Lurking in the Shadows

Chapter 26: Yarr! Pirate Out of Water!

“Pelipper and Primeape, it’s time to shut these mateys down!”

The man called forth a big white bird with a huge, bucket-shaped orange bill. It flapped its broad wings furiously, so much so that the blue feathers at the tips appeared to be blurs. It eyed both girls with its large, mesmerizing eyes. The other Pokémon wore an angry expression on its face – or eyes, at least. Its mouth was not visible, perhaps hidden by the mass of white fur that covered most of its body. it jumped around wildly, punching the air with its bulky, glove-like brown fists.

“What, Team Thrash is hiring pirates now?” inquired Lisa.

“Team Thrash?!” mocked the opponent. “Please, like I would ever associate with those landlubbers! I be a member of Team Deadly Cutlass, the baddest group of seafaring rogues to ever sail the seven seas, matey!”

“Deadly Cutlass? Cruiser, Ciera, or Supreme?”

“Arr, don’t insult us, ye scurvy dog! Oldsmobile be dead. We still be alive and kickin’! Send out yer Pokémon so I can make them walk the plank!”

“Fine! Jolteon, you’re up!”

“Go, Skiploom!”

Mimi had sent out a tiny green floating Pokémon. With a yellow flower blooming on top of its head and a smile on its face, the Pokémon waved its small, stubby arms about to attempt to control the direction in which its wide, round body floated. Beside it stood Lisa’s spiked yellow electric creature, matching Pelipper’s gaze with his own black eyes.

“Yarr! Focus Punch and Water Gun, now!”

“Quick Attack on Primeape!”

“Use Stun Spore!”

As Primeape was preparing its fist to land a devastating attack, Jolteon bowled it over with a rushing tackle. The floating round plant released a fine powder from its flower petals, blanketing the hairy fighter. Meanwhile, the big-beaked bird doused the yellow electrical creature with a small blast of water. Shaking off the attack, He was then knocked to the ground as Primeape made a sweeping motion with its leg. Quickly recovering, Jolteon launched a shot of sparking yellow electricity at the airborne aquatic Pokémon, but it encased itself in a protective green sphere, dispersing the electric bolts.

“Good work! Now, Petal Dance!” yelled Mimi.

Spinning in midair, Skiploom sent a flurry of sharp leaves from its blooming flower, striking the enraged monkey Pokémon. It countered with an uppercut that sent the lightweight cotton spore-like creature reeling as Mimi looked on, an expression of worry on her face.

Angry, her partner shouted, “I’ll get ‘em for that! Thunderbolt!”

Jolteon lit up Primeape with more electricity, causing the brawler to cry out either in pain or in anger. In the air, the winged Pokémon was met with more leaves that cut slightly into its smooth white body, but the seemingly unfazed bird lashed out by whacking Skiploom with its wings.

“You okay? All right then, Giga Drain!”

Primeape found itself encased in a brilliant green glow. The energy condensed itself into a ball and was drawn from its body and towards Skiploom. Meanwhile, the airborne Pelipper threw up another Protect sphere to effectively block an incoming electrical strike before hammering the spiked creature with a fast and strong Bubblebeam.

Somehow, I gotta zap that Pelipper…

“Mega Punch that thing, matey!” the pirate commanded.

The big monkey landed a brutal punch to Jolteon, sending the agile yellow creature skidding backwards, but he managed to stay on his feet. Pelipper also focused an attack on the Electric-type, blasting it with a stream of rapidly moving bubbles. But it left itself open for attack, as Skiploom blanketed the avian Pokémon with a cloud of fine powder that sent it to dreamland – and sent it crashing to the ground as a result. Lisa saw her opportunity to knock it out of the race.

Smiling, the girl gave the final instructions to seal Pelipper’s fate. “Now, hit that sleepyhead with Thunderbolt!”

Jolteon sent a vicious lightning attack toward the grounded bird, sealing its fate. The fuming swashbuckling trainer called it back. “Scyther, attack them!” he ordered, an angry scowl forming on his face.

Emerging from the Pokéball was a green mantis-like creature. In place of arms, it boasted a pair of razor-sharp blades attached to thin appendages. Furiously slashing its deadly scythes, it kept airborne by rapidly flapping a pair of thin wings on its backside. It came at the floating plant, sharpened appendages ready to strike. However, Skiploom managed to dart right to avoid the incoming attack.

“This is far from over, pal!” Mimi called out. “Now Skiploom, Double Team and Tackle!”

The small plant suddenly split itself into numerous copies of itself, all surrounding a stunned Scyther.

“Matey, ya better slice that plant to ribbons as it approaches you!”

Problem was, the bug Pokémon didn’t know which Skiploom was the real one as all of the clones began flying in toward it from all directions. It raised its blades to strike, but misjudged as it got rammed from the backside as the clones dispersed. It had ended up slashing nothing but air. Primeape came charging at Jolteon, dealing three quick jabs followed by a brutal kick that sent the Electric-type hurtling into a wall.

Gasping and clutching the bottom of her dress tightly, Lisa winced at that last sudden impact. “Oh, no! Jolteon, time to come back and rest!” As the Pokémon disappeared into his holding container, Lisa whispered, “Sorry about that, but you did well.” Turning back to the battle, the girl yelled, “Weezing, it’s time!” Her dual-headed purple poison-breather then took the field, immediately releasing a thick cloud of black fog from the ventilation holes on her inflated head.

“Darr, you’re affecting our navigation! Scyther, use Gust to blow that stuff away!”

Flapping its wings at high velocity, the flying bug whipped up a small cyclone that cleared the blinding smoke from the room. Primeape took this opportunity to deliver a Karate Chop to Weezing, but the Poison-type’s tough, rubbery skin easily rebuffed the attack. The purple creature delivered a heaping glob of slime to Scyther’s face. As the Pokémon struggled to get the sludge off of it, the tiny plant rammed it from behind again. The furious furry fighter delivered a leaping uppercut to Skiploom, taking it by complete surprise.

“Skiploom, can you keep going? Okay then, use Stun Spore to slow Scyther down!”

The small airborne plant shook loose some more tiny particles from its head, this time enveloping the big green mantis in a thick veil of fine powder. As this was happening, Primeape landed a final, crushing blow to Skiploom, leaping high into the air and delivering one devastating punch directly in its face.

“No! Return, Skiploom! Don’t worry, you’re safe now. Now, Wigglytuff, it’s your time to shine! Put the squeeze on Primeape!”

The pink, jellybean-shaped creature made its appearance for the second time, only this time it was serious business. Still, it didn’t act the part, as it happily bounded toward the hairy monkey with its huge feet. Soon it had the wily fighter in a crushing embrace, and the Pokémon couldn’t muster a move.

“Lisa!” Mimi called out to her battling partner. “Now’s your chance!”

“Right! Sludge Bomb!”

The floating purple creature sent forth a sphere that was dripping with a noxious liquid. The ball of slime struck Primeape on the backside and exploded on impact. The Pokémon fell to the ground and finally out of Wigglytuff’s grasp.

“This can’t be happening! Fearow, finish this!”

The large brown bird emerged and instantly spread its imposing wings wide. The bird’s head featured a row of red feathers on top and a long, sharp beak in front. Its wings, comprised of feathers of various shades of white and brown, flapped furiously, whipping up some intense winds. Opening its huge beak, it emitted a high-pitched cawing cry. Weezing shut the bird up with a shot of toxic slime to its face.

“Lisa, get Weezing back from the battle. I’m gonna try something.”

“Alright! Weezing, back off for a second!”

The double-headed Poison-type floated backward from the battlefield as Mimi’s pink balloon/rabbit hybrid stepped forward.

“Cover your ears,” she instructed to her partner as she did the same. Then she commanded, “Wigglytuff, Hyper Voice!”

The bulky pink Pokémon opened its mouth and emitted a deafening screeching noise, causing both pirate and his Pokémon to clutch their heads in pain. Wigglytuff took this opportunity to run toward the Scyther and started to slap it silly. After that, it jumped in the air before crashing its big rubbery body on the green insect, trapping it underneath its crushing weight. Safely tucked away behind the girls, Weezing launched a long-range Sludge Bomb, striking the stunned Fearow directly on the head.

“Darr, it not be over yet! Fight back, mateys!”

The normally agile mantis slashed at the pink blob that was laying atop it, forcing the bloated Pokémon off of it. Fearow flew in toward its gaseous opponent, ready to stick it to the orb-like Pokémon.

“We have to finish these two quickly! Let’s gang up on one of them!” Lisa advised.

“Let’s do it! Wigglytuff, use Mega Kick!”

Running toward both airborne opponents as fast a it could, the large pink jellybean jumped up before delivering a hard roundhouse kick to Scyther’s face. It then jumped out of the way to make the way clear for a volley of poisonous slime courtesy of Weezing. The insect fell flat on its badly bruised face. It disappeared in a familiar flash of red light.

“Impossible! Come back, Scyther! Fearow, it is up to you now! Get both of those annoying blobs!”

The giant bird spread its impressive wings and smacked both its opponents with one hard whack. Not to be outdone, Weezing and Wiggytuff both got back into the groove. The huge pink rabbit nailed the brown buzzard with its floppy pink foot, then jumped aside to make way for an assault of explosive poisonous balls courtesy of the putrid purple Pokémon.

“All right! That’s the way to do it! Just a little bit more!” cheered Lisa.

“We’ve got ‘em on the run now!” added Mimi.

“Drill Peck the both of them landlubbers!” ordered the pirate. “Get those fools!” The imposing bird flew in at its foes, sharp beak ready to strike.

“Weezing, time to take one for the team! If that bird wants a beak-full of you, that’s what we’re gonna give it!”

Weezing maneuvered in front of her battle partner and eyed the incoming antagonist closely. As the bird closed in, she positioned her body precisely so that the tip of Fearow’s beak lodged itself in a ventilation hole. After realizing it had no way to move its beak to execute the attack, the feathered Pokémon tried in vain to release itself from Weezing’s hole.

Smirking, Lisa was ready to lay the hammer down. “Now, Poison Gas!”

The pressure of the toxic cloud was enough to finally free the winged creature’s beak; unfortunately for it, it also resulted in a nasty poison side effect. Weakened by the effects of the poison, it only took one more leaping kick by Wigglytuff to ground Fearow once and for all.

“Dammit, matey! Looks like I walked the plank on this one! Our team’s first land-based operation is a failure! We’ll stick to the high seas from now on, but ye have not seen the last of Team Deadly Cutlass! Yarr!” Calling back his fainted bird, the pirate beat a very hasty retreat.

“Great job, everybody! We sent him packing!”

“Y’all did a great job there against that guy!”

“Wiggly!”

This time, the big pink creature squeezed both girls in its tight embrace.

“Okay… ow… this is gonna leave a mark…” Lisa struggled as the pressure was building.

“All right, let’s return before you crush both of us.”

As soon as both girls were able to catch their breath, Mimi turned to Lisa. “Hey, would you be up for a one-on-one match, just something to relieve the stress a bit?”

“Sure, after we rest up and get some lunch. Right now, I’m beat! Let’s rest ourselves and our Pokémon first.”

After a chance to relax and a late lunch, the girls were ready to begin their match.

“Ready to start?” asked Mimi.

“Sure! I’ll use my Vibrava!”

“Roselia, let’s go!”

Both green Pokémon took to a field located directly in back of the breeding facility’s egg storage building. Lisa’s bug-eyed dragon Pokémon with thin legs and wings in the shape of parallelograms faced off against Mimi’s shy looking plant Pokémon, with rosebuds on both hands and three sharp thorns atop its head. As Vibrava hovered above the ground, wings flapping furiously, Roselia waved both its red and blue rose petals around in a rhythmic fashion, both Pokémon waiting for the battle to start. Lindsay and the Garrison family of master breeders were once again spectators of a battle.

“All right, let’s start with a Dragonbreath!”

“Dodge that and counter with Magical Leaf!”

The green dragon opened her mouth and blew out a cloud of thick amber-colored smoke. Although the move struck its flowery foe, it was still able to counter with a flurry of sparkling green leaves. Vibrava then used her tiny feet to dig a hole before slipping underground. Roselia looked around, trying to figure out where its opponent would pop up. After a few tense seconds, the winged creature revealed herself, knocking the plant from below and sending it airborne. It came back down to earth, but not without delivering a whack on the dragon’s head with both rose petals.

“Good move, Lisa. But watch this! Roselia, now!”

“Okay Vibrava, fly in at Roselia and give it a Crunch!”

The airborne creature approached her opponent, driving her tiny teeth into the lower part of Roselia’s body before the plant retaliated by knocking her around with its red rose petal. Then the plant stuck it to Vibrava’s thorax with the three thorns atop its head. Reacting to the stabbing attack, the winged Pokémon once again burrowed her way underground, launching another surprise tackle from underneath Roselia.

