

"Quick! Find some alternate uniforms!" James ran out of the room just as Meowth entered.

"What's taking so long?" he asked impatiently.

"Oh, we almost had a fashion emergency, but it's been prevented thanks to the quick thinking of our newest member, Jess!" explained Jessie.

"What! We gotta schedule ta keep! We have ta try and steal dat Pikachu at four!"

"I didn't know they actually scheduled those attacks," Jess whispered to Lauren.

"Beauty before duty, Meowth," Jessie retorted. "Besides, we've still got plenty of time."

"I found some more!" James said triumphantly, running back in with several white uniforms.

"Good! You two find something to wear. We have to go pinpoint that Pikachu's location." Team Rocket strode out, leaving Jess and Lauren with a pile of clothing. Jess began sorting through them, but Lauren hung back.

"Here Lauren," Jess said, tossing her a long-sleeved shirt and pants.

"You know, I really don't want—"

"I don't care," Jess said before Lauren could finish, also pulling a shirt and pants out of the pile for herself. "Just change."

Lauren sighed forlornly and went to don her new uniform.

***

"There it is!" James said, pointing to a flashing dot on the map.

"Better get da hot-air balloon ready," said Meowth.

"Hello in there!" a voice called. All three turned and saw the new recruits standing in the doorway. The younger one was wearing a uniform similar to James's (much to her chagrin), except her sleeves came past the end of her gloves. The older girl was wearing a long T-shirt with gloves coming past her elbows, like Jessie's. Her pants were a little too long and bunched up at the ankle. The design was reminiscent of the clothing she had been wearing before.

"We're ready for our training," Lauren said, less ecstatic than her friend.

"No time for dat now! We have ta go after dat Pikachu!" Meowth said. Lauren immediately brightened.

"Yes! I don't have to be James's apprentice!" she said to herself. This was her first break since she got here!

Jess looked at the map and noted the blinking dot (there was also a "you are here" arrow pointing at a lighthouse). "So that's how they always catch up with Ash after they get blown away."

"Come on, you two. The hot-air balloon is waiting," Jessie said. They all dashed outside.

"A hot-air balloon ride could be fun," Lauren remarked.

"Yeah! I can't wait!" said Jess. "It's going to be cool!"

****

"Oh God! This is not cool! I wanna get off!" Jess exclaimed, standing as close to the middle of the rickety basket as she could. "This thing's gonna break any moment! And look how high we are!" The basket swung precariously from the bottom of a balloon shaped like Meowth's head.

"Well, usually, this basket just holds me, Jessie, and Meowth, but it should be okay," James said confidently.

"What's wrong with her?" Jessie asked Lauren.

"She hates heights. You should've seen what happened at—"

"That's enough of that, Lauren!" Jess snapped.

"You know," Lauren said, an evil smile spreading across her face, "if it does break, it'll rip open in the middle."

"OH GOD!" Jess screamed, and lunged for the side. She made the mistake of looking over the edge and saw the ground far below. "AAAH! Wh-Why couldn't we just have driven a car?!"

"We can't drive! We're only fifteen!" Jessie and James said together.

"I'm SEVENTEEN!! You could have asked me!" Jess reached into her pocket and pulled out her wallet. She opened it and pulled out a small, laminated card: her driver's license. "See?!"

"Hey, we could have driven!" Jessie exclaimed. "Finally, no more flying around in this stupid balloon. Honestly, what kind of bad guy travels around in a hot-air balloon?"

"Hey! Dis is da best means of travel!" Meowth said.

"You only like it because your face is on it!" James retorted. The three original Team Rocket members lapsed into another argument. When Jessie and James seemed about to win the controversy, Meowth raked his claws down their faces.

"Ow!"

"Oooh!"

"Stop complaining and keep watch for dat Pikachu!"

Part of Jess's mind (the more conniving part) made a mental note on how Jessie and James seemed to despise Meowth. The rest of her mind was completely paralyzed from fear. She prayed someone would find Pikachu quickly.

"Hey! I think I see them!" Lauren said, pointing over the edge. Then, she smirked. "Jess, why don't you look down there and check?"

"Lauren," Jess said through gritted teeth, "if you keep this up, I'm going to rip your heart out and nail it to the wall."

"Whoa, Jess is a little over the edge," Lauren mocked, but kept her distance anyway.

"Dere dey are! Quick, let's descend!" Meowth said. Jessie pulled a string on the hot-air balloon, releasing some of the hot air and lowering the balloon until it reached the ground. They landed next to a small dirt road. Jess leapt out first.

"Ah, wonderful, sweet, low ground!"

"Shh! We have ta surprise dem!" Meowth chided.

Jess glared at the cat pokemon, but didn't say anything.

"We'll dig a hole ta trap dem in," the cat directed.

"But you've tried that before," Jess pointed out. "The first time, you fell in it 'cause you couldn't remember where it was and the second time everyone fell in and that Primeape attacked you."

"How did ya know dat?" Meowth asked.

"Because I watch this sho—I mean, I just do, okay?"

"Too late to worry about that now! Look, here they come!" Jessie said, pointing down the road. Sure enough, Ash, Misty, Brock, and Pikachu were headed straight for them. They ducked into a ditch beside the road. Just as Ash reached the ditch, Team Rocket jumped out.

"Prepare for trouble!"

"And make it double!"

"Shouldn't that be quadruple? There are four of us now," Jess stated.

"Shhh!" Lauren cut her off. Jess shrugged and started reciting the Team Rocket motto along with Jessie.

"To protect the world from devastation!"

"To unite all peoples within our nation!" James and Lauren said simultaneously, although Lauren was much less enthusiastic.

"To denounce the evils of truth and love!"

"To extend our reach to the stars above!"

"Jessie!"

"Jess!"

"James!"

"Lauren."

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

"Surrender now or prepare to fight!"

"Meowth, dat's right!"

Ash actually looked surprised that Team Rocket was attacking him again.

"Hey! Who are you?" Misty asked Jess and Lauren.

"You don't recognize us?" Lauren replied skeptically.

"Of course not. We're wearing different clothes," Jess attempted to clarify. "It's just like when Jessie and James wear those pitiful disguises."

"Hey! Whose side are ya on?" Meowth said indignantly.

"Well, it's true!"

"It's time for a battle!" Ash broke in suddenly.

Jess sneered at Ash for his constant interruptions. "Don't you ever shut up?"

"Meowth! Get 'em!" the feline pokemon cried.

"Arbok!"

"Weezing!"

"Go Aerodactyl!"

"Go Ninetails."

