A man stood beside a window. Gazing out over Lilycove City, he readjusted his wide-brimmed brown hat. It never quite fit, but that didn't matter.
"Doctor Cyprus?" Turning, the man saw a young receptionist calling to him. "The meeting is starting."
He smiled briefly. "Thank you." Leaning heavily on an old hickory cane, he made his way down one of the grand hallways of the Cove Lily Motel.
Pausing before a half-open pair of doors, he made sure his outfit was exactly the way he'd planned it to be. Slipping on a pair of thick-framed glasses, he hobbled into the conference room.
Two other men were seated at a large table, and they glanced up to see him enter. One fiddled with a large pair of dark sunglasses, while the other casually dusted off a pristine business suit.
The newcomer recognized both men immediately, but said nothing.
Slowly lowering himself into an open chair, the man coughed, adopting a low, scratchy voice. "I was informed that this was a private meeting."
"As were we." The man in sunglasses was speaking in a deep monotone. "It appears that our employer had other plans."
"He's not our employer-" the third man was cut off by the swinging doors. A young Trainer stood at the front of the room, smiling faintly, as if amused by some private joke. His short brown hair framed a thin, angled face; he couldn't have been more than twenty. A plain black shirt was offset by a red belt, which only carried two Pokeballs.
"Gentlemen," he began. "I do apologize for being less than... honest regarding this meeting." Walking steadily to the table, he grinned more widely at the confused men. "Doctor Cyprus, Professor Sumac, and Mr. Poplar, was it?"
"What's the meaning of this-" sputtered the first man, but he was interrupted by the young Trainer.
"My name is Fell," he said. "I assure you, I'm being completely honest, so... perhaps you would be willing to do the same?" He pointed to the man wearing sunglasses. "After all, your reputation precedes you, Giovanni."
Casting off the now-useless sunglasses, Giovanni quickly got to his feet. "This is an outrage," he hissed.
Fell raised his eyebrows. "Oh, please; don't tell me you didn't recognize each other?" He turned to the other two. "I suppose, if it would help, I could call you 'Maxwell' and 'Archibald'?"
Stunned, Maxie removed his hat with trembling hands. For his part, Archie simply stared at Fell without changing expression. "Well, well," said the seafarer quietly. "I'm impressed, boy. How did you find us?"
"You might say I'm gifted with foresight."
Giovanni reached to a Pokeball on his belt, still fuming. "This is trivial," he said through clenched teeth. "Now tell me why you've gathered us here, or-"
"Or what?" Fell didn't blink. "The authorities are still hunting each one of you, and we're in the most populous city in Hoenn. Kill me, and you'll never make it out."
Maxie kept quiet, but was holding a Pokeball of his own underneath the table, out of Fell's sight. If he could release Crobat quickly enough, he might be able to escape through the window before anyone-
"You just here to threaten us, boy?" said Archie calmly. "Gonna take us in? Lock up the big, bad bosses and save the day?" A dangerous gleam shone in his eyes. "'Cause I can promise you, that ain't gonna happen."
Fell held up his hands, taking a few steps back. "Relax. I'm here for something else." He paused, smiling faintly again. "In fact, I need your help."
All three leaders hesitated. Giovanni sat back down, glaring at the Trainer. "Go on."
"You headed the most successful crime syndicates the world has ever seen." Fell looked to each leader in turn. "The Pokemon League is a treehouse club compared to the plans and operations of your teams."
"Hardly," Maxie blurted out. The other bosses gave a start, as if they'd forgotten he was there. "Every major attempt to gain power in recent years- by any team- has met with failure."
Fell grinned again. "But think back to what you've done, what you've accomplished." He faced Giovanni. "You were able to set up three different bases in the most powerful cities of Kanto, and without anyone noticing for months. Your direction and planning led to the complete takeover of Goldenrod City." Turning to the rivals, he lowered his voice. "And you two nearly brought all of Hoenn to its knees- and that while you were fighting each other. Just imagine- what might you do if you work together?"
"What, indeed?" Giovanni was scowling. "What's the point? You haven't given a reason that we should agree to this foolish venture."
"No vision," mused Fell to himself. "None at all." He casually pointed his thumb at Giovanni's startled face. "I've studied your workings in Kanto. Every plan was perfect; you moved grunts from city to city without wasting a second. But you had no vision. Stealing TMs? Selling fossils? If I wanted to learn from the Hexagon Brothers, I'd move to Orre."
Maxie glanced at his archenemy. Of course he'd considered the idea of joining forces, but would never admit it. "This isn't as simple as you might think, Trainer," he said. "You can't just throw the three crime rings together and expect everything to fall into place."
"Believe me, I know." Fell was still smiling, but his expression became harder, somehow more angry. "Planning is everything, isn't it? Strategy and preparation are essential. For example, actually having a plan to control a legendary Pokemon once it's been encountered..."
Archie pounded his fist on the table. "Don't you mock me, boy!" he yelled.
Fell sneered. "Both of you tried to take the power of mythical beasts, without a single backup plan in case your precious Orbs failed you. I've seen Berry Blender groups that studied more!"
A brilliant blue flash lit up the room. When the light faded, a slender, steel-gray Mightyena was growling in front of Archie.
For the first time, Maxie saw a glimmer of fear in Fell's eyes. But it passed quickly. "If you insist," he said with a laugh. "Teleport."
A Kadabra materialized out of the air beside him.
Archie shook his head. "A Psychic type, to fight a Mightyena? You're out of your league, kid!"
"We'll see." Fell dipped his head. "Are we ready, then?"
With a snarl, Archie called out, "Faint Attack!" The Mightyena took off running in zigzag patterns, hoping to confuse its enemy. Kadabra simply watched, not taking its eyes off the Pokemon for a second. Then it simply vanished.
The Mightyena skidded to a halt, confused. Kadabra reappeared behind him, free hand glowing with an electrical pulse of energy. The ThunderPunch connected directly to the great dog's side; with a startled yelp, it dashed off to regroup.
"Hey, what's all this?" Archie shouted. "You gotta tell him the commands! Ain't a battle if he's on his own!"
"He's not." Fell kept concentrating on the battle, brow furrowed. "Kadabra is following my commands to the letter."
Looking back to the fight, Archie was shocked to see his Mightyena stumbling in circles, clearly Confused. The Kadabra must've used a Confuse Ray, or maybe-
A sudden Fire Punch knocked Mightyena onto its side. Just like that, it was over.
Archie gaped, recalling the Dark Pokemon to its ball, as Fell quietly repeated, "Teleport." The Kadabra straightened, rolling its shoulders, and vanished again.
The fight had lasted less than three minutes. Shocked, Archie quickly returned to his chair as Giovanni finally broke the silence. "So, what's your play?"
No longer smiling, Fell raised both arms in a grand gesture. "Vision and planning, like I said. The biggest job the League's ever seen. A chance to be remembered, forever."
Maxie sighed. "Yes, that's all well and good, but what would we actually do?"
"Is it money?" Giovanni interrupted. "Power? A takeover?"
Fell took a deep breath. "Bigger than that. Coordinate all three teams. Take any research, any resources we need. Distract the Hoenn and Indigo Leagues. And then..." He smiled again. "Then we find Mew. We find Mew, and we take it down."