“You’re still in this game, Roselia! Try to keep it above ground with long-distance attacks!”

“All right, stun it with a Dragonbreath then move in close for another Crunch!”

Vibrava unleashed more of her cloudy orange breath before flying in at her foe, all the while frantically darting left and right to avoid small brown seeds and poison-tipped barbs launched by her adversary. She then closed in and clamped down with her tiny jaws. Roselia once again shook off its foe by knocking her with its rose petals. Reeling from the strike, the bug-like dragon tried another Dragonbreath. But the Grass-type countered by sprinkling a fine powder from its blue rose, enveloping Vibrava in a cloud and giving it a paralyzing sting.

“Good work, Roselia! Now, Ingrain!” yelled Mimi.

Nervously twitching and fidgeting, Lisa told her crippled Pokémon, “If you can muster it, give it a Dragonbreath!”

Unfortunately for Lisa, she couldn’t get the attack off. Meanwhile, some brown roots emanated from the lower part of the flower’s body and found their way under the ground. Despite her stiffened, immobile body, Vibrava was able to flap her thin wings rapidly, kicking up a small tornado of wind and dust that soon engulfed her foe. The green dragonfly then shot another blast of Dragonbreath at the cyclone, landing a hit on the Pokémon trapped inside. But suddenly, that Pokémon unleashed a barrage of leaves from inside the twister, which both dispersed the winds and struck Vibrava.

“Looks like this one’s a toughie. Nail it with Bullet Seed, Roselia!”

“Okay, this one’s not gonna be easy! But let’s try a Dragonbreath!”

Both Pokémon launched their attacks, with Vibrava’s cloud of orange smoke colliding with Roselia’s barrage of brown circular seeds. Each strike managed to cancel the other one out. The flowered Pokémon then let loose a Magical Leaf attack. Its airborne opponent, however, couldn’t send out any attack on account of the paralysis, and the shimmering green leaves cut into the Pokémon, finally fainting the Pokémon after a long, hard battle.

“Vibrava, I’m sorry… Return…” Lisa said as she called back her defeated Dragon-type. “That was a good match, though. Congratulations on the win.” Though Lisa was disappointed at the loss, she had to accept it with honor. After all, she had told the two Garrison twins that just the day before and they were watching.

“Wow, Lisa, even though you lost and all, you didn’t cry or even yell out in frustration!” exclaimed Angelia.

“I know! How is it that you’re so calm about it! Sis and I could never be that calm!” added her twin sister, Sara.

Both Lisa and Mimi got down on their knees so they were at eye level with the twins. Lisa put one arm around each of them. “To tell you the truth, I used to be a nervous wreck after losing too. In time, though, I guess you realize that losing isn’t that bad. Sure, winning is better, but losing a battle isn’t the end of the world. You jut have to improve yourself and your Pokémon and try again. But I’m not trying again for today – I’m beat!”

“You said it!” agreed Mimi.

Over dinner, the conversation seemed to drift between breeding and Contests. Mimi was trying to explain to Lisa about the charm and appeal of Contests, but Lisa wasn’t being convinced. “I can see why they would appeal to some, but for someone like me who appreciates the logical and tactical, Contests don’t seem suited for my personality.”

“Yeah, I do see where you’re coming from. Regular Pokémon battles do involve more thinking and planning than showing off moves in front of a judge. All I’m asking is for you to give them a chance.”

“Well, I might have given ‘em a whirl, except that the contest heads are currently behind bars and nobody seems to want to restart Contests here.”

“True, since Contests gained a bad rep here, I can see why nobody would be motivated to revive them. But if you ever do any training in a region with Contests, try one out, please?”

“Oh, all right… but only because you asked me to!” Lisa conceded. “That’s the second time you won against me today!”

After dinner, Craig and Christi asked if the girls wanted to get together for a picture. Lisa and the Garrison twins yelled together, “Let us change first!” then quickly bolted upstairs. Lisa returned wearing her classic outfit – her blue floral dress, green lace-trimmed cardigan, and white pantyhose. The twins returned wearing the same lavender Sunday dresses they were wearing when they first met with the Northwood girls. Four Pokémon also posed for the group picture – Lisa’s Persian, Mimi’s Roselia, and the twins’ Meowth and Clefairy. Lisa handed off her camera to Craig so she could have a copy of the photo as well.

After snapping the picture, everyone sat down in the living room to watch some evening television before heading to bed.

“Unfortunately, Pokémon researchers have been unable to find a way to control the Pikachu population in the southeastern Fourtix region. In addition to rapid mating rates among their own species, and the unusually large litter of Pichu eggs produced each time they mate, scientists have theorized that female Pikachu operate much like violent sexual predators. They will zap male Pokémon of other species and then mate with the target while stunned, which produces even more Pichu eggs. Travelers are warned to be wary of packs of Pikachu, as they often engage in illogical and sometimes suicidal behavior due to their underdeveloped brains.”

“Dang, looks like I’ll be passing right through Pika territory in the next few days,” commented Lisa as Christi changed channels to show a familiar face- TV host Joel Madison, who had interviewed Lisa before.

“Once again, Shane Gregory Atkins is wanted for the armed robbery of the Citgo Quik Stop Mart on Gatehurst Drive in Northwood City. He is thirty-four years old, stands six feet tall, and weighs approximately 220 pounds. Now that he’s had his fifteen seconds of shame, let’s lock him up! If you know where this fugitive is tonight, contact your local law enforcement office or call our hotline at 1-888-5-WANTED. Next on ‘Fourtix Region’s Most Wanted,’ a violent gang war between the Thrash Brotherhood and Team Deadly Cutlass, caught on video! Perhaps you can identify some of the perpetrators in this incident.”
***********

As luck would have it, several shadowy figures in a darkened office had also been watching the footage of the shootout. The largest man spoke in a menacing tone, “Exol, Naps, we cannot afford another incident like this, drawing attention to our organization. Therefore I am putting you two in charge of Operation Undersea Recon, and I am sending you out immediately.”

Another man, who was clearly dressed in a lab coat, then added, “It is bad enough that we have teenage punks like Northwood to deal with, but now we have a bunch of stupid pirates attempting to steal our Pokémon. If you have to dispose of any of them, we request that you keep it as low-key as possible.”

“Agreed, sirs!” the two commanders replied in unison before filing out of the office. The three remaining men faced each other.

“There are two more matters we need to discuss – your father’s failure in Milltown and complaints from our female lab workers about the conduct of one of our male scientists.”

“That will wait until later,” replied the leader. “Right now, I have to preach another video sermon to our followers, making sure they don’t defect at this crucial time. But, let me tell you that this crap just gets harder and harder to write. Anyway, I’m off to address our grunts.”

Chapter 27: Not Your Typical Chemistry Lab

The next morning, the two sisters got dressed, preparing to set out again after lunch. Ignoring the fashion advice given to her, Lindsay wore the same white sweater and red plaid skirt she always did; Lisa had put back on her favorite blue floral dress and green shirt, with her usual accessories covering her legs and head.

“Sorry, you two, but Mimi already left for the mall in Northwood City to do some shopping. It’s just us here now,” advised Christi.

“Fine with us,” replied Lisa. We won’t be staying too much longer, as we’ve got to hit the road soon. But we figured we’d stay for lunch, at least.”

“That’s fine with us, you two. I’m sure you’re eager to get on your way.”

During a midday cookout, the twins asked Lisa, “Hey, when we get better, do you think we can have another battle? Hopefully it won’t be over as quickly as our first battle!”

“Yeah, that one didn’t go too well for us, but hopefully next time we’ll be a better challenge.”

Taking a bite of a burger, Lisa answered, “Sure thing. I gave your parents my phone number, so I might as well give you two my number as well. Call me when you’re ready and I’ll try to get over to battle you as soon as I can. But do me a favor.”

“What’s that?” asked the two young girls together.”

“Try to pick a city or something as the location. I really don’t want to have to make my way through some dense forest for a battle.”

“All right, will do! Next time, though, we’ll win!”

As Lisa watched her Pokémon, even the finicky Metang, enjoy a meal of freshly grilled burgers, she couldn’t help but smile. Persian wasn’t smiling, though, as she watched two of her partners in particular. Sealeo wolfed down the grilled patties with reckless abandon, devouring at least six of them. Jolteon, on the other hand, slowly chewed his food as he lay on the lawn. Both of the Pokémon had bits of meat fall from their mouths while they ate, which was unacceptable to the prim and sophisticated cat Pokémon.

Once her Pokémon had gotten their fill, they were called back into their spherical holding chambers. After saying good-bye to their new friends, Lisa and Lindsay made their way south. Of course, both girls had thrown their coats on over their outfits, as it was none too warm outside. This path was in better shape compared to the previous trek through the thick forest, but Lisa commented, “It ain’t no I-85, that’s for sure!” The grass was much shorter, there were only a few trees instead of a full-blown forest, and the amount of thick overgrowth was minimal. A perfect setting for a nice stroll – if it were about twenty degrees warmer.

Perhaps because the setting offered little cover for wild Pokémon, the girls didn’t have any come up to attack them. “Apparently, the mob of ugly annoying rodents is still south of here. Probably a good thing, though. I don’t need those things farting in my face again.

The trainers also seemed to be in short supply on the route. The two siblings were able to make some pretty good progress down the route without interference. Though it was a bit boring, recent Thrash skirmishes had taught both girls to enjoy these streaks of tedium, as trouble seemed to always loom nearby.

Without warning, the Luxury Ball in Lisa’s bag lit up before letting loose its Pokémon. Persian emerged in a flash of red light. She started to run toward a thicker stand of trees off in the distance, but then stopped to look back at her trainer and her sister, who were looking on in stunned surprise. The cat lifted one paw, in an effort to beckon the girls to follow her.

“Oh, gotcha! Come on, Linds, let’s see what’s up!” the older sister replied before both ran off to the east, leaving the main road and following the Pokémon off the beaten path. Making their ways through the thick stand of trees, the two girls started to worry a bit. But Persian seemed to want them to follow, apparently sensing something important that needed to be checked out. For the better part of an hour, the girls and cat trudged on, Lisa making sure that nothing snagged on her dress or pantyhose. Finally making their way back into a clearing, they were all presented with a truly sinister sight on the other side.

A huge gray facility towered over the girls. Its exterior was covered in a flat metallic surface, not unlike stainless steel. The plain, block-shaped building was devoid of any windows. The only exterior decorations were black sliding doors, mysterious red lights, and security cameras mounted at regular intervals. Smoke billowed from ventilation openings on the side of the structure, and every now and then a buzzer, whistle, or muffled PA speech could be faintly made out.

“I’ve got a bad feeling about this place… and I’m thinking it’s Thrash that runs this place,” Lisa commented. She tried her cell phone to alert Inspector Morgan and the authorities, but couldn’t get a signal. “They probably built this place here because they knew a cell phone won’t work here.

The teenager removed her hat and neatly put it in her handbag. She took off the bag and her larger backpack. Taking only her six Pokéballs from her handbag, she gave both bags to Lindsay before telling her, “I need you to take the rest of my stuff and go back to the breeding house with the Garrisons. Have them call the police, Archie at the Weather Lab, and Gym leader Reed if they know where he lives. Go! I’ll lead you back to the clearing, but we don’t have time to lose!”

“Okay, I’ll let them know!” the sister replied as both sisters and Persian turned around and bolted back through the forest that discreetly concealed this imposing facility. Once Lisa made sure that her sister made it out of the forest safely and back into town, Persian led her trainer back through the forest and back to the laboratory. Apparently the entire route was a “dead zone” for cell phone signals, as Morgan could not be reached at all despite the older sister attempting to call several times.

The remaining girl called back Persian before opening her coat and stuffing her six Pokéballs into an inside pocket. “Looks like it’s time. This is going to require amazing cunning and stealth to get in. But it’s go time. Let’s get dangerous – again!

Making sure to dodge the roving cameras, Lisa spotted a way in. Using all her physical strength (something she rarely did), the teen removed a ventilation grate and crawled inside the narrow, silent shaft. Lisa spent quite a while exploring the dark, drafty ventilation shafts as they snaked their way in a meandering path throughout the complex. She finally found an opening in the vent that would allow her to drop down to the floor. She carefully removed the heavy steel grate while making as little noise as possible.

Looking down, Lisa could see a throng of scientists, all clad in white lab coats, having some discussion among themselves. The girl began doing some calculations in her head. “I weigh 105 pounds, multiply that by thirty-two feet per second squared, figure in an eight foot drop – I should be able to descend with enough force to knock someone out. Then I can take their lab coat and hopefully blend in somewhat.

Patiently, the teenager waited until there was only one scientist in view. When she made her way directly underneath the vent’s opening, Lisa made her move, jumping down and landing on the older woman, knocking her down and out. Before the lab worker came to, Lisa had “borrowed” her lab coat and ran off.