A snake, an ugly two-headed rock, a pterosaur, and a nine-tailed fox appeared on the villains' side.

"Oh yeah?" Ash challenged. "Squirtle, Charmander, Bulbasaur, I choose you!" Three cute (and weak) pokemon stood opposite them. Brock tossed out his pokeball and Onix joined the fight.

"Why don't you just give up your Pikachu now and save yourself the fight, boy?" Jessie jeered.

"You don't stand a chance against our pokemon!" Jess said, thoroughly enjoying herself.

"We've defeated you before, and we can do it again!"

"You've defeated them," Jess said, indicating Jessie and James, "but not us! Aerodactyl, Wing Attack!" The pokemon dived, and knocked Squirtle back ten feet with its wing.

"Squirtle!" Ash cried, picking up his pokemon. "Are you okay?"

"Squirtle, squirt," it answered.

"Err! Charmander, Flame Thrower Attack!" The small lizard opened its mouth and blew a column of fire at its rivals.

"Arbok, go underground!"

"Weezing, dodge!"

"Aerodactyl, use your Agility!"

The three pokemon avoided the flame. Ninetails waited patiently for Lauren's command.

"Lauren!" Jess said. "Start fighting!"

"But this is cru—"

"Now is not the time!"

"Oh, fine. Ninetails, Tail Whip, uh, Bulbasaur! Yeah. I always hated that guy the most."

Ninetails jumped up and swatted Bulbasaur with every single one of its nine tails. The pokemon was knocked out of the battle.

"Quick! Grab dat Pikachu!" Meowth demanded.

"But the battle's not over!" Jessie argued.

"Who cares? Let's just get what we came for and get outta here!"

"Fine," Jessie said angrily. "Lauren, go get Pikachu!"

Lauren shrugged. It was better than fighting, she supposed. Although it had been fun beating up that jerky Bulbasaur.

She started towards Ash and Pikachu when he yelled, "Pikachu, Thundershock!" Lauren had just enough time to jump out of the way. Pikachu shot two bolts of lighting out of its cheeks and at the remainder of Team Rocket, including Jess. She looked up in time to see the bolts heading their way. She calmly sidestepped and the bolts hit Jessie, James, and Meowth. As soon as the electricity wore off, they fell over, all their hair standing straight up.

"From what I understand, electric shocks can kill brain cells," Jess said.

"Shut up," Meowth managed to retort. This only served to make Jess angry.

"Don't tell me to shut up, you little—"

"Onix, ram them!" Brock shouted.

"Oh no, not again!" Lauren said, but there was nothing that could stop the oncoming doom. The gigantic pokemon collided with them, sending Team Rocket and their pokemon soaring into the sky.

"Looks like Team Rocket's blasting off again!" came echoing back as they flew farther and farther away until they were just a twinkle in the sky.

"Yeah! We beat them!" Ash cheered.

"But I can't help thinking those two new members of Team Rocket looked familiar," Brock said.

"Really? They didn't look like anyone I know."

****

"Jurassic Park was a great movie, what with being the first movie to use a substantial amount of computer generated characters, but you know what was really cool about it? It introduced a new kind of dinosaur to the public. Now 'velociraptor' is just as common a dinosaur as, say, tyrannosaurus. Fascinating, isn't it?"

"Jess, that was an absolutely useless piece of trivia," Lauren said.

"But that's the best kind!"

Lauren rolled her eyes.

Jess switched subjects rapidly. "So, about when do you guys normally land?" she asked the original members of Team Rocket.

"It depends how hard we get hit. I'd say we've only got a little more time left before we come crashing to the ground," James responded. They had been sailing through the air for a little over a half an hour. At first, Jess had almost had another, uh, problem, shall we say, about how high they were off the ground, but eventually that got old and she relaxed. Jessie and James kept themselves busy fixing their hair after their encounter with Pikachu. Lauren just watched the scenery fly by below them and half-listened to Jess's incessant flow of useless trivia. All four had recalled their pokemon.

"So, you've never hit a low-flying aircraft or anything like that?" Jess asked.

"No, amazingly. With our luck, you'd think we'd hit one every time."

"Hey, why are you guys called Team Rocket? As far as I know, you've never used a rocket or anything that could be mistaken for a rocket."

"Oh, but our motto sounds so much better when we say 'blast off at the speed of light.' We couldn't say that if we weren't Team Rocket."

"And we couldn't say 'Team Rocket is blasting off again' every time we lose, either," Jessie pointed out.

"I bet you get tired of saying that all the time," Jess commented.

"Yeah, we do seem to say that more often than we should," Jessie agreed.

A smile spread across Jess's face. "What would you give to win once in a while?"

"Anything!"

"I bet I could get that Pikachu!"

Lauren looked up at that. "Why do you want that Pikachu, anyway?"

"Because," Meowth started, "dat Pikachu's powers exceed its evolutionary level. It must be da strongest Pikachu in da world, making it extremely rare, and Team Rocket only steals rare pokemon!"

"Geez, I didn't want a lecture!" Lauren said. "But why don't go after other rare pokemon. Pikachu seems a little hard to get."

Jessie and James looked enlightened.

"Yeah, Meowth," Jessie said, "why don't we try to get some other rare pokemon? Imagine all the ones we've missed because we were just going after Pikachu?"

"I said we have ta get dat Pikachu, and we won't rest until we've got it!" Meowth said indignantly.

"Well that's stupid," Jess muttered, then said louder, "I think we should go after some rare pokemon, like, on the other side of the globe. That way, Ash and his entourage won't interfere."

"I'm da top cat, so you have ta do what I say!" Meowth proclaimed.

"Just be glad I can't get over to you, you little furball!" Jess threatened.

"Uh, I hate to stop this conflict prematurely, but the ground is rushing up awfully fast," Lauren said. Sure enough, the arc of their flight was bringing them back to the ground.

"Oh, damn," Jess swore. She reached into her pockets and pulled out her pokeballs. "Aerodactyl, Charizard, Dragonite, help us out here!" The three winged pokemon materialized in midair. Aerodactyl grabbed Lauren by the shoulders, Charizard caught Jess (but didn't let her ride on his back again. He remembered last time), and Dragonite seized Jessie and James. No one tried to catch Meowth, which may (or may not, heh heh) have been an accident. They all landed softly on the ground (except for Meowth, who plowed into the ground, leaving a trench several feet long).

"Ah, it's nice to land safely for once," Jessie said.

"Speak for yerself," Meowth muttered, pulling himself out of the ground. "Anyway, quit dawdling and start getting ready ta catch dat Pikachu again!"