The white coat she had taken was a bit big for the girl, but it did manage to completely cover the blue floral dress that would have given away her identity. Also in an effort to hide who she was, she had tied her hair back in a ponytail. Lisa was feeling confident that she would be able to infiltrate this laboratory undetected as she passed room after room filled with equipment such as large electric generators, chemical holding tanks, and massive electron microscopes. The lab was also filled with seminar and conference rooms, and computer labs.

So far, Lisa had not seen anyone else patrolling the hallways of the lab. “This place is strangely empty. Maybe this won’t be so difficult.

But the girl had not managed to avoid trouble. A scientist approached her with a suspicious look on her face. “Can’t say I’ve seen you around. Let’s say you prove to me that you belong in this here lab with a Pokémon battle. If you refuse, I will alert security.”

Attempting to disguise her voice by making it deeper, Lisa replied, “Fine with me.”

“A wise choice. I call out Voltorb and Porygon!”

Voltorb, which Lisa had encountered and caught earlier, was perhaps one of the most plain, unadorned Pokémon. Only a set of angry eyes interrupted its clean, sleek, red and white spherical form. It emitted a low, mechanical, “Voll-TORB” as electricity sparked from its circular body. The other Pokémon, Porygon, had a body that was a mixture of pink and blue surfaces. Very crystalline and angular in appearance, the individual surfaces connected together to form the Pokémon’s blocky appearance. Though features like eyes, a beak or bill, and a tail appeared on the creature, it definitely had a “manufactured” look.

The teen figured, “I have to use Pokémon that look like they would fit in a scientific facility such as this… Wait, I got it!” She commanded, “Weezing and Metang, go!”

Weezing emerged in her usual position, a few feet above the floor. The purple Pokémon shrunk one of her circular heads while expanding her other one, letting loose a significant amount of smoke. Her chromed partner also levitated above the ground, waving its two silver arms around as it scanned its mechanical foes with its glowing red eyes.

“Let’s start this with Sludge Bomb and Confusion!”

“Hah! Counter them with Tri Attack and Screech!” yelled the female scientist.

The rapidly rolling ball was the first to make its move, emitting an ear-splitting mechanical noise in an attempt to unnerve its foes. Undeterred, the dual-headed toxic orb spit out a hard-hitting chunk of purple poison at the sphere, sending it spinning away from the rest of the battlers. Porygon fired off a triangular-shaped ray consisting of red, yellow, and blue energy beams, striking Weezing. Metang appeared unaffected by the Screech attack. However, the metallic Pokémon made no move to attack, but Lisa had an idea why.

“Heh. You call yourself a scientist, yet your Metang refuses to obey your commands.”

“On the contrary, Metang does not think you are strong enough to be worth its time.”

“Oh, really? You are confident, I’ll give you that, but you can’t beat me two on one!”

Smirking confidently, Lisa replied, “Might as well try it. Cloud their vision with Smokescreen then give ‘em some more poison!”

The younger trainer recalled Metang, as it was clear it would not be participating in the battle anyway. As she did so, her other Pokémon quickly filled the hallway with a murky black fog that completely concealed all of the Pokémon. From within the fog, sounds of Pokémon slamming their bodies against one another could be heard, along with a loud “splat.” The smoke was soon cleared as a result of Voltorb spinning rapidly to blow the substance away.

“Okay, Weezing, we’re going to solve this one equation at a time! Give Voltorb a taste of Poison Gas, then follow up with Tackle!”

This time, the cloud that the floating Pokémon released was purple in color and highly concentrated. The sinister gas hovered above the spherical Electric-type before descending on it. While the dual-colored ball was reeling from the poison, Weezing floated in towards it and sent Voltorb spinning out of control, also dodging a Tri Attack in the process. But Weezing couldn’t avoid a surprise electric blast from her sparking opponent.

“Excellent work, Voltorb! Now, you two, let’s finish that gas-bag!”

“If you’re going to win this, we’re not going to make the solution easy! Let’s get ‘em, Weezing!”

Both Voltorb and Porygon began charging up electricity before combining their energy for a high-powered double Thunderbolt strike. As the attack hit, Lisa looked on, struggling to maintain her composure in the wake of a powerful hit. As nervous as she was, she knew that she had to keep her game face on or risk blowing her cover. Fortunately, her Pokémon was able to take the damage without missing a beat, and she quickly unleashed a dark cloud of gas from her ventilation holes. Once again, Voltorb cleared the air by way of rapid rotation, but not before Weezing had rammed Porygon and sent it reeling amidst the confusion.

“You’re more skilled than I thought. Now I’m concerned that you’ll get promoted ahead of me! Spark and Tri Attack now!”

A spinning blur of red and white got a spinning start, then launched itself into the air and struck a mass of flexible purple skin, electrocuting Weezing and causing her to fall to the ground, making it an easy target for the triple-colored blast from the crystalline Porygon. Down but not out, the poisonous Pokémon spit out a sticky purple substance from both her heads, simultaneously striking both opponents and giving her an opening to get herself airborne once again.

The teenage “scientist” noticed that Voltorb’s movements were slowing, no doubt a result of its weakened power combined with the crippling effects of the poison. “Finish Voltorb up with Sludge Bomb! Let’s trigger a massive chemical reaction!”

“Get her! Don’t let her win!”

The electrically charged sphere was able to unload a final shocking blast to its toxic foe before succumbing to a perfectly aimed ball of exploding slime. The fainted Voltorb was recalled by the female scientist.

“Good work, Weezing! There’s only one left!”

“It’s not over yet! Porygon, use Zap Cannon!”

The opposing Pokémon prepared a huge ball of electricity in front of its face. Crackling with power, the yellow shot of energy was launched directly at the floating Pokémon. Weezing quickly moved to the left, avoiding the midair attack attempt before emitting a dark cloud and sending it toward Porygon. The manufactured Normal-type took this latest assault with stride, and proceeded to emit some weird mechanical noises before charging in at the floating purple orb at an alarming rate. The high-speed Tackle was enough to sack Weezing, sending her crashing into the steel-gray wall of the lab and producing a sizable dent in its finish. The Poison-type was quick to recover from the hit, though, and was not going to be sidelined so easily.

“Hey Weezing, are you feeling up to it? Excellent! Show it a nasty Sludge Bomb!”

“Try a Psybeam attack!”

Weezing took in air and expanded her flexible purple body, enabling her to float right over the multicolored ray that was mysteriously fired from the front of Porygon’s face. She then retaliated with concentrated purple slime, but the attack ended up landing wide to the left as the opponent used some psychic energy to lift itself. The Normal-type gained enough momentum to slam directly into Weezing’s “poisonous” mark on her underbelly, knocking the wind out of her. As she descended, the two-headed Pokémon released a purple cloud of toxic gas, which swirled ominously over Porygon’s head before sinking in to do its deed.

“Meet the power of science! Weezing, keep up the nice, disgusting poison attacks!”

“I must admit that you are quite the trainer and scientist,” conceded the older female researcher, “but this battle ends here! Porygon, use Tri Attack!”

The Normal-type was faster, and prepared weak concentrations of fire, electricity and ice based energy in front of its body before launching the multicolored beam right at its putrid foe. The attack came in far too quickly for the gaseous creature to dodge, and she delivered a fairly hard hit. Although her purple exterior showed signs of wear from repeated impacts, Weezing was able to launch off another slimy Sludge Bomb that found its target, finally taking down the crystalline Porygon.

“Fine,” the woman responded as her fallen Porygon returned to its holding device. “I thought you might have been an imposter, but I suppose I was mistaken. And any promotion you may receive from the boss will be well-deserved. Please, carry on with whatever research you were doing.”

“Understood,” the disguised girl responded in her modified voice. “You proceed as well.” With that, both white-clad females parted ways.

Lisa did not know how deep in the facility she currently was, or where the research heads could be found. She had no choice but to explore the lab, without any definite game plan or strategy. Lisa did not like to do things on impulse. Her scientific mindset had always preferred her actions to be well-planned. But that clearly wasn’t an option here. Passing by an open hallway, she spotted two more scientists having a sparring battle between them. “Apparently, these battles are pretty common here…

The distracted girl had bumped into a large male scientist. “Hey, watch where you’re going, novice! Or perhaps you’d like to battle? Growlithe, go!”

The small hairy puppy had been a staple on Thrash teams. Its orange and off-white fur was instantly familiar – Lisa had defeated more than her share of the canine Pokémon. She’d have to do it again, though, as this dog was wagging its tail rapidly and violently, and it was snarling at the girl.

Seeing her hesitation, the man quickly added, “You do know we are not limited to using lab-assigned Pokémon, right? We can use our own personal ones if we desire.”

“Um, of course I knew that. I was just thinking about who I was going to use.” Opening her lab coat carefully so as not to expose her outfit underneath, Lisa pulled out Persian’s Luxury Ball and sent the cat Pokémon into battle. She let out a low, startling “Meoooow…” before straightening out her tail and extending her sharp claws. Her carefully groomed beige fur almost had a reflective quality underneath the lab’s bright lighting.

“I’ll start this with Flamethrower!”

“Hah! Ram 1500 Hemi Quad Cab that attack and give it a Shadow Ball!”

Not liking Lisa’s “Dodge truck” command, Persian gave her trainer an annoyed look but proceeded to jump right over the incoming stream of red flames before launching a circular blast of dark purple energy at her hotheaded foe. The fiery hound took the attack, then quickly recovered and charged toward its feline foe. Growlithe rammed its head into Persian’s, and both Pokémon fell to the ground, with the puppy on top and sinking its teeth into the cat.

“Shake it off then give it a nice bath with Water Pulse!”

“Don’t let go of that Persian! Keep up the Crunch attack!”

The prim Persian rose to her feet, the smaller furball still digging sharp teeth into her backside. The cat quickly swiped at the Growlithe-turned-parasite and got it to release its hold. The defensive move was quickly followed up with an offensive one, as a rippling stream of brilliant blue liquid shot out of the feline’s mouth, quickly finding its target and knocking the firebrand down. The orange mutt was snarling and “drooling” small red embers as it got back on all fours.

“Now you’ve done it! Growlithe, Frustration!”

“Jump to avoid, then come down with an Aerial Ace strike!”

The flaming canine attempted another charging attack, but its agile target quickly launched herself into the air, before descending on the befuddled aggressor. Persian delivered a swift and accurate midair strike before making a perfect landing.

“Time to bring out the big guns! Overheat!”

“That thing’s fur is already soaking! Persian, chemistry tells us we should now give it a nice electric blast!”

The small dog’s orange body became completely engulfed in flame as it prepared to fire off a devastating strike. At the same time, the posh cat’s fur was crackling with electricity as it prepared her own attack. But Persian was faster, delivering a shot of blinding yellow bolts to the dog’s wet fur, throwing off its aim. The impressive, widespread mass of flame was fired straight into the air, and came crashing down on the very Pokémon that had launched it. Seeing an opening, the confident feline delivered one final beam of pulsating water waves at her opponent, ending Growlithe’s run.

“Growlithe, return! Pikachu, light her up!”

The girl tried to stifle her laughter when she saw the minuscule yellow rodent materialize in front of her, wiggling its pointed ears playfully as it wagged its bolt-shaped tail. It wore the same dopey smile that another certain Pikachu had on its face, but this time, things would be different. “No way am I letting this thing fart and flip me off like that other dumb Pikachu!” Then the girl ordered, “Throw it for a loop with Pay Day and follow up with Shadow Ball!”

The tiny rat began to create sparks near the red spots on its face, but never got the shot off as it soon found itself being pelted with a barrage of shiny gold coins. Some of the currency hit the electric rodent on the forehead, knocking the small creature onto its back. Pikachu got back up but was clutching its head in pain and crying out in an ear-splitting squeal. Undeterred, the feline fired off a sinister ball of dark energy, slamming into the lightweight Pokémon and sending it flying. Pikachu’s flight was grounded when it slammed into the wall.

“Pikachu! Hurry and get back up!”

“Now, Persian!” Lisa called out with confidence. pointing directly at the injured rat, “Finish Mr. Pika with a Slash!”

Using her powerful hind legs to jump into the air, Persian came down at Pikachu with her claws at the ready, delivering a single, blindingly fast swipe. The razor-sharp hit was the final nail in the coffin, as the little yellow creature fell over one last time, with the gash left by Persian’s finishing attack still visible. The man called back his Pokémon before Lisa and Persian brought any more pain.

“Damn, I underestimated you. Good battle though,” the scientist conceded. “But now that we’ve had our practice, I think it’s time we got back to work. The chief has expressed the need for additional scientists in the “D” wing over that way. Why don’t you help out there? That thing they’ve got cooped up there gives me the creeps.”