"Actually, you've never caught it before, so you can't catch it again," Jess stated.

"Shut up!" Meowth snarled and slashed at Jess's face with his claws. She managed to dodge just in time.

"That's IT! I've had it with you!" Jess snapped. "You come up with all these dumb schemes to catch Pikachu, which never work! Remember Salon Roque? That would have worked until you ruined everything! You could be going after much rarer, more valuable pokemon! I am officially relieving you of your duties, you feline failure!"

"What?! Ya can't do dat! I'm da top cat!"

"Not anymore," Jess said coldly. "I'm taking over this group."

"Not while I'm around!"

"Then goodbye, Meowth. Lauren, would you do the honors?"

Lauren grinned maliciously. "Certainly." She picked up Meowth roughly by the tail and ripped the gold medallion off his head. It came off easily and they all saw the only thing holding it to his head was a piece of tape. Then, she dropkicked him out of the story.

"That felt sooo good!" Lauren said.

"So that's how he kept that medallion on his head," Jess contemplated to herself. Then, she smiled and turned to the other members of Team Rocket. "You guys have a problem with me leading?"

"Of course not!" they both answered quickly.

"Good. Now, first things first. We will no longer be riding around in that ghetto hot-air balloon. From now on we drive." Jessie and James looked happy. "And we will no longer go out of our way to catch Ash's Pikachu. We're gonna go after other rare pokemon, got that?"

"Yes, ma'am!"

Jess smiled evilly. "Starting right now, we will no longer be the push-over Team Rocket— We will be the undefeated Team Rocket! BWAHAHAHAHA!" The entire Team joined in with Jess's maniacal laughter. Then, when they ended that cliched villainous pastime, they started their trek to the nearest town to buy a vehicle of transportation.

****

"I hope we get a tank," Jess said to Lauren as they approached the unfamiliar town.

"Oh come on! You can't drive a tank!"

"Yes I can. You know, it's perfectly legal for an average citizen, such as myself, to drive one—"

"No. I mean, you don't have the ability to operate a tank," Lauren clarified.

"I'm sure I could figure it out. I really hope we get a tank!"

"That's a little farfetched for even this story," Lauren said to herself.

"Huh?"

"Oh, nothing."

Jess gave Lauren a look, but decided not to pursue the discussion. She turned to Jessie instead. "Do you know what city this is?"

"Hmm…Looks like Burnt Sienna City," she said, squinting at the city in the distance. "It'll probably be nightfall by the time we get there."

"Burnt Sienna City? I think they've taken naming these cities after colors a little to far," Jess said to Lauren.

"Yeah. Too bad it'll be night by the time we get there. We won't be able to buy a car."

"Buy a car? Are you kidding? We're gonna steal one!" Jess said gleefully.

"What?! You can't be serious!"

"Hey, we're the magnificent Team Rocket now! They steal everything! Remember when they stole that vacuum and hose in Cerulean City? It was the episode where—"

"You're completely deranged!" Lauren said loud enough for Jessie and James to hear.

Jess grinned at her friend's distress then asked the other two, "Doesn't Team Rocket always steal what they need?"

"Of course," James said. "We're here to make money, not spend it."

"See?" Jess said smugly. "Besides, we don't have enough money to buy a car, anyway."

"But what if we get caught?" asked Lauren. Jess realized it was a genuine concern and thought about it for a while.

"Okay, I've got it. First of all, Team Rocket seems to be able to steal stuff without getting caught, and now that Meowth's gone, that raises our chance for success. Secondly, we don't really exist in this world, so they can't arrest us because we aren't citizens."

"Well…" Lauren began. Something about that reasoning seemed backwards.

"Oh! And if we get a tank, we can just run over anyone who stands in our way!"

"Jess, you're evil."

"Just evil, or evil genius?"

"Evil genius, I guess."

"Yes!" Jess cried joyfully.

"I'm glad you're so happy about it," Lauren said.

They continued on toward Burnt Sienna City and, sure enough, reached it after dark. They walked quietly through the town looking for a car (or a tank) they could steal. Lauren was the first one to find a car she liked.

"Jess! Let's get this one!" she said, pointing to a car parked outside a small, shadowy building. Jess walked over and looked at the car. Her eyes widened and she stepped back.

"That's a hearse! I'm not going to drive one of those!" Jess exclaimed. She also noticed the building behind the car was a funeral home.

"Shh, Jess. You're screaming loud enough to wake the dead!" Lauren said with a grin.

"Not funny," she answered flatly. "Why do you always have to be so morbid?"

"I am not! Besides, this is better than a tank!"

"Never insult the tank! I swear, I'm going to—"

"Hey! We found a car!"

Jess and Lauren looked around and saw Jessie and James standing next to the perfect car.

"A hummer! Cool! That's almost as good as a tank!" Jess said.

"And the keys are in it, too!" Jessie said.

"I think we have found our transportation," Jess said with a grin. She couldn't wait to try it out.

***

The next day, Jess got her chance to try out the humvee. She drove through the city, only going twenty miles over the speed limit.

"This is great! Hey, you guys, where are we going to get some pokemon?" Jess asked. "Why don't we try some of those places you tried before?"

"Yeah," Lauren agreed, "Now that that stupid cat's gone, we should be able to pull it off." Lauren hated to admit it, but she was actually enjoying herself. So far not one cop had stopped them, not even Officer Jenny. Maybe no one reported the car missing.

"Where would we go?" James asked, disturbing Lauren's musings.

"Oh, you know, Stone Town, or we could try that pokemon cruise thing like on the St. Anne."

"The St. Anne?! We can't do that again! We nearly died when the ship capsized!" James objected.

"And then we had to work with that little twerp and his Pikachu," Jessie added.

"Fine. We'll just go to Stone Town first and decide what else to do after that. Hey! Outta my way, pedestrians!" Jess shouted, nearly running over some people crossing the street.

"Do you even know how to get to Stone Town?" Lauren asked, grabbing the dashboard as Jess careened around a corner. "And could you drive a little slower?"

"We've got to hurry! Quick, you guys," she said, turning to look at Jessie and James, "how do you get to Stone Town?"

"It's north of here, I think," Jessie said. Then her eyes widened.

"What?" asked Jess.

"AAAHH! Watch the road, Jess!" Lauren screamed. Jess turned around and saw she had drifted across the double yellow line and into oncoming traffic. A huge semi was heading straight for them.

"Whoa!" She yanked the wheel hard to the right and got the car back into the correct lane. "Sorry, everybody. I'm not usually such a bad driver. I'm just in a hurry now."

"What's the rush?" Lauren asked.

"Huh? Oh, I just, uh… Well, it's because, um… Hmm, I guess I don't really have a reason."

"So will you slow down?"

"Okay," Jess obliged grudgingly. They drove the rest of the way to Stone Town at a pitiful fifty miles per hour.

****

Stone Town proved almost too easy to rob. The new and improved Team Rocket sped away with a multitude of stolen pokemon and evolution stones. They were so sure of their triumph they decided to stop and eat in the nearby Periwinkle Town.

"Periwinkle Town? I think they've taken naming these cities after colors a little to far," Lauren announced as they entered a busy restaurant.

"Hey! I said that in Burnt Sienna City! You're stealing my lines!" Jess exclaimed.

"I am not!"

"Don't argue with the leader of Team Rocket!"

"Shh! Don't say that so loud," Jessie warned. "We are wanted criminals."

Jess looked at her. "No one is going to arrest us. I don't think we've even been noticed. I mean, we've got a stolen car towing a cartload of stolen pokemon parked outside that no police official has stopped to inspect, and we have big, red 'R's on our shirts, for crying out loud! Obviously, the law is very oblivious in this neck of the woods."

Lauren looked around the restaurant. She saw Jessie staring dreamily at a young, handsome, but rather shady-looking character seated in the corner. In fact, all the occupants looked a little shady. She noticed several of the patrons were wearing outfits reminiscent of the Godfather movies. Some were even carrying violin cases and speaking Italian. Suddenly, a few looked out the front window, and calmly left their seats and exited through a back door.

"Uh, Jess?"

"Where's the waiter? I'm starving!" Jess looked around. There were no employees as far as her eyes could see. In fact, there did not seem to be any signs of life in the vicinity. "We should've gone to a better restaurant."

"This place sure emptied out quickly," Lauren said. "I bet there's a reason. Maybe we should leave, too."

"I'm not leaving 'til I get something to eat!" Jess said angrily.

"Yeah!" James agreed. Both stood up and stormed into the restaurant's kitchen.

"Jess and her bottomless stomach," Lauren sighed.

"Same thing with James," Jessie said. They both waited for the other two to return with at least an appetizer, but there was no such luck. Jess came out of the kitchen empty-handed followed closely by James. They both stood, arms crossed over their chests.

"The entire staff is gone!" James declared.

"Nothing's been cooked, either. It's like they all just vanished," said Jess, then, more to herself, "If we had a tank, I'd demolish this place."

It was then that they heard the sirens. A police motorcycle pulled up outside. A woman with blue hair in a police uniform was riding it.

"It's Officer Jenny! She's found us!" Jessie whispered harshly.

"How could she find us here at the, uh…" Jess paused, looking at the front of a menu, "Mario's Mafia Café?! Oh man, why did we come here?"

"Because someone had to have pizza," Lauren said accusingly.

"Don't pin this one on me! James wanted some Italian, too!"

"It's not my fault! Jessie wanted to gawk at some guy she saw through the window!"

Jessie turned red. "I did not!"

Before anyone was pinned with the egregious error, Officer Jenny walked in.

"What's going on in here?" she demanded.

"Nothing, officer," Jess said timidly, trying to hide the big, red 'R' on her shirt, as were the others.

"Whose car is parked out there?"

"It's, uh—"

"Because it's lights are on! I wouldn't want that person to run their battery down!" she said brightly.

All four members of Team Rocket breathed a sigh of relief.

"I'll be sure to inform the owner. Don't worry about it, Officer," Jess said.

"Okay! Have a good day, now!" With that, Officer Jenny strode out the door and rode off on her motorcycle, siren still blaring.

"See? I told you the cops here were dense!" Jess said. "Now, let's go see if we can find some food to go. We have to report to that guy soon." They walked out of Mario's Mafia Café and jumped into their hummer once more, searching for a fast food restaurant.

"You know," Lauren said as they drove off, "that was the most stereotypical restaurant I've ever been in."

****

They pulled up to the lighthouse, unloaded their ill-gotten pokemon, and dragged them inside. Then they went to the communications room and waited for the call. Jess quickly became bored and looked around for something to do. When she determined that the room was barren except for the communications console, she looked at her teammates. Now would be a good time to ask that question that had been bothering her ever since she started watching the show. She turned to Jessie and James.

"Hey, do you guys know who Jesse James was?"

They both looked puzzled by the question. Jessie answered, "Why, we're Jessie and James, of course."

"No, that's not what I meant. I meant, have you guys ever heard of the outlaw first name Jesse, last name James?" Her question just drew blank stares. "You know, the Jesse James who fought under General Quantrill in the Civil War? The Jesse James who became a famous outlaw and robbed a bunch of banks? The Jesse James who—" she dropped the subject when the television screen suddenly came to life. A shadowy figure appeared in the monitor.

"Well? How badly did you fail this time?"

"So you're just assuming that we failed?" Jess asked, incredulous. "You know, when you assume, you make an ass out of you and me."

"HOW DARE YOU TALK BACK TO ME, YOU PITIFUL TRAINEE!!! WHERE'S MEOWTH?" the man shouted, as he so often did.

"Meowth's on… extended vacation," Jess said smugly. "And I'm not a trainee anymore. I'm the leader of this little band now."

"WHAT?!"

Lauren stepped forward, preventing Jess from dragging this out any more than necessary. "We got a whole truckload full of pokemon for you."

Jess looked irritated, but managed to check her argumentative nature (at least for the time being). "Yeah. We got them from Stone Town. They never saw what hit them. You see, we drove in there and--"

"You drove?" the man asked.

"Yes," Jess said, becoming annoyed with the man again. "Why does no one seem to believe I can drive? I swear, the next person—nevermind. Anyway, we drove into Stone Town and they were having some sort of evolution pokemon tournament and James had Weezing make a smokescreen and we put them all in our hummer and now here they are! So, where do you want we should leave them?"

The man in the monitor might have been surprised, but it was hard to tell without seeing his face. He asked, "You mean you actually got these nitwits to do something right?"

Jess glanced back at Jessie and James, who looked like they were used to being called nitwits. Then she turned back and said, "It wasn't their fault all those other things got screwed up. It was mainly Meowth's fault. He came up with all the stupid plans."

"But now he's gone, so you don't have to worry about it anymore," Lauren added with a grin.

For a while, their boss said nothing. Then, "You have done well."

"Hey, than—"

"But I want you to catch that Pikachu now."

Jess's jaw dropped. "Wha—Why? We were doing so well by avoiding Ash Ketchum and his friends! I'm sure the other pokemon we catch are worth more than that little rodent."