“Agreed,” responded Lisa as she recalled Persian and concealed her Pokéball in her interior coat pocket. “I’ll head there and see if I can be of assistance.” The girl then left the man to do whatever he was assigned to.
*******

In the lab’s office, the mysterious leaders within had received an urgent report from the woman that Lisa had knocked out. The leader, seated at the office’s desk, let out a low, sinister laugh. “So, Northwood finally showed up. I suspected she would find her way here.”

“What should we do, sir?”

“Have her restrained and thrown into the holding cell with those scientists. Let her witness our success before eliminating her. Send a text message to all staff to look out for anyone suspicious, and have them ask to see ID. If they fail to produce their employee ID card, have the offender captured on the spot.”

“Right, sir! I will ensure that my staff will have the intruder caught in a timely manner.”

Excellent, Professor. For now, I want you to head toward “D” wing. If she has overheard any discussion, she will likely try to make her way toward that area. Take a couple scientists as backup and make sure she does not uncover ‘IT’ for the time being. She will be introduced to it in due time. Our goal is close at hand, and our nemesis will not thwart us now! In fact, she will be eliminated! Hahahahaha!”
********

The teenage trainer was curious about what her last opponent had told her. As she continued deeper into the lab, she of course had to wonder, “What ‘thing’ do they have kept there? Maybe this “D” wing is the key that’ll explain what’s going on here.

Lisa decided to make her way in that general direction. But she was soon stopped by a group of four scientists. On instinct, she asked, “Any of you up for a practice battle?”

“No, we need to see your employee ID card,” frankly replied one of the men.

A feeling of dread overcame Lisa. “Uh, oh… I think I forgot to rip it off from that scientist earlier…

Chapter 28: Lisa Has the Right to Remain Silent!

The teenage girl stammered, “Um… ID… sure, just let me get it… HEY!”

Another scientist had approached Lisa from behind and ripped off her lab coat, exposing her purple coat and bottom of her distinctive blue floral dress – and that she was an imposter.

“It… it’s that Lisa girl! Grab her!”

Crud, looks like I’ve been found out!

Before any of the scientists could seize her, the panicked girl spun around and sprinted away. Her pursuers ended up stumbling over one another as they scrambled to pursue her. Rounding a corner, she unfortunately hit a section of hallway that had been cleaned. She barreled over the yellow “CAUTION WET FLOOR” sign. Though she banged her knee and ripped her pantyhose on the sign, she kept her balance. Soon enough, though, her feet slipped out from underneath her on the slick surface. She fell down, still sliding down the corridor on her rear.

“Oh, no! WHOOOAAAAA!”

When her wild ride finally came to an end, the girl found herself on the floor, looking up at three scientists with very wicked grins on their faces. At this time, Lisa had realized that her dress had slid up her leg during her slide, and that she would have been left exposed if not for her pantyhose. Quickly though, she pulled down her dress as the three men loomed over her.

Great, I don’t need to be captured AGAIN! Why can’t I avoid getting into these messes?!

One of the men addressed the cornered young trainer. He was a tall, thin man with very dark skin. He wore a black moustache and beard, but his head was completely bald. Like the others, he was clad in a white lab coat. “I am Dr. Anthony Simon Jackson, but you are to call me ‘Tony.’ I am the head scientist for the Thrash Brotherhood, and the leader of this laboratory. You claim to be an intelligent young girl, yet you foolishly thought that you could remain undetected in here for long? Clearly, you are much more ignorant and stupid than you lead others to believe. As my researchers are restraining you, I hope you will have time to reflect on the futility of your efforts to stop us. You shall bear witness to the success of the first stage of our operation. Then, unfortunately, I shall have to kill you. Odlow! Lethco! Take her away!”

Okay, Lisa… how are you going to get yourself out of THIS one?

The two subordinate scientists, who had shackled Lisa during Tony’s speech, now dragged the girl to her feet and led her away from the “D” wing that she was headed to. Instead, she was led to a large room about halfway across the complex. The room was sectioned off into two parts, one of which was set off by a massive door lined with heavy steel bars, much like a prison cell.

“You two may leave! We’re relieving you now!” one of the scientists called out, and two other researchers, who were already in the room, filed out.

One of the men withdrew an ID card from his pocket and swiped it through an electronic reader. The clunky gray door began to rattle and groan as it began to slide open slowly. As the door opened, the man yelled, “You got a new cellmate coming in! Enjoy!”

The other researcher removed Lisa’s shackles, but kept her hands and ankles in cuffs. Both men then began patting her down in an attempt to make sure she had no Pokéballs or weapons on her. One of the men warned the other, “Now don’t get too touchy-feely here; we’re here on business!” Thanks to her thickly padded coat, the two men had failed to find the teen captive’s Pokéballs which were safely tucked inside.

“Heh, she didn’t even bother to bring any Pokémon. What a dimwit.” After that, he threw the girl to the prison floor violently before hitting a switch on the wall. Although the door had been slow to open, it slammed shut in mere seconds, making a deafening metallic sound as it closed.

Lisa looked around at the steel walls and cage-like door that now completely surrounded her. Then she took notice of the three others also kept in the cell. One was instantly familiar- the petite, dark haired woman who had given Lisa her first Pokémon – it was Dr. Sequoia. Wearing a purple collared blouse and black dress pants, it was clear that she had been roughed up, as her clothes were wrinkled, her hair was unkempt, and she had several bruises on her face.

“Oh, no… Lisa, they got you too, huh? Are you all right?”

“Yeah, for now. What about you? It looks like they manhandled you pretty badly there.”

“Don’t worry, I’m okay for the moment.”

I still cannot believe the gall of these creeps!” Lisa then got a look at the third woman in the cell. A few years older than she was, this girl was clad in a tight-fitting lavender outfit. Her most noticeable features were her huge mesmerizing green eyes and her extremely long pink hair, which had been tied into two ponytails. Her headgear consisted of a pair of safety goggles. She was surprisingly tall and lanky, and seemed to be spacing out.

The fourth person in the cage was the only male, a rather solemn looking figure. His lab coat was gray instead of the typical white, with blue stripes outlining its major features. The coat had an unusually high collar in back. Also visible was a pair of purple slacks. His dark gray hair was neat except for a jagged strand that protruded several inches out from his forehead. The man’s eyes were concealed by thin, dark-tinted shades. Although his stubble had begun to form a black goatee around his face, it looked as if he would usually have been clean-shaven.

“Lisa,” Dr. Sequoia spoke up, “these are the two former Cipher scientists who had been working with me until we were all abducted from Baxter Hall on the university campus. The woman with the pink pigtails is named Lovrina and the fellow over there is named Ein. Ein and Lovrina, this is Lisa Northwood, the girl I was telling you about earlier.”

“Like, I so wish I could say it’s a pleasure to meet you, but this is so not a pleasurable setting we’re in right now.”

“While I do not agree with my colleague’s grammar and speech, I must concur with her that this is not the ideal setting for getting acquainted…”

Sounds of wood clattering on the steel cage could be heard as one of the captors was slamming a clipboard on the bars. “Now that those cheerful introductions are done, it is time we introduced ourselves. My name is Lethco,” started the man, who was distinguished by the blond streak that interrupted his otherwise black hair, “and my partner there is Odlow.”

Hardly what I would consider cheerful…” the teenage trainer scoffed.

Odlow, the man with spiked brown hair, then continued. “The four of you are official prisoners of the Thrash Brotherhood. Insubordination shall not be tolerated and will be dealt with swiftly and harshly. Okay, that was the formal blurb that the boss likes. Basically, if you disobey us, we get to beat the crap out of you. That goes double for Ein since he used to boss us around! And for you ladies…”

Lethco slapped his partner across the face. “I told you, save your sick fantasies for when you’re at home!”

“Oh, come on! They’re prisoners, what can they do against us anyway? It’s not like they can sic their Pokémon on us!”

“My point is, I’m sure Chief Tony wants us to maintain a modicum of professionalism while on the clock…”

Seeing that the guards were distracted, Lisa whispered to her three fellow captives, “I have my Pokémon in my coat pocket. They’re in an inside pocket, so the thugs overlooked them when they searched me after my capture. Perhaps they could help us escape, but I don’t dare try anything with more than one guard present.”

“Excellent, but may I suggest we don’t make a move unless our lives are in danger. After all, the longer we remain here, the more we may be able to learn about these people,” replied Dr. Sequoia.

“A wise decision,” added Ein. “We may as well make the most of our captivity here.”

“Sounds like a plan,” agreed the young girl.

“Hey! Shut up in there! Here’s dinner!” shouted Odlow as he threw four tiny bags of Chex Mix into the cell. “And we’re here all night, so don’t even try to play hero! Then again, without your Pokémon, what CAN you noobs do against us?”

Lisa breathed a sigh of relief. “At least they didn’t overhear us…

After eating their meager meal, the four imprisoned brainiacs decided to get some sleep on the hard concrete floor. They wouldn’t be able to make any move that night, not with two guards on duty.
**********

“Excellent work, Tony. Now that our biggest threat is out of the picture, there is nobody to oppose us except for a gang of loser pirates that I’m sure Exol and Naps will eliminate in short order. I want you to show our prisoners what they’re up against. Present ‘IT’ to the whole lot of them. After seeing it, hopefully they will realize the futility of standing against us. Those fools will no longer be a threat, so I see no harm in revealing ‘IT’ to them. Now, you two, fetch my father, then you may retire to your sleeping chambers for tonight. I need to have a little heart-to-heart with family.”

As Bart Sy’s companions left the room, the leader’s father stepped in.

“Father… or should I say, Thomas… I am most displeased. As you know, I am not tolerant of failure. I strongly suggest that you do not screw things up again, or you will be punished!”

“How DARE you speak to me like that! I am your father!” roared Tommy.

“Shut your damn mouth, servant!” the arrogant son barked. “If it was not for me, you would still be rotting in prison! Hell, you should be bowing before me and kissing my feet! I used MY money to bribe some of the parole board members for you, and I sent MY thugs to intimidate the rest of them, all so you could get a shot at revenge! I don’t give a damn if you are my father, you are MY employee and you will abide by MY policies!”

The old man was steaming mad at his ungrateful son. “To hell with you! I don’t see why I shouldn’t quit!”

“Because if you do,” Bart Sy warned, pulling out an AK-47, “you will not leave this room alive. Submit to me, or perish!”

“Do you honestly think you’re the only one with a gun here?” Tommy retorted, taking out a Glock pistol and aiming it at his superior.

“And do you honestly think I wouldn’t be wearing protection?” sneered his son, opening his cloak to reveal thick body armor. “This armor isn’t going to be penetrated by a mere handgun, fool! Now, I will give you one last chance to submit to my rule. I suggest you carefully consider your options.”

“Fine, whatever! I only joined your little club so I could get a shot at Lisa. And believe me, next time, she WILL pay!”

“We already have her in captivity. However, I may be inclined to let you have a shot at her, depending on how your next mission goes. I need you to go to the city south of here, brew up a few Molotov cocktails, and completely destroy the gym there. The leader has been snooping a little bit too close to this facility, and we cannot afford that. Make sure you succeed. Now, move out!”

“Fine,” Tommy conceded as he walked out of the office. Once outside, he muttered, “Someday, son, you will pay for disrespecting me!” as he got into his black Scion SUV.
*********

The four captives were awakened the next morning by their captors. Lethco tossed them some bagels wrapped in plastic. Odlow added, “Enjoy them things dry, suckers! Hahahahaha!”

A third scientist, this one a shorter man with clean red hair, then entered the room. “Tony said he needs you in “D” wing. Acrod and Snidle are on their way to relieve you. I’ll keep watch until they arrive.”

“All right, we are off. Come along now, Odlow,” Lethco replied as the two of them left the room. After they left, the third man approached the cell.

“I apologize, Lovrina, but I am still unable to get promoted to where I can operate the cage with my ID card.” The man then noticed Lisa giving him and the pink-haired girl some confused looks. He explained, “Sorry for the confusion, but I’m actually a double agent working under Lovrina. Tekot’s the name, and unfortunately I haven’t been able to do that good of a job. I didn’t even hear of the kidnapping plot, and I don’t know what’s going on in “D” wing. As a low-level researcher, I’m not privy to that information.”
\
“That’s fine, Tekot, because you still so get an A for effort.”

“Thank you, Lov… Um, don’t talk back to me unless you want to get hit upside the head!” The little man’s change in behavior was sudden, caused by the arrival of four scientists.

Odlow and Lethco were among them but there were also two scientists that Lisa did not recognize. One of them began, “Hey, Tekot, there’s a ninety-seven percent chance that the boss is changing plans slightly and an eighty-four percent chance that he wishes for our prisoners to see the fruits of his labor. So, the odds are sixty-two percent that we should shackle them and lead them to ‘IT’ inside its holding chamber.”

“Ah Snidle, always with the statistics, huh? Okay then, agreed,” Tekot replied as the fourth man, who was Acrod by process of elimination, swiped his card to open the huge steel door. The group of five men then proceeded to reattach the shackles to the four prisoners. For some reason, the spiked-haired Odlow removed Lisa’s coat and tossed it in a corner of the cell.