"DO AS I SAY WITHOUT QUESTION!"

"Just do it, Jess," Lauren pleaded as Jess started to make a nasty response. She started to object, but gave in instead.

"Fine, even if this is stupid," Jess muttered.

"Excellent," the man said with a smile. "And remember to drive safely." The monitor shut off.

"Uh-oh," Lauren said quietly. If there was one thing that could set Jess off, it was being told to drive safely.

"'Drive safely'?" Jess said softly. She tried to calm down, but failed. "DRIVE SAFELY?! I ALWAYS DRIVE SAFELY!! WHY DOES EVERYONE THINK I CAN'T?!" She turned to the now dark screen and shouted a string of profanity.

"God, Jess! Relax!" Lauren said.

"RELAX?! How can I relax when that stupid—" she cut herself off. "Just forget it! I refuse to hunt down some dumb electrical rat!"

"Uh, Jess?" Lauren questioned, not used to hearing such outbursts from her friend (even if someone told her to drive safely). "Are you okay?"

"Of course not!" she seethed. "I'm getting sick and tired of all the stupid people here!…Uh, present company excluded." Jess paused as an idea came to the more conniving part of her brain. She calmed down, an evil smile spreading across her face. "On second thought, let's do go after Pikachu. I know exactly what we're gonna do with it."

"You mean give it to the boss, right?" James asked.

"Oh no, my dear James, I've got something much better in mind!" She grinned and laughed maniacally.

***

Jess was still laughing as they tore down the road in pursuit of Ash and his Pikachu. Lauren found this slightly disturbing.

"Jess, don't you think you've become a little, uh, eccentric since we came here?" she asked.

She snorted. "Eccentric is what you would call the weird old lady next door who never leaves her house and wears Marsh bags tied around her ankles. I am not eccentric."

"Then what are you?"

"One hundred percent, certifiably INSANE!!!" she cackled. "Hold on!" Jess pushed down on the accelerator and hit a large bump in the road. Everyone flew out of their seats and James almost fell out the back of the car. "Wheeeeee!"

"You're going to get us all killed before we even find that Pikachu!" Jessie snapped.

"If you talk back to me one more time, maybe I'll just get you killed," Jess said coldly. The other girl clapped her hands over her mouth. Seeing Jess's present state, it didn't seem like such an empty threat.

Lauren quickly changed the subject. "So, what are we going to do with Pikachu if we're not giving it to that guy?"

Jess smiled. "I guess I should tell you guys my brilliant plan now. Even you two," she looked back at Jessie and James, "should like this. It's going to get us a lot of money!"

The other two members of Team Rocket perked up.

"We're gonna grab Pikachu, and, instead of giving it to that JERK, we're gonna hold it for ransom. If he wants it, he'll have to pay!"

"But we'll get fired for betraying the boss!" James exclaimed, and remembered too late Jess's slightly warped state of mind.

She stomped on the brakes, causing everyone to lurch forward. She turned around in her seat to look at him, a dangerous glint in her eye. "Listen, James," she said quietly, which seemed even worse than when she was yelling, "if we hold Pikachu ransom for enough money, it won't matter if you get fired—We'll be able to buy a new life. Hey, we could even buy your boss's life. Now," her tone became condescending, "let us all remember that Jess is having a bit of a nervous breakdown and she is easily upset. We wouldn't want anyone to end up with tire tracks down their back, got it?"

James nodded slightly, terrified.

"Good," Jess said, and stepped on the gas again. This time, she started driving a little more carefully. "Geez, Lauren, I'm having a really rough day. I need a relaxant."

"Why don't you take some of your Advil?"

"It's a painkiller, not Prozac," she said.

Lauren was silent for a while, then asked, "If we hold Pikachu for ransom and get the money, what are we going to do with it?"

"I dunno. Buy a house or something."

"Are you planning on staying here?!"

Jess smiled. "It's pretty cool here, but I think I might miss my family after a while, even my sister. Maybe not today, and maybe not tomorrow, but some day. I guess the feelings of two people don't amount to a hill of beans in this crazy world…"

"What?!"

Jess blinked, as if coming out of a trance. "Oh, sorry. I was thinking of something else. Anyway, I would miss Mom and Dad and Kate sometime, so I'm gonna go home—but with a ton of money!"

Lauren didn't say anything.

"Well?"

"Well what?"

"Aren't you going to respond?"

"What do you want me to say? Good for you, you're conning some guy out of his money then leaving the planet…dimension…wherever we are?"

"Well, any response would be nice at this point—Hey, is that someone up ahead?" Jess asked, leaning forward.

Lauren squinted. "It looks like a couple of people. I thinks it's Ass, Chock, and Lil' Whore!"

The crazy glint in Jess's eye returned. "Maybe this will help relieve some stress!" she said, flooring the gas pedal. "Everyone get ready for a battle, or a hit-and-run!"

Up ahead, Ash glanced over his shoulder to see where that noise that sounded like a car engine was coming from. Much to his surprise, it was coming from a car, and even more surprising, Team Rocket was driving it.

"I thought they only rode around in that balloon," he stated.

"We've got more important things to worry about, Ash!" Misty exclaimed. "RUN!" She took off down the road, closely followed by Brock and Pikachu. Ash stood in the middle of the road looking confused. Team Rocket in a car instead of a balloon? This threw off his whole perspective of the world.

"Prepare to meet your maker, Ash Ketchum!" Jess cried from the hummer.

"Take him out, Jess!" encouraged Lauren.

It slowly dawned on Ash that the people in the car weren't going to stop and he also ran down the road. No matter how fast he ran, though, the car kept getting closer.

"One of you guys had better do something to slow down Brock, Misty, and Pikachu!" Jess said to her passengers.

"I'll do it!" James proclaimed. He suddenly whipped out an enormous bazooka from nowhere.

"Where did he get that?" Lauren asked, but no one answered. James stood up in the back of the hummer and fired the weapon. A large net shot out, missing Ash, but catching the three ahead of him. The next shot pinned Ash to the ground. The hummer screeched to a halt in front of him.

"Why didn't you just run over Ass?" Lauren asked, a little disappointed.

"I may be evil, but I still have some morals," Jess said indignantly, stepping out of the car. She put her foot down right in front of Ash's face. "Well, well, well. Looks like we meet again, Ash." The other three members jumped out of the car and each struck a dramatic pose.

Jessie started the motto, "Prepare for trouble…"

"Skip it," Jess said bluntly. She looked down at Ash, who was struggling to get out of the net. "We've come for your Pikachu. Hand it over and we can avoid another pointless fight."

"Never!" Ash shouted defiantly.

Lauren sighed. "Nothing's ever easy, is it?"

Jess smiled. "I guess it's time for a battle. Boy, I haven't had a good fight in a while."

"Uh, couldn't we just grab Pikachu and leave?" James asked. "I mean, they are all trapped now." Jess snapped her head around, her eyes blazing. She raised her hand to smack him. James put his hands up to shield himself, but the blow never fell. Jess slowly lowered her hand.

"Oh, alright. Let's just take it and leave," she said.

"NO! Pikachu!" Ash shouted. He strained against the ropes of the net until they ripped off the ground. "You can't take it!" He grabbed all his pokeballs off his belt and hurled them at Team Rocket. "Pikachu, Bulbasaur, Charmander, Squirtle, Pidgeotto, I choose all of you!"

Team Rocket turned around and watched as the four pokemon materialized. The distraction gave Ash's companions time to escape. Brock and Misty pulled out their entire pokemon collections, also.

"Go Geodude, Onix, and Vulpix!" A rock with arms, a snake made of rock, and a fox with six tails appeared.

"Go Starmie and Staryu!" Two star-shaped water pokemon joined the fight, along with an unbidden duck pokemon holding its head. "No! Not you, Psyduck!"

Eleven pokemon and three trainers stood facing the four members of Team Rocket.

"Oh good. I was hoping you'd try something stupid like that," Jess grinned malevolently.

"But their pokemon outnumber ours!" James said nervously.

"Think about it, James," Jess said, pulling out her pokeballs and indicating the others should follow suit. "All their pokemon are unevolved--well, except for that purple star thing without a face. But anyway, all ours are evolved, except for Lauren's Ekans. There's no way they could beat us."

"You're right!" James realized. "Wow. You are such a better leader than Meowth. He never would have figured that out!"

"There'll be time for flattery later," Jess said quickly as the opposing pokemon started to advance. She heaved her pokeballs onto the field, yelling, "Go Charizard, Aerodactyl, and Dragonite!"

Lauren was next. "Go Ekans, Ninetails, and Blastoise!"

Jessie and James, with a newfound confidence in their pokemon's abilities, threw theirs out, too.

"Go Arbok!"

"Go Weezing!"

Eleven small pokemon now faced off against eight large (and in Dragonite's case, huge) pokemon.

"A pokemon battle royal! Still want to fight, Ash?" Jess jeered.

"You bet! Charmander, Flame Thrower Attack!"

The little orange lizard opened its mouth. "Charman—DAR!" it screeched as it spewed a raging fireball in Team Rocket's general direction.

"Blastoise, Water Gun!" Lauren shouted. Blastoise, happy to finally be in a battle, shot two streams of liquid from the water cannons on its back. The fire pokemon couldn't stand up to the torrential flood and ran, holding its burning tail in front of it.

"Way to take the initiative, Lauren," Jess congratulated her friend. "You actually joined in a pokemon battle voluntarily."

"Yeah, well, it was either that or get toasted. I just hope I didn't hurt the little guy. He's so cute!"

"Don't worry. That cowardly pokemon just ran away."

"Hey! Don't call my pokemon cowardly!" Ash shouted.

"Fine," Jess grinned. "He's not cowardly—he's craven."

"That's better! Now, Pikachu, Thundershock!" Ash commanded, completely missing Jess's repeated insult.

"Pika—CHU!" the pokemon cried, shooting lightning at the Blastoise.

"Blastoise, Withdraw!" Lauren called. It obeyed, pulling itself back into its shell. The lightning hit, but with no effect.

"My turn!" Jess said. "Aerodactyl, Wing Attack on Geodude!" The Aerodactyl flew behind Brock's pokemon and smashed it with its wing. Geodude flew through the air and landed on Jess's foot. "Ow! Stupid rock!" she snarled and kicked it. It didn't move, but Jess did. "OW! My toe!" She grabbed her injured toe and started hopping up and down on her other foot.

Jessie and James stepped forward and said simultaneously, "Now it's time to see what the original Team Rocket can do!"

"Arbok, Poison Sting Attack on Bulbasaur!"

"Weezing, Sludge Attack on Vulpix!"

The purple snake spit several nasty darts at the grass pokemon and the meteor-type creature hocked some sort of unmentionable substance into the Vulpix's eyes. Both victims were incapacitated.

Onix, Bind Arbok!" Brock shouted. His pokemon lashed out its tail and caught Arbok. Onix began tightening its hold, slowly crushing Jessie's pokemon.

"Arbok!" she cried.

James came to her rescue. "Weezing, Tackle Attack!" His pokemon slammed into Onix's head, causing it to drop Arbok. Onix fell to the ground, unconscious.

"James! You saved Arbok!" Jessie cried happily, hugging James.

"Starmie, Staryu, Water Gun Attack on Arbok and Weezing!" Misty said, taking advantage of the original Team Rocket's distraction.

"Dragonite, Block those shots!" Jess cried frantically. Dragonite stepped in front of the two streams of water, stopping them with its tremendous bulk.

"Pay attention, you two!" Lauren said to Jessie and James angrily. They blinked a few times, then remembered the battle.

"Dragonite, Thunderwave! Send those two ugly stars outta the ball park!" Jess commanded, completely oblivious to her teammates. The Dragonite raised its foot and brought it back down with a crash. A shockwave ran through the ground, catapulting Starme and Staryu (and Misty, for that matter) backwards. Jess smiled. "We shut 'em down!"

Lauren, meanwhile, was pitting her Ninetails against Ash's Squirtle.

"Ha! Water pokemon have the advantage over fire pokemon!" Ash gloated.

Lauren shrugged and said, "Makes sense. Ninetails, use your Ember Attack." The golden fox breathed a ring of fire around the turtle.

"Squirtle, put out the fire with Water Gun!" Ash said, still looking smug. The water quickly doused the flame.

"Oh well. Guess I'll have to use some other attack," Lauren said nonchalantly. "Ninetails, Quick Attack."

Before Ash could say anything, Lauren's Ninetails charged his Squirtle and pounced on it, hitting it rapidly with its paws and tails. Squirtle was soon down for the count.

"Oh no! Squirtle!"

"Where's your arrogance now, Ass?" Lauren asked mockingly.

The battle continued, and somehow, in the midst of the battle, Jess and Brock ended up next to each other. Brock had a sudden flash of recognition.

"It's you!" he said, aghast. "I thought you said you weren't a member of Team Rocket!"

"Well, I'm certainly surprised you were able to recognize me, but yes, I am now an official member of the eminent Team Rocket," she stated, then a thought crossed her mind. "Does that mean you're not attracted to me, anymore?" She let the slightest trace of hope slip into her voice.

"Of course I am! Perhaps after this battle, you'll want to go out to dinner with me?"

Jess tried to let him down nicely. "Sorry. I, uh, have a prior arrangement. It's kind of hard to get some free time now that I've joined the evil Team Rocket. I have lots of evil things to do, and you don't strike me as the kind of guy who would go out with an evil villain, which I am."

"Oh, that's okay. I can accept you for what you are, even if you are a member of Team Rocket," Brock said, smiling.

Jess frowned. This was going to be harder than she thought. She decided to try a more personal approach. "I really don't think this would work out. You see, I only date people with eyes."

Brock was silent a moment. "I can work with that. I could just wear sunglasses, then it wouldn't matter if you could see my eyes or not!"

"Augh! You're incorrigible! Leave me alone!" Jess slapped him upside the head, then flinched in pain. She pulled her hand back and saw a line of red across her palm. "Ow! Dammit, I cut my hand on your hair!" she exclaimed, stunned.

Suddenly, there was a loud crash. Everyone stopped battling and turned to where the noise had originated. They saw Misty, now recovered from the Dragonite's attack, bashing Psyduck's head with a big rock.

"How cruel!" Lauren exclaimed. "Ekans, Wrap Misty!" Ekans slithered forward and bound Misty in its coils before she could hit Psyduck again.

"Hey! Pokemon only attack other pokemon in battles!" Misty shrieked, trying to squirm free.

"That's for your pokemon abuse," Lauren said.

"Oh yeah? Psyduck, Confusion Attack!"

"Uh-oh. I remember this attack," Jessie said uneasily.

"What happens?" Jess asked. Before Jessie could answer, Psyduck started emitting strange, concentric circles from its forehead.

"What are those? Psychic waves?" Lauren asked. She was answered by suddenly being stuck with a terrible dizziness. In fact, all of Team Rocket, including their pokemon, became disoriented and started falling to the ground.

"Oh, no! I'm not going to be beaten by Donald Duck!" Jess said with a determined expression on her face. She looked at the last pokemon standing: Dragonite. "Everyone grab on to something bolted down," she whispered to her friends, fighting the light-headed feeling that was making it hard to concentrate. She closed her eyes against Psyduck's Confusion Attack and said, "Dragonite, Slam Attack!"

Team Rocket gasped as Dragonite leapt into the air. It landed on the ground with shattering force. Ash, Brock, Misty, and all their pokemon were launched into the air, flying this way and that and eventually colliding with trees, rocks, the ground, and each other. Team Rocket managed to keep themselves and all their pokemon on the ground. They each stood up slowly, and surveyed the carnage Jess's Dragonite had caused.

"What a mess," Lauren said. Her pokemon ambled up to her and sat beside her, waiting for orders. The other pokemon went to their respective masters; even Ash's battered pokemon took up stance next to him.

"I can't believe it! We actually won!" Jessie said ecstatically, walking over to the fallen Pikachu.

"Dumb duck," Jess muttered. "Gave me a fricken' headache." She reached into her pocket and pulled out her trusty Advil then swallowed two pills. "Charizard, be a good little pokemon and go get the special cage out of the car." Charizard obliged, even if he was upset that he didn't get to fight in the battle.

Out on the field, Brock stirred and looked around. "Uh, Ash, I hate to say this, but I think we should retreat!" he said, already recalling his pokemon.

Ash slowly sat up. "I agree," he said and quickly recalled his own injured pokemon. Only Pikachu and Pidgeotto remained free.

"Let's make a run for it!" Misty shouted, pulling her pokemon back as well. They all started to flee.

"Don't let them get away!" Jess shouted.

"Weezing, Smoke Screen!" James instructed. The poison pokemon covered the whole area with a noxious vapor. Ash and Company started to cough.

"Pidgeotto," Ash managed to gasp, "blow the smoke away!"

"Not this time, Ash!" Jess said. "Aerodactyl, Take Down Attack!" The leather-winged flyer appeared above the haze and bashed the feathered flyer to the ground before any smoke could be cleared.

Suddenly, a small, child-like voice called out, "PIKA!!!"

"No! Pikachu!" Ash cried realizing the first pokemon he ever got was being stolen. He could hear four laughing voices cheering and becoming more and more distant. At first, he couldn't figure out what they were saying, but then it all came together when he heard the last sentence.

"Team Rocket is blasting off again!"

****

"I can't believe it! We finally got Pikachu!" Jessie exclaimed.

"Pikachu," the captive pokemon said mournfully from its metal cage.

"Are you sure that cage can hold Pikachu?" James asked Jess. "It's not even rubber. Pikachu could easily zap us."

Jess smiled and glanced back at the cage being held by her Charizard. It was taking up most of the room in the back of the car and weighing the vehicle down, but it was the only pokemon they had that could keep Pikachu under control. Jess smirked at the thought of Pikachu trying to act up.

"Jess?" Lauren asked.

She started. "Huh? Oh sorry. I was lost in thought. What was the question?"

"James wants to know how that cage can hold Pikachu."

"Oh. Well, there's nothing special about the cage itself. That's why I kept Charizard out. You see, metal conducts heat very well, so if Pikachu even thinks of zapping us, Char has orders to put his flaming tail under the cage. The entire cage will heat up and Pikachu will think twice before it tries anything again. See? Science is fun when you know the secret!" Jess grinned. It was nice to know that some laws of science still worked in this world.

"Rubber probably would have been better," Lauren said. "At least we wouldn't have that big dragon slowing us down."

"I like my idea more," Jess said. "Besides, Pikachu would eventually chew through a rubber enclosure. Remember? He chewed through that rubber net in that one episode where there was a whole bunch of Pikachu? Remember?"

"Yes," Lauren said with a frown. A few minutes ago, Jess was homicidal, but now she sounded giddy. Lauren was starting to worry her friend's sanity level was even lower than it normally was. "Are you okay?"

"Actually, no. Look." Jess held up her left hand, displaying a bleeding gash across her hand. "I cut my hand on stupid Brock's hair and it won't heal. I think whatever hair gel he uses is keeping it open."

"That's gross, Jess. Get a Band-Aid."

"I should. It's been dripping down the steering wheel and now it's all slippery."

"Eewww."

"Thanks for your support, but we have more important things to worry about right now. How much money do you guys want?" Jess asked Jessie and James. "I have no idea what to ask for. You've worked for that guy the longest, so how much money does he have?"