Leading the four prisoners down the hallway single file, the five scientists were completely silent. Odlow was positioned next to Lisa. He stealthily moved his hand toward the girl’s chest, but she reacted by snapping at him with her teeth. In response, the man slapped her across the face. Quickly recoiling, she jerked her head back toward the attacker. Her bruised and swollen face now wore a scowl and eyes that seemed to radiate intense hatred. Through gritted teeth, Lisa muttered, “Don’t you DARE try to violate me!”

“You better know your damned role, you pathetic excuse for a human! You do not dare disrespect ME in any way!” Odlow hissed.

“You two, keep it down or both of you will be punished!” sternly warned Lethco.

Upon the conclusion of their march through the laboratory, the group arrived at a darkened room. The Thrash head scientist, Tony, was there to greet them.

“Welcome to the infamous “D” wing, where I would like to introduce you to the key to our operations here and the underlying subject behind all of our research. I feel like I can safely show you this now since you will not leave this laboratory alive. But, enough chatter. I shall present to you something that is both beautiful and terrifying all at once. It is a creature, a tool, and an object of extreme power! I present to all of you… IT!”

Tony pressed a button on the wall, and a huge gray door began to slowly slide open. Lisa was completely in awe as she saw what was concealed behind that door.

The room contained a huge sphere made up of sizzling red energy beams, exactly a large scale version of the force field that Maxie had trapped Lisa within back at Mount Lexin. But this high-tech cage contained something much bigger.

A gigantic bird, of a brilliant, almost blinding yellow color, stood in the energy field. Its large, pointed wings were wrapped around its body in the confined space. Its body wore many scars and bruises, testament to the brutal treatment that it had received during its captivity. The normally majestic creature simply had nowhere to move within its cramped prison. Its head was just as jagged and pointed as its wings, with two thin, sleek black eyes and a long, thin beak. It stood almost motionless, as if the energy had been drained out of it. Those eyes, which would normally have featured a determined look, instead wore a forlorn, exhausted expression, and it appeared that the avian Pokémon’s thin legs and talons were about ready to give way. Occasionally though, electric sparks could be seen emanating from its body.

Whoa… I’ve never seen a Pokémon so huge and imposing! But it’s definitely in serious pain right now! A creature like that deserves to be free, not sitting in a force field…” Lisa thought to herself as she gazed at the huge creature in awe.

Tony let out a boastful laugh. “Hahahaha! Witness the form of the legendary and once elusive bird of thunder, Zapdos! But, thanks to Cipher’s special capturing device, we were able to strip the Pokémon of its power, harnessing its energy for use for our other projects.”

“How did you manage to trap something so powerful?” Dr. Sequoia demanded.

“Ah, my poor, simple professor. Let me explain. When Cipher was active in the Orre region, some might recall that they had some legendary Pokémon among their Shadow Pokémon. But as you know, it is not so easy to capture them. Despite what some newbie trainers might believe, you can’t just go onto route 501, see a Zapdos, throw a Pokéball at it, and expect to be successful. So, in order to harness their power, Cipher deemed it necessary to drain most of that energy. Hence, the special capture orbs which you see here. They are constructed so that they can absorb an infinite amount of energy, so no matter how hard the target tries to break free, they will not be able to do so. As per the law of the conservation of energy, that energy can be drawn from the capture orb, converted and transferred to another location, and be put to other uses. For example, the electrical energy from Zapdos is powering this entire laboratory.”

“You may be able to drain its energy, but you can’t change its will!” Lisa hissed.

“Ah, so naďve and also so pathetic. That will not be an issue with our lab’s other innovation- a Pokémon mind control device! When completed and activated, this device will send out energy waves, altering the brainwaves of any Pokémon within range. Wild, trained, even legendary – it will control them all. With it in use, all Pokémon will obey only us! They will be our slaves and heed our every command without fail! A most ingenious plan, am I right?”

“No, it’s horribly unethical and cruel!” Lisa spat.

“Silence! For a girl who is supposedly a great math genius, you seem to be ignorant of the great science behind this! For years I have dedicated myself to investigating how Pokémon brainwaves work. From that research, I have found a specific brainwave that meets three properties. First, all Pokémon, regardless of species, possess this brainwave within their cerebral system. Second, only living creatures classified as Pokémon have it. No other living organism, human or otherwise, posses this particular brainwave. Third, it is directly involved in Pokémon obedience and loyalty. As you know, some Pokémon naturally show loyalty to a pack, swarm, or sometimes, an alpha-Pokémon, while others are more solitary. As far as trained Pokémon, you know that sometimes a trainer-Pokémon team can get along from the start, while others need lots of time to develop that rapport. And still other teams never achieve cohesion; there is always some degree of strife between trainer and Pokémon.”

After taking a break to grab a drink from a nearby coffee mug, Tony continued. “All of these effects are caused by the aforementioned brainwave. And our mind control device emits radio waves that interfere and alter that brainwave so the Pokémon declare complete loyalty to any and all commands given out using the device’s control panel. From that panel, we can direct large-scale assaults on a city, direct large numbers of Pokémon to a specific location, and many other uses. We are also working on similar devices that are portable and can be used by Thrash field members to take control of the minds and wills of smaller numbers of Pokémon for their use. The possibilities are endless!”

“You… you’re horrible!” the teenager uttered.

“I shall take no more of your insolence! You are too ignorant to realize when you are in the presence of true genius! Guards, take the prisoners back to their cells!”
************

Back in captivity, Lisa’s mind was racing. “Mind control, brainwave manipulation, energy drains… Thrash certainly has the technology, unfortunately. Apparently they also have the mindset to use it for truly evil purposes…” She then spoke up, “Hey guys, what do you think this all means for the future of Pokémon?”

Ein, who was laying down, simply muttered, “I would rather try to get some rest rather than think about that now. It brings back too many memories of my days with Cipher, and not the happy-go-lucky kind, either. I have lived a life of sin and regret…”

“Even though I’m not quite so emo, I like so have to agree, since I’ve done stuff that has been totally like, not nice and stuff. I so don’t want to bring those memories back…”

“Oh, sorry…”

The two guards then piped in. “So, you want to forget about all the contributions you made to Cipher, all the great advancements you made in Shadow Pokémon development?” asked Acrod.

“Yeah, I figured there was only a twenty-four percent chance of you two returning to Cipher under your own will, and a forty-one percent chance of you actually sharing your new research with us. Therefore we calculated that the necessity to kidnap you and drag you here was at an astonishing eighty-five percent. That said, I personally fear there is a seventy-nine percent chance you will still continue to refuse our offers,” added Snidle, throwing in his usual mindless mass of numbers.

Acrod again interjected, “Honestly, I don’t know where he gets those numbers. Well, they say that the vast majority of statistics are made up… Anyway, point is, we had to kidnap you to get you to do research for us. Don’t take it personally, we’re just grunts.”

“Yeah, whatever,” muttered Ein as he curled up and attempted to get to sleep.

The three women continued to talk among themselves quietly as their male cellmate snoozed. The two guards were soon engrossed in a Nintendo DS game, though both complained about not being able to get a Wi-fi signal in the remote location.

“I mean, is that even possible? Can a single brainwave be manipulated so as to gain complete control of a Pokémon’s mind?” queried Lisa.

“I hate to admit it,” Dr. Sequoia conceded, “but if it were any other scientist, I would doubt it. But Tony is an incredible genius; he was a graduate student at Fourtix University before quitting to join Thrash. He was very articulate and knew his stuff forward and backwards. Some thought he would get full tenure as a professor at the university. But for whatever reason, he chose to use his studies to manipulate Pokémon in unethical ways, and so the university wanted no part of him. I had him for a class once. Very intelligent man, though even in his days as a graduate teaching assistant, he was cold and uncaring. But still, he’s just so smart that it would be foolish to doubt him.”

“I so have to agree,” Lovrina added. “I took a class from him right before he left, and the man is like, so smart and stuff. In fact, he is so part of the reason why I worked with Cipher; his research on Pokémon brain control was so interesting. Like, totally interesting.”

“Well, of course, this doesn’t bode well for anyone then. I don’t want to lose my Pokémon to a mind-control machine, and I’m pretty sure nobody else wants to either. I still wonder what that captured Zapdos has to do with all of this, though.”

With his back still facing the other three, Ein commented, “My guess is it is there to give the mind control apparatus a test subject. If it is successful in controlling Zapdos, the boss will likely give the go-ahead to continue development. Now please, I am trying to sleep.”

But how does all this even relate to Shadow Pokémon?” Lisa wondered.

After while, drowsiness began to overcome even the overlying feeling of dread and the three ladies drifted off to sleep.

The next morning, the quartet of captives awoke to a different pair of guards. The original duo, Odlow and Lethco, now stood watch. The two scientists took some hard candy and granola bars from their pockets and threw them into the cell. “Here’s breakfast. Enjoy!” they sneered.

Ein was pondering some deep thoughts off in a corner. Meanwhile the other three tried to divide their minimal food as evenly as possible. All the while, the two guards dove into their food – consisting of scrambled eggs, sausage, and waffles, hand delivered by the double agent scientist, Tekot.

Lisa whispered to her fellow captives, “I think the time to escape is now. Is that acceptable to everyone?”

The others nodded in agreement. The youngest of the four then continued, “Lovrina, if you can get your spy to somehow get one of those men out of here, I can sneak over to my jacket and get one of my Pokémon ready to strike the other guy.”

“Right!” whispered the pink-haired girl as she made a series of covert hand gestures to Tekot while the other two scientists were preoccupied.

The redheaded man made a hand gesture back to Lovrina before leaving the room.

Lovrina whispered to Lisa and Dr. Sequoia, “Tekot just indicated that he’s so gonna try to cause a disturbance so there’s only like one guard left in here. I so hope that this works.”

Only giving her a nod, Lisa began inching her way over to where her purple coat – and Pokéballs lay.

In a few minutes, right on cue, a message came on the PA system. “Researcher Lethco, you are needed in Lab 243 immediately. A situation has come up that requires your attention…

“Well, looks like I’m needed. Just don’t do anything stupid!” Lethco warned as he walked out of the room, leaving his partner as the sole guard.

It’s now or never… I hope this works!” thought Lisa as she readied her Pokémon to strike at the remaining guard.

Chapter 29: A Meeting of Minds

“Now it’s time for me to have some fun!” Odlow sneered, as he used his swipe card to open the cage.

Unfortunately for him, Lisa had made her way to her jacket and had her hand around a Pokéball, waiting for the right moment to pounce.

“Lisa, are you ready for some… hey, what are you digging for in there?! Get your damn hand out of that pocket!”

“With pleasure!” Lisa replied, throwing the ball into the air and releasing her Persian. “Now, Water Pulse and Thunderbolt on that man to knock him cold!”

Odlow attempted to fumble for his own Pokéball, but the wave of rippling blue water, sparking with yellow electric bolts, reached the man first, sending massive amounts of electric current coursing through his body. The man fainted and fell to the floor.

“Thanks, Persian. I owe you one,” Lisa said softly as she petted her cat Pokémon.

“Our Pokémon are so in that glass case over there,” Lovrina advised. “Can your Persian break through it?”

“Looks like we won’t need to,” Ein said, pointing to a card-swipe machine next to the case where many Pokéballs were clearly visible. “Let’s try this.” The man picked up Odlow’s ID card and ran it though the card reader. The front panel of the container swung open like a door and the former prisoners were able to retrieve their prized Pokémon.

Lisa then saw the fallen Thrash scientist shaking water from his hair as he attempted to get up. “Hey guys, he’s getting up! Y’all better hurry!”

“I’ve got this all taken care of!” Throwing a Pokéball, Lovrina yelled, “Everyone, cover your ears! Delcatty, use Sing Attack!”

The others did as instructed and Persian retreated into her trainer’s Luxury Ball as another feline Pokémon emerged from Lovrina’s sphere. The yellow-colored cat had distinctly pointed ears, with purple accents on its ears, the back of its head, and on its neck. Its single tail waved gently from side to side as the Pokémon unleashed a sustained melodic mewing sound. The soothing sound immediately put the thug back to sleep. Lovrina quickly recalled the Pokémon as she and the others bolted out of the room. They were headed back to the Zapdos holding room when two scientists, Acrod and Snidle, stopped them.

“How is this possible? There was only a fifteen percent chance that you should have been able to escape! No matter, the combined strength of Acrod and myself is seventy-four percent more than you can muster. Therefore there is a ninety-nine percent chance that we will beat you in battle and an eighty-three percent chance that we will be given a promotion, with our pay going up a whopping four hundred seventy percent!”

Acrod simply sighed. “Double Battle, two Pokémon each, I choose Cacturne.”