"More than he needs. We could ask for any amount, and he would pay!" Jessie said, her mind wandering to what she would do with her share.

"Lauren, what's your favorite number?" Jess asked suddenly.

"Uh, sixteen," she said.

"Alright, we're gonna ask for sixteen million. Four million each sound good enough?"

"Yes!" all three said in unison.

"You could buy a working TV, Lauren," Jess smirked.

"Don't even start with me."

Jess grinned, but didn't dwell on the subject.

They reached the lighthouse after a long drive and several stops at fast food restaurants. Jessie, James, Jess, Lauren, and Charizard carrying Pikachu entered the building and prepared to make their demands to their shadowy boss.

"Okay, Charizard, stand here and hold Pikachu up. We want him to be able to see the goods," Jess instructed. She stared at the panel of buttons in front of her, wondering which she should push to contact their boss. She saw a large red button in the middle of the panel and thought, It's always the red button in the movies. She reached out and pressed it. The screen flashed on, but instead of showing a shadowy, angry man it revealed a television program showing a familiar-looking place. There were houses, people, and (most important of all) real animals, not pokemon.

"Jess! It's Earth!" Lauren exclaimed.

"How ironic," Jess said. "We watch them at home and they watch us here."

"Quick, let's just go home! Do whatever you did at my house!"

"But I want to ransom Pikachu!"

"Uh, excuse me," James broke in, "but what are you talking about?"

Jess sighed. "It's a long story. You see, I was at Lauren's house and we were watching a show about your world and I smacked the TV and we came here and I guess now we have the opportunity to go back."

"That wasn't a long story," James said.

"Well, it was the condensed version."

"Jess," Lauren pressed, "forget Pikachu and let's just go home."

"Hmph. And I was having fun here, too. We were about to get a lot of money and think of all the adventures we could have being part of the nefarious Team Rocket…"

"Don't even think about staying," Lauren warned.

"I bet, with a little time, I could work my way up the corporate ladder and become the president of Team Rocket, or whatever they call their leader…"

"JESSICA!"

"Okay! Okay! Let me just say goodbye." She turned to the original Team Rocket, "Jessie, James, it's been really, uh, different working with you guys. I'll miss both of you, at least a little bit. Here," she handed them her pokeballs, "I want you guys to have these."

Jessie and James looked like they were about to cry.

"That's so sweet!" Jessie said.

"I can't believe you have to leave!" James said.

"Apparently," Jess said darkly, glaring at Lauren.

"Okay, great. Time to go, Jess," Lauren said impatiently.

"Fine. I'll work with the TV while you say goodbye," Jess said to Lauren. Then, she jumped up onto the control panel more spryly than one might expect.

Lauren looked at Jessie and James. "Goodbye, you two. Uh, I hope you can get along without Meowth. Oh, you can have my pokemon, too. I won't be using them where I'm going." She gave them her pokeballs and they finally broke down and cried. Lauren gave them a disgusted look and turned to Jess. She was just standing on the control panel looking at the monitor. "What's wrong?"

"It's embedded in the wall. I can't smack the side like I did to your TV."

"What?! Well, hurry up and figure something out!"

Jess ran through some TV abuse options in her head until she finally settled on one. She shrugged and said, "Here goes nothing." She raised her foot and smashed it through the monitor. The TV started to fizzle and spark. "I did it! Quick, Lauren, get up here! Goodbye, Jessie and James! Remember to ransom Pikachu for us!"

Just as the strange light from the TV started to pull Lauren and Jess back to reality, they heard Jessie say, "We can't! You destroyed our monitor!"

****

Lauren woke up groggily. She found herself lying on a couch that looked familiar. After a quick look around, she realized she was in her basement. She had made it home! Then, she remembered Jess and saw her lying on her stomach on the floor, unconscious. Lauren grinned and saw her chance.

"Jess? Hey, Jess! Get up!"

She kicked Jess roughly in the side.

"Ow! That hurt!"

"Get up."

Jess rolled over and sat up slowly, holding her head. "I guess I had that coming. Where are we?"

"We're back in my basement."

"Kicking the TV worked? I didn't think it would. Hey!" Jess said suddenly, looking at her left palm. "I'm healed! Look!" She held her hand up. There was no mark anywhere on it.

"But, that wound was practically festering when we were in Pokemon World. It couldn't just have disappeared like that."

"It's like—It's like it never happened," Jess said with awe.

"Was it a dream?" Lauren asked.

Jess snorted. "You sound like someone from a Disney movie. Oooh, have I got a headache!" She reached into her pocket and pulled out her Advil and a small, scintillating object. They both looked at it, shocked. It was a teardrop-shaped pin that shimmered with all the colors of the rainbow.

"This really is like a Disney movie ending," Lauren said.

"More like Demented Disney," Jess said. Then, she grinned and jumped up quickly, causing Lauren to stumble backwards. "This is the proof that we really did travel through the TV into the alternate dimension of the Pokemon World!" Then, in her own little psychotic manner, she spun on the ball of her foot and shouted, "MMMMM… Soul Badge!"

"You already did that," Lauren said flatly.

"Oh. Well, I guess that about wraps things up, then."

"Actually, there's still one thing bothering me."

"And that is?"

"How did you get those pokemon for us?"

Jess's face lit up at the prospect of finally telling her story. "Well, the first night when I left to find some pokemon, I—"

"Jess!" a different voice interrupted. A person came walking down the basement stairs.

Jess looked at the figure. "No! Not yet! I've just got one more story to tell!"

"No," the person said. "It's time to go now."

"Oh, come on, Kate! Have a heart!" Jess said to her sister.

"Mom and Dad got your message and are here to pick you up. They don't want to wait," Kate said.

"Okay," Jess said dismally. "Bye, Lauren." She and Kate walked up the stairs and Lauren heard two cars pull away from the house.

She watched the stairs a little longer, then shrugged. "Oh, well. I guess I don't really care what happened." Lauren reclined on the couch and flipped the TV on. She was pleasantly surprised that one of her favorite shows, Sailor Moon, was on. She watched for a little while, then thought of something.

Hmm… I wonder. Lauren walked up to the television set, looked around to make sure no one was watching, then smacked the side of the box. The TV immediately began to spark and fizzle.

"Now this is going to be cool!"

End!

Final word: Okay, I hope that was decent! Anyway, I hope you enjoyed it (despite all the craziness) and are going to leave a review (don't make me beg!). And yes, it is completely legal to own and operate a tank. The hard part is just getting one.