Snidle replied, “I have an eighty percent chance of victory if I lead off with Magneton! Go!”

As their two Pokémon appeared for battle, Lovrina turned to Lisa and Ein. “Amy and I can so take these two. You two go on ahead and see what you can do about Zapdos. Like, totally get going now!”

“Right!” the teen answered as she and the older man ran down the corridor, leaving their companions to deal with the other two.

Arriving at the room, they found the door containing Zapdos was closed tight. But then Lisa noticed something. Out of pure carelessness, the control for the containment device was in plain sight, concealed behind a glass plate. The girl recalled the incident on Mount Lexin, where Shelly had freed her simply by destroying the controller. She relayed this information to Ein, before smashing through the glass with a paperweight from a nearby desk. An alarm began to sound, but the girl was unnerved. After all, she had just been through something much more nerve-wracking. She quickly smashed the control device on the floor.

Just then, a deafening explosion occurred from behind the steel door, blowing it away as if it were made of paper. It was impossible to see what was happening to the captured bird through the blinding light and thick smoke. Lisa and Ein quickly ducked behind a desk to avoid the debris and shrapnel from the blast. After a few seconds, but what seemed like hours, the dust settled and a loud squawking sound could be heard. When they peered up from behind their cover, they saw Zapdos, completely re-energized, with its majestic yellow spiked wings spread wide. It now stood confidently on its talons, staring directly at Lisa and the remains of the control device in her hand. The bird’s eyes now wore the confident, determined look befitting a creature of such grace and power.

Having drawn and recharged its electrical power from the destroyed energy field, Zapdos was now ready to make its escape, but one task for it remained. It sent one electric blast to a huge machine in the corner of the room, causing it to explode and ignite into flames. Then the enraged legendary launched another massive Thunderbolt to the roof, tearing open a hole in it. Giving one final glance at the young girl that had freed it, Zapdos took to the skies as it made its escape, creating huge gusts as it flapped its wings to gain altitude. Within a few seconds, it had disappeared into the blue sky.

Lisa and Ein had not been the only ones to witness this escape. Responding to the alarm, Tony and Lethco arrived just as the machine was getting fried by the legendary bird of thunder.

“Damn you! How dare you destroy my beautiful mind control device- a work of pure genius- and release my most prized capture!”

Ein sneered, moving his left hand to his face and stroking his stubble-filled chin. In an arrogant but calm voice, the bespectacled man began, “Pure genius? Please. You’re more like a wannabe. Would a true genius only have a 3.96 GPA? If I recall, you only got a B in MATH 407, Analysis of Number Theory, when we both had that class.”

“Th- That was none of my fault! That Dr. Franks is impossible to learn from!” Tony defended.

“Please, I got an A in that course, no problem. Maybe if you weren’t goofing off with your frat buddies and getting so drunk or stoned or loaded or whatever the heck it is you guys did, you might have gotten an A as well. And don’t disrespect Dr. Gertrude Franks; she is one of the most prolific mathematicians around!”

“But she was seventy years old and could barely hear or see!”

“That shouldn’t matter. You did not appreciate the opportunity of being taught by a true expert. You should have just taken Dr. Park; that man hands out As like any idiot could get one. But I digress. Lisa, you graduated from a college in the US. What was your GPA?”

“4.0, and I graduated at age thirteen,” Lisa smiled, confidently smirking and folding her arms across her chest.

“You! Lethco! What was your GPA when you graduated?”

“Umm... 4.0, sir!” Having worked for Ein previously, he was still clearly intimidated by his old boss.

Stroking his chin again, Ein continued, “Let’s do some simple math here. Lethco graduated with a 4.0 GPA. Tony, you only had a 3.96. Last time I checked, 4.0 was better than 3.96. So, by all accounts, shouldn’t Lethco be the boss and YOU be the assistant?”

“You know, he has a point there…” Lethco began.

Tony’s dark brown face was showing definite hints of red and his face had transformed into an angry scowl. The normally calm and collected scientist had finally snapped under Ein’s insults to his intelligence. “Shut up! No more crap about GPAs! Lethco, get yo’ lazy butt over here and help me take down these two smug little haters!”

Ein turned to Lisa. “Blast. My battle team is engineered for battles by myself, not with a partner. Suppose I have no choice though. But do not drag me down or get in my way.”

“Okay,” she replied, but thought to herself, “Me, bring him down? He certainly is cocky, isn’t he?
**********

Snidle looked on with his mouth gaping open as his final fallen Pokémon returned to its holding device. “How… There was only supposed to be a four percent chance of our loss… Dah! My statistics are causing a nervous breakdown!” he yelled, clutching his head as if he had the mother of all migraines.

“Forget about it! We have to alert the boss!” Acrod interjected as he grabbed his partner’s arm. As both lab-coat wearing men fled, a third met up with the two female escapees. But this researcher was friend, not foe.

“Miss Lovrina,” the redheaded Tekot began, “we must make haste to the “D” wing where Zapdos is! I have a feeling Ein and that other girl may have met up with some resistance! Before I ran out to meet you, Tony and Lethco heard a huge explosion coming from that area and ran off to investigate!”

“You are so right! Let’s so get going!” With that, the three ran down the hallway to meet up with Ein and Lisa.
***********

Tony’s speech had become much less professional since he snapped under Ein’s pressure. “Now you fools are gonna pay! Time to show you what the power of science can do! Omastar! Get those losers!” The head scientist wore a familiar bazooka device on his arm, from which his Pokéball was launched.

“Now you’re gonna get it. I almost feel sorry for the horrible beatdown you’re about to get, but whatever. Magneton, attack!” Without the spiffy Pokéball launcher, Lethco had to be content with merely throwing the ball.

“I trust that you will follow my lead when sending out Pokémon, so we can have some semblance of strategy,” Ein whispered to Lisa. Turning to his former classmate and former assistant, Ein then commanded, “Rhydon, go!”

Lisa knew exactly what sort of strategy her partner was planning. “I call out Weezing!”

The two mad scientists summoned two Pokémon of science. One, the triple magnet electric type, used its horseshoe-shaped appendages to stay afloat, looking intently at Ein and Lisa with all three of its eyes. Its gray form was emitting mysterious sounds. The other creature was one out of the past. A large spiral-shaped white shell rested on the Pokémon’s blue, tentacled body. Below its two large eyes was a white circle with a black cross extending across it. Upon closer inspection, that circle was actually a mouth, with four white “teeth” waving about. Its many short blue tentacles wiggled in a similar fashion.

Facing these two was Lisa’s toxic purple orb, releasing puffs of smoke while eyeing her two opponents with her half-closed eyes. Her partner in the battle was going to be Ein’s giant stone-gray mammal. Standing on its hind legs, the massive armored rhino-like creature waved its huge tail about. The dangerous horn on its face was aimed directly at its two foes. It smiled tauntingly as it stomped both feet on the floor, shaking up the room a bit.

“Omastar, use Bubblebeam to douse Rhydon!” commanded the dark-skinned Tony.

“Weezing, block those bubbles then use Smog on Omastar!”

Lethco bellowed, “Electrocute Weezing!”

Calmly, Ein said, “An Earthquake shall do wonders.”

The odd, spiral-shelled sea-dweller opened its circular mouth to release a flurry of crystal-clear bubbles. The two-headed Poison type interjected herself between the stream and her horned partner, outputting small chunks of slime to pop most of the projectiles and reducing the intensity of the strike. After absorbing a vastly weakened Bubblebeam, the toxic Pokémon released a foul-smelling purple cloud from her vent holes, blanketing the ancient antagonist with a sinister veil of fog.

Magneton began to generate yellow sparks with its horseshoe-shaped appendages as it prepared a vicious electric strike. When it launched the attack, however, it ended up being drawn away from its intended target and toward the huge horn on Rhydon. The massive gray beast took the attack in stride. Completely unaffected by the electricity, the hulking creature jumped into the air before crashing down, cracking the floor and severely shaking up both foes. The force of the impact interfered with the magnetic waves that would normally keep the steely Electric-type afloat, causing it to fall to the ground and allowing it to take a severe hit.

“As I said before,” Ein taunted, “you were never able to best me at anything. What makes you think this battle will be any different? Earthquake again!”

“Don’t insult me, Ein! Omastar, Constrict Weezing so you can get a clear shot at Rhydon with Bubblebeam!”

The resurrected creature extended two of its blue tentacles, ensnaring the floating Weezing. While it had the toxic Pokémon under wraps, it delivered a stream of bubbles that seemed to do a number on the armored rhino. The creature howled in pain as the attack struck, causing it to topple over. Afterward, Omastar used its tentacles to hurl Weezing toward a wall. To ensure that the Pokémon hit the wall with even greater force, the linked trio of magnets rammed its body into the purple creature, sending her careening.

These guys are gonna be tough…” Lisa thought. “Weezing, are you still able to battle? Okay, we’ll try giving another dose of Smog to Omastar!”

“Don’t let her get the shot off!” shouted Lethco.

Although the Electric-type attempted to charge in at its poisonous foe, Weezing was just a bit faster, and released a toxic smoke cloud that loomed over the ancient shelled Pokémon, before descending over its target. After withstanding the hit, Omastar shot out another watery assault at Rhydon, who was still attempting to get up after the last hit. But once again, a certain two-headed floating Pokémon ran interference, allowing her partner to get itself back in the fight..

“Nice try, but now I’ll show you what separates a true genius from a poser. Rhydon, give ‘em an Earthquake!”

Lisa quickly commanded, “Weezing, I’ll need you to make sure Rhydon gets protection again!”

“It won’t work this time!” Tony shouted. “Restrain that Weezing with Wrap!”

Once again, the reborn fossil shot out its slippery blue tentacles in an attempt to trap its poisonous opponent, but the floating Pokémon drew air into her expandable body, causing the orb-like creature to gain altitude and float out of range of her foe’s attack. Since it also was able to levitate, Magneton pursued Weezing, but a surprise Earthquake from the rocky rhino grounded it and shook up its partner as well, while Rhydon’s own ally felt nothing from the blow. This was the last call for the triple magnet Pokémon, as it was completely spent. As a beam of red energy engulfed it, Lethco already had his next Pokéball at the ready.

What else do these guys have to use against us?” wondered Lisa.

“You’ll pay for that! Kadabra, get them!”

The thin yellow Pokémon materialized on the battlefield. Its pointed head sported a thick moustache of a pale shade of yellow. Its thick tail waved in perfect rhythm with the bent head of the silver spoon that it held in its left hand. Its appearance was greeted with a nasty glob of purple sludge to the face. As the yellow mustached Pokémon wiped off the sticky poison, Weezing got more physical, slamming her rubbery violet body into her opponent.

“Take that thing down!” commanded Lethco as he pointed to the double-headed Pokémon that had gotten two surprise hits on his own combatant.

Tony added, “And shut down Rhydon with Hydro Pump!”

Lisa’s Poison-type responded by cloaking herself in a thick veil of fog. When the lanky Pokémon attempted to fire off a rainbow-colored beam of psychic energy, the ray ended up hitting only the lab’s ceiling. The cloud of smoke also threw off Omastar’s aim, as a massive stream of blue liquid only managed to hit the remains of Tony’s ruined mind control device.

“Dammit! Hit that Weezing!” Lethco ordered as his facial expression became more twisted and enraged.

Kadabra then pointed its eating utensil at its foes. Suddenly the spoon’s head began spinning rapidly, causing an air distortion around Weezing. The purple creature soon found herself blasted with invisible waves of mental energy, sending her crashing to the ground as her trainer looked on while nervously pulling on her blue dress.

“Weezing, no! Come back and rest! I’ll substitute Metang! Use Metal Claw on Kadabra!”

Although it had refused to battle a couple days ago in the lab, the chromed machine scanned both enemies with its piercing red eyes and determined that these two were tough enough to warrant its involvement. It demonstrated this fact by charging its dish-shaped body toward the thin Psychic type, both claws extended toward the Pokémon. But the wily Kadabra vanished into thin air, reappearing momentarily, this time behind Metang. Meanwhile, the rocky fossil had tried to finish its lumbering gray foe with a Bubblebeam, but the hefty beast had somehow moved fast enough to sidestep to the right to avoid the incoming watery assault.

Lisa ordered, “Nail Kadabra with Metal Claw!”

“Teleport away from that attack and use Psybeam on Ein’s Rhydon!”

The steel machine-like creature moved in toward its Psychic-type foe, but the speedy opponent vanished right before contact, reappearing behind the huge rocky beast. It then fired a concentrated, multicolored beam, taking the horned Rhydon by complete surprise. However, Kadabra was in for a taste of its own medicine, as Metang bashed the wily foe on the head with its claw, which was glowing white upon impact. At the same time, Ein’s Pokémon had gotten back to its feet and it proceeded to deliver a brutal kick to the shelled Water-type.

“I am unimpressed, Tony. You are still the same wannabe you were in college. Now, use Megahorn, Rhydon!”

Giving Ein an unflattering gesture, the lead Thrash scientist bellowed, “Damn you, Ein! I told you not to bring that up! Omastar! Make him pay!”

As the brainy yellow Pokémon eyed its steely rival, Ein’s Pokémon crept up behind it. As its horn began to glow bright white, it jabbed the pointed appendage into Kadabra’s back, sending it flying right into Metang’s clutches. After a few swipes with some silver clawed limbs, the surprised Psychic type fell on its face. But Rhydon suffered the same fate, as the ancient fossil of a Pokémon had struck it with a heavy-duty shot of water. And, while Kadabra had managed to use its mental power to get it back up, the rocky rhino was spent.

“A minor setback,” responded a surprisingly calm Ein as he removed Rhydon from the room. “But now you shall meet my Electrode! Initiate combat!”

A rather large ball emerged from the Pokéball. White on top and red on the lower half, it sported a well-defined face that smiled at the two opposing Pokémon. Surrounding its spherical form with crackling electricity, it sent the charge right toward Omastar. Lisa’s floating Pokémon backed it up with an air bending Confusion strike. The combined energy of the two attacks finally sealed Omastar’s fate.

“Crap! You’ll pay for that! Watch this, fools!” As Omastar disappeared in a flash of red energy, a second Pokéball had already been fired from Tony’s bazooka.

A small pink blob with only dots for eyes and a curved line for a mouth took its place on the lab’s floor. “Now, Transform!” The jelly-like creature suddenly turned white and began shifting form, emerging as a Metang, except with the machine’s normal blue color. “Like that little trick?” Tony asked.

Whoa… nice trick… but why couldn’t that blob imitate Metang’s shiny color?

“A Ditto? Can’t you do better?” Ein mocked, picking at some of the hairs on his chin.

The shape-shifting Pokémon and the spinning sphere Pokémon came charging at each other, making a deafening metallic clanging noise upon collision. Both combatants were stunned momentarily from the impact. Quickly recovering from the impact, both began prepping for their next attack. Ditto was creating mental energy waves around its enemy while Electrode gathered electricity surrounding its smooth body. Each Pokémon managed to hit the other simultaneously, but, once again, both easily withstood the other’s assault.

The girl yelled, “Focus on Kadabra with Metal Claw!”

The intelligent yellow Pokémon quickly used a sneaky attack, teleporting from Metang’s grasp and landing on top of the mechanical Pokémon’s head. The combined weight was enough to cause the two Pokémon to sink to the floor. As Metang moved its claws to strike the Pokémon on top of it, the elusive Kadabra teleported off of it, and the metallic combatant only managed to conk itself on the head. Thanks to its tough armor-like body, it was able to quickly regain its composure and resume its levitating.

Jeez… Slick move, though…

“You like that speed?” Lethco asked. “Well, it’s got plenty more surprises for you!”

“Now Ditto, finish those blasted losers! Use Confusion!”

“Electrode, time to blast the little faker with Thunderbolt!”

The blue imitation Metang soon found itself the victim of an attack. The large ball smirked as its assault had sent electric current coursing through its foe’s body. The faker soon regained its composure, however. Soon after, it sent an air-distorting blast toward its spherical foe, causing the Electric-type to roll around on the floor randomly, striking various walls and obstacles as the Pokémon seemingly lost control of its movements.

With a wide, wicked grin on his face, Tony taunted, “See? I told you to shut up, Ein! Now, finish it up with another Confusion!”

Unhinged, Ein replied, “Electrode, focus your mind, then strike back with Thunderbolt!”

Hearing the command, the ball finally stopped its random movement. It then sent a yellow blast of lightning toward the blue “Metang” while interrupting the opposing Pokémon’s attack. Then Electrode began another roll, but this time it traveled in a controlled path as more electric sparks began to surround its dual-colored body. The spherical Pokémon rammed into the backside of Kadabra at high speed, knocking the yellow brainiac on its face. Seeing an opening, the silver Metang gained altitude before descending rapidly, extending one of its clawed limbs and aiming it downward. The shiny machine drove its arm deep into the Psychic-type’s back, dealing a hard blow. The injured target made no attempt to get back up.

Shaking his fist in anger, the assistant scientist withdrew the injured Kadabra from battle. “Damn you two! You’ll pay for this! Nosepass, finish them!”

A short, stubby Pokémon emerged on the lab floor. Its angular form was a dull dark blue color except for a pointed red appendage that looked to be a nose. The rock-like creature’s eyes were shut, located in dark recesses found just above its “nose.” Strangely enough, it did not face its opponents directly; rather its position was offset at approximately a forty degree angle. Even more oddly, it moved by sliding across the floor while it remained facing the same direction.

“Electrode, zap Ditto while it’s struggling to get back up! Give it a full-power Thunder!”

Ein’s young female partner commanded, “Metang, Metal Claw on the newcomer!”

The perfect sphere shot numerous electric charges into the air, where they accumulated before crashing down on the blue metal machine. Upon contact, the Pokémon reverted to its pink blob form, indicating that it no longer had the energy to fight – or keep up its masquerade.

“You will pay for defeating my prized Ditto! Muk, emerge and Fire Blast the real Metang!”

The hefty mass of purple sludge that materialized featured two eyes, a gaping mouth, and two arms, but no legs. Rather, it dragged its sticky body around on the floor, leaving small globs of sludge in its wake. Layers of slime constantly dripped from its gelatinous form.

Lisa’s machine-like Pokémon moved in quickly on the big-nosed rock, slashing it with its shiny chrome claws. Metang then launched a disorienting Confusion at the pile of living sludge. Despite a direct hit, the toxic beast was able to develop flames in its mouth before spitting out a huge fireball that spread into a five-pointed pattern. This blow was particularly damaging to the metallic battler, as it crashed onto the floor and made no movements to get back up.

“Uh, oh! Metang, are you hurt? Return! I’ll have Vibrava relieve you! Go!”

As the teenage girl sent out her green flying dragon, she wondered, “If Muk can use Fire-type attacks, I wonder if Weezing can, too? Might be worth a try…

Flapping her flat angular wings rapidly, the dragonfly-like Pokémon scanned left and right with her bulging green eyes before blowing a stunning orange Dragonbreath toward the much larger Muk. Ein’s electric globe also targeted the lumbering pile of sludge with a sizzling bolt of electricity. While its foes were distracted, the crystalline Rock-type had dug a shallow hole in the floor – not for attacks but to provide it with a source of projectiles. It grabbed a couple of rocks with its flat “arms” and hurled one at each opponent, landing direct hits on both.

“Now Nosepass, Thunder Wave to slow Ein down!”

“Don’t even try it,” retorted the cool and collected researcher. “Electrode, paralyze Nosepass first!”

Compared to its recent electrical assaults, the sparks created by the red and white sphere this time were much less intense, not to mention blue in color. The charged wave surrounded the Rock-type, but seemed to have little effect on its sliding velocity. In fact, Nosepass sent out an identical blue spark, enveloping Electrode and slowing its rolling somewhat.

“Now, Muk, trap that green bug and give it a nice Body Slam!”

“Back the boss up and hit it with a Double Edge!”

Using a slimy arm, the putrid pile of poison whacked the low-flying Vibrava before throwing its weight around – right on top of the hapless Dragon-type. As Muk slowly lumbered off of its victim, its rocky partner came sliding in and knocked the smaller green creature asunder.

Uh, oh… this ain’t lookin’ good…” Lisa was pulling harder on her clothes, not to mention shaking from head to toe.

Surrounded by yellow sparks, Electrode came rolling in toward Nosepass and bashed it aside. It then sent more electric charges coursing through the purple sludge creature. This gave Vibrava the chance to recover her wits and send a cloud of mysterious orange substance toward the Rock-type aggressor. However, its partner was quick to blast the little flying Pokémon with a ball of sinister dark matter. Muk also hammered its Electric-type foe with its sticky hands before firing off some toxic slime that perfectly matched its own body color.

“It’s over!” barked Lethco, angrily pointing at his opposition. “Now, Rock Slide attack!”

“Strike back with Dragonbreath!” countered Lisa.

Nosepass retreated into its hole and emerged with another large brown rock in its thin, plate-like appendages. It proceeded to hurl the boulder at the rolling Electric-type, sending the orb spinning and crashing into a wall on the far side of the lab. Though his former lab aide was smiling wickedly at him, Ein retained the calm, stoic expression that he seemingly always wore on his face.

“It’s far from over! Mantine, it is your turn!” announced the bespectacled scientist as he called forth his next Pokémon. The giant blue stingray took to the air, flapping its broad blue wings to remain in flight. An elegant white tailfin billowed from the creature’s rear, and two sky-colored torpedo-shaped fish Pokémon were attached to the underside of its wings.

As Ein’s Pokémon emerged, the green flying Pokémon released a cloud of amber-colored smoke from her tiny mouth, enveloping the battered Rock-type. The beaten blue Pokémon spun around several times before falling on its side, but with its nose still pointing in the same direction as it had during the entire battle.

Scowling and clenching one fist, the assistant researcher called Nosepass back. “I’m done for! Chief, it’s up to you now!”

“I always have to do everything myself! Lethco, we’ll discuss this later! Now, Muk, finish this with Shadow Ball!”

Muk shot out another shadowy energy sphere. The dark matter struck and grounded the embattled Dragon-type. As the gelatinous violet mass let out a low-pitched laugh, Lisa was forced to recall the injured Pokémon.

Her head hung low, the girl held out a Pokéball. “Vibrava, that was some good work… Return and rest…”

Ein smirked as he rubbed his chin once again. “Now that the distractions are gone, it is just you and me, Tony. Now you will truly see where you fail!”

Wait… I’m a distraction?!” fumed the teenage girl as she was forced to watch the outcome of the battle.

“Shut it, Ein! Muk, Sludge Bomb that thing!”

Although the slimy creature launched its dripping purple projectile upward, Mantine was able to flap its huge wings and fly out of range of the attack. It then launched a pulsating blast of water straight downward, hitting the putrid Pokémon directly on the head. Muk then raised one of its sticky arms and proceeded to knock itself upside the head.

Shaking his fist and jumping about as if throwing a tantrum, Tony bellowed, “How dare you confuse my Pokémon! Enshroud Mantine with Poison Gas then Sludge Bomb it into submission!”

Lisa thought, “Wow… he sure lost his composure in a hurry…

“Just like in college, Tony. You act all calm and collected, but you crack under pressure. Use Gust to dissipate the gas, then go in for a Wing Attack!”

Muk finally stopped administering its own pain. Opening its gaping mouth, the lumbering pile of dripping purple sewage released a sinister purple cloud laced with toxins. The airborne aquatic Pokémon began to create a small whirlwind which effectively broke up the poisonous fog. But the winds were not enough to stop the denser slime, which exploded upon contact with the Water-type. Despite the direct hit, Mantine wasted no time in swooping in and knocking its smelly foe around with its huge blue wings. It flew away just as Muk attempted to lay the hammer down with its toxic limbs.

“Too fast for you, huh?” teased Ein. “You always were a bit slow.”

“Damn you! Damn you! Muk, hit that blasted thing with everything you’ve got! Body Slam, Sludge Bomb, Fire Blast, Shadow Ball – I don’t care as long as you GET RID OF IT!”

Now Muk was even more confused than it was under Water Pulse’s influence. As it sat there trying to decide what move to use and what to make of its trainer’s incoherent raving, it was easy fodder for another watery blast from its foe. But this time, the shot was no Water Pulse… it was larger and packed a much bigger punch, actually sending the massive pile of goo sliding across the floor and colliding with the wall. Shaking off the water, Muk spit out two dark purple projectiles. One was dripping with slime, while the other had a mysterious, haunting aura associated with it. Both attacks found their mark, sending the big flying stingray crashing down to earth – but only for a moment.

“What?! That didn’t work? Alright, Muk, prepare the Hyper Beam!”

“Evade that beam and give it another Hydro Pump!”

As it turned out, Mantine did not even need to dodge an attack. It released its own attack first, with the beam-like blast of liquid striking the poisonous Pokémon right in the face, simultaneously knocking it out and preventing the launching of its Hyper Beam.

“All right! We beat them!” cheered Lisa, letting her childlike side show through after a tough battle.

Calmly, Ein warned his younger ally, “Don’t get too comfortable. Our battle to get out of here might not be over yet.”

The defeated head scientist let out a loud, almost beast-like roar of fury. “Dammit! Lethco, it is your fault we lost to these two!”

“Hey, don’t look at me, ‘Mr. I-Only-Got-A-3.96-GPA!’ Maybe Ein was right, maybe I should be…”

In a fit of rage, Tony had punched his assistant in the face, knocking the man out. Pulling a handgun from a holster, he growled, “But now I will kill you both…”

“Not yet, Tony! Are you saying that you would deny your leader the opportunity of battling his arch nemesis?”

“No… of course not, sir!” the researcher stammered as he, as well as Lisa and Ein looked at the two tall, shadowy figures in a doorway leading to a back office.

Chapter 30: Enter the Boss! Show Him No Quarter!

“So, Lisa Northwood, we finally meet,” a low, deep voice boomed from the doorway. “I wish I could say it is a pleasure to meet you, but you have simply been a thorn in my side for far too long.”

“So, you’re the leader of this crew, huh?” yelled the girl. “Show yourself!”

“In due time. First, however, I would like to introduce my esteemed business partner. Step forward, please.”

One of the dark figures began to walk toward Ein and Lisa, his features slowly being revealed. The man had aqua-colored hair that was combed straight and extended down to the bottom of his neck. The dark sunglasses and wicked smirk gave him an intimidating, eerie appearance. He was wearing a long, gray robe with areas of blue that closely matched his hair. The mysterious man had both hands folded flat across his chest.

In a calm, reserved voice, he began, “I am named Ardos. I was the interim head of Cipher before we pooled our resources and manpower with the Brotherhood, and I am second in command in the newly formed organization. I know that you have had some correspondence with my brother, and unfortunately, that pathetic shell of a former man has brainwashed you into thinking that we are the enemy. My master shall explain to you why that is not the case.”

Finally, the enigmatic leader of the Brotherhood was ready to approach his adversaries. The man still refused to reveal his face, as he had on a pair of pitch-black shades and a red ninja-style face mask. Two bright, creepy red lights glowed from behind the shades, right where the man’s eyes would have been. A black hood covered his head, attached to the long black cloak that enshrouded his tall body. The robe was decorated with a red “T” insignia on the left breast, as well as red trim on the bottom edge and on the sleeves.

“Little girl, let me explain some facts to you before we battle. Yes, I am Bart Sy. I am the glorious leader of the Brotherhood, the man who will completely reinvent this forsaken society for the benefit of all! Allow me to explain. Tony has already revealed to you his work on Pokémon thoughts. The concept of Pokémon mind control and yes, Shadow Pokémon as well, both serve to eliminate one of the flaws in the current methodology of Pokémon battling- their hearts and spirits! Since you do not understand, I shall elaborate if you wish.”

“Fine, let’s see what your warped mind has to say, so I can have fun deconstructing and mocking it in my head! Because you are clearly off your rocker!”

“Silence, you defiant little wretch! You are aware that the varying personalities of Pokémon affect how well they are able to battle alongside their trainer. Yet, so-called “Pokémon Ambassadors” indiscriminately hand out starting Pokémon to trainers, without first making sure they are compatible. And if it turns out that trainer and Pokémon don’t get along, that’s too bad. No refunds, no returns, they’re stuck with a disobedient, obstinate little punk that they have to put up with. Many of these trainers end up simply giving up and releasing the Pokémon back into the wild, their spirits crushed.”

“Yes, that’s true, but with time, Pokémon and trainer grow closer together…”

Bart Sy continued, “In time, it is often too late! Don’t interrupt again! Now, referring back to the issue at hand, Shadow Pokémon are the perfect solution to the problem! They remove the “heart and spirit” factor from Pokémon training, ensuring complete compatibility and obedience. They will ensure that Pokémon will obey the trainer without revolting or acting out against them. Trainer quests will have fewer hassles. The results of battles will be determined purely by skill, clever use of attacks, and strength of the combatants. We will return Pokémon battling to its core elements. If we are able to remove the “heart” factor, we can return to the pure essence of Pokémon combat as a sport as glorious and brutal as the ancient Roman gladiators! This change in Pokémon training shall be akin to a rebirth of society, a modern day Renaissance!”

Lisa looked on with stunned disbelief. This guy couldn’t possibly be sane! “Th…That’s absolutely horrible! You’re turning Pokémon into mindless robots and forcing them into brutal combat?! We’re talking living, breathing creatures here!”

Clearly annoyed, the leader made one last attempt to explain his thoughts. “Pokémon serving as robots is the point! Robots may malfunction, but they will never willingly disobey or defy their owner. Same with Shadow Pokémon; they may lose a battle, but it will not be because of stubborn defiance! Which I’m sensing a lot coming from you! I’ve had it with trying to reason with you! Ardos, let us battle these two nonbelievers!”

“Right, sir! I call out Salamence!”

“And I shall lead with Poliwrath!”

While the blue tadpole was hardly small, it was easily eclipsed by Ardos’ huge teal-colored dragon. Standing on all fours and flapping its huge red wings, the massive beast whipped up small gusts as it roared loudly. With two sharp appendages atop its head, and with its long tail waving back and forth menacingly, this monster was going to b a toughie. But Lisa and Ein knew not to underestimate the other foe, either. Gazing at the two brainiacs with angry-looking eyes, it punched the air with its white gloved hands. It was impossible to stare at the swirl pattern on its stomach for too long without getting dizzy and woozy. Both men had used Thrash Pokéball cannons to unleash their battlers.

“Ready, Lisa? I’m sending out Manectric!”

“All right, then I’ll commence with Sealeo!”

The electrically charged wolf prepared bolts of energy atop its pointed yellow head. Standing on all fours, the athletic Pokémon’s movements were swift and agile. It snapped its jaws at the fighting amphibian before unloading its electrical charges on it. Manectric was accompanied by Lisa’s hefty mustached seal. Using his front flippers to maneuver his bulky blue body, the chilly water dwelling mammal slammed his tailfin on the floor repeatedly. He was met with a powerful amber-colored blast from Salamence, aimed directly at the icy Pokémon’s cream-colored underbelly.

“So, you think you can stop us? Poliwrath, Focus Punch!”

“Use Thunderbolt on that Poliwrath and give it the shock of a lifetime!”

A white light began to emerge from the amphibian’s fist as it closed its eyes. Unfortunately for it, the quick Electric-type sent a sizzling jolt of electricity toward the watery brawler, causing it to fall over on its back. The mighty dragon responded by swooping in at the statically charged wolf and swiping at the foe repeatedly. Salamence relented only after an ice-cold blast of multicolored energy struck its wings. By that time, the double-fisted water-dweller had recovered its wits. The slippery tadpole launched a rippling water assault emanating from its circular belly, targeting Manectric.

“We need to eliminate Salamence from the equation! Hit it with Aurora Beam!”

“Don’t let it get you! Hit that Sealeo with Dragon Claw!”

Though the winged terror was quick in delivering a swift and brutal claw slash, the blue seal was still able to shoot off his rainbow-colored beam, this time hitting the dragon in the face. While Salamence was still reeling from the assault, the electric mammal took advantage and zapped it with a supercharged electric bolt that came crashing down from up above. Poliwrath was ready to give its partner some assistance, slugging both of its opponents right in their faces. Lisa began to shake and fidget with her clothes as her Water-type was slow to recover from the hit. The wolf was faster in regaining its composure, and tackled the amphibian head-on with electricity crackling on the surface of its body.

Great… I don’t know who poses the bigger threat now…” Lisa shouted, “You’re doing great! Send the dragon another icy blast!”

“Poliwrath, Focus Punch that Sealeo, but be ready to knock that Manectric out of the way if it interferes!”

Once again the fighting water creature closed its eyes and prepared to unleash a powerful strike. But once again a well-aimed Thunderbolt broke its concentration. Meanwhile, Salamence was digging its claws deep into Sealeo’s thick hide. The icy sea mammal was only able to escape its grasp by beating the huge monster with his fins. As soon as he got an opening, the mustached Pokémon let loose a chilling Aurora Beam, finding his target. Unfortunately, the other Water-type also found its target, smashing its white fist into the face of its icy antagonist. It prepared to strike again, but a sizzling electric blast stopped its assault.

I’ve got good backup… now it’s my turn to help out Ein and Manectric.

“Salamence, roast that Manectric with Flamethrower, now!” commanded Ardos.

Ein simply smiled and stroked his chin. “You can dodge that easily. Continue to weaken Poliwrath; we’ll let Lisa handle Salamence for now.”

The mighty dragon opened its jaw and started to breathe an impressive stream of intense orange flame. However, its agile Electric-type target was extremely quick on its feet and jumped clear of the attack. While in midair, the wolf began charging a powerful electric attack before sending a fully energized bolt into the air. It came crashing down seconds later on an unsuspecting Poliwrath. As Manectric landed, another Flamethrower was on its way, when Sealeo appeared out of nowhere. Soaking up the searing flame in stride, the icy sea lion turned his head and blasted the oversized brute of a dragon with a brilliant ray that glistened in various bright colors.

“Good work, Sealeo! Let’s wrap this thing up!”

“You’re not even close to beating us!” barked Bart Sy. “Go for the kill! Hydro Pump!”

The brutish tadpole released a powerful stream of liquid fury. Though Sealeo tried to move in to block the hit, he wasn’t fast enough to protect Manectric. As the electric Pokémon shook off the water, the chilly seal turned around and spit out more Ice-type hurt aimed at the imposing teal dragon. After taking one for the team, the winged monster took flight. It circled the room several times before nose-diving at the Ice-type, knocking the stunned Pokémon onto his side. Lisa reacted by crying out and ripping a big chunk of her pantyhose. “Crud! How long can these two last?!

“Manectric, time to lay the hammer down. Thunder attack.”

“Victory is impossible for you. Just give up,” advised Ardos.

Confident as Ardos was, he and Bart Sy soon witnessed Poliwrath’s defeat, as the electric wolf’s last Thunderbolt was one too many for it to handle. As the whipped Water-type disappeared in a bright red glow, both Pokémon focused their attention on the larger dragon. Both Pokémon used their respective elemental attacks to blast Salamence with a destructive double whammy. Still, the huge winged monster was able to strike back, nailing both Manectric and Sealeo with a rapid-fire beam of concentrated energy.

“Arcanine, time to murder them!” roared the Thrash leader as he fired off another Pokéball. The massive orange dog growled viciously, small embers of flame dripping from its mouth. Stomping both front legs on the ground, the powerful beast’s furry white tail was violently swaying from side to side. To amp itself up for battle, this Arcanine puffed up the fur on its collar. Almost immediately it fired off a massive ball of flame. The attack spread out into a flaming star formation as it torched Manectric.

“My master doesn’t play around, fools! Salamence, annihilate them with Dragon Claw!”

“Sealeo, time to stop their assault! Use Water Pulse on Arcanine!” Lisa instructed, raising her index finger at the firebrand.

The onslaught of icy attacks had an effect on the once fearsome dragon. It was visibly shaking and shivering and hesitated to prep its strike. This gave the sparking wolf plenty of time to zap the winged foe down with a massive lightning strike. Even taking a direct shot wasn’t enough to finish off the battle-weary Salamence, though it was slow in rising to its feet.

The big canine was surprisingly agile given its weight, and easily jumped clear of Sealeo’s stream of blue water. Ignoring the chilly foe, the fire-breathing brute blasted Manectric with a continuous shot of orange fire. The blue and yellow creature rose to its feet and howled loudly. Soon enough, rain clouds moved in and a steady rain began to fall inside the lab’s ruined holding chamber.

Lisa sulked as her dress slowly became soaked with water. “Crud… and me without my parasol…

Seeing that the Electric-type still hadn’t gone down, Arcanine got more physical, rushing headlong at the Pokémon with the pointed head. The strike knocked the smaller wolf to the floor. Ein realized that his Pokémon was spent, and removed it from combat.

Remaining calm, Ein responded, “I see. So that’s the way you want to play this. Fine then. Crobat, go!” He unleashed a lightweight flying Pokémon on his opponents. Giving the opposition a menacing glare with its mesmerizing yellow eyes, the bat Pokémon rapidly flapped two pairs of wings – one of them emerging from the lower part of its smooth purple body. Whipping up a strong wind, it sent an air-splitting blast at Arcanine, ruffling up the dog’s fur quite a bit.

“Salamence, time to end this. Use Hyper Beam on Crobat!”

Lisa countered, “Salamence is getting worn out. Knock it out with an Aurora Beam!”

The winged beast got off one last attack, blasting the purple flying Pokémon with a concentrated beam of supercharged energy. In doing so, however, it was left completely open to one final shot from the blue Ice-type, which was too much for even a creature as powerful as Salamence. Ardos was preparing his next Pokémon as Crobat and Arcanine exchanged long-range Flamethrower and Sludge Bomb attacks.

Finally that monster Salamence is down… but who’s next?

“Ready for this?” the blue-haired man asked as a Pokéball came flying from the bazooka attached to his arm. The creature that emerged was a frail-looking yellow Pokémon with a distinctive moustache. Lifting its pointed head upward, it revealed a brown covering over its torso. Wiggling the twin points on top of its head slightly, the creature held both its hands high, light reflecting off its two spoons. Immediately it charged one of its fists with crackling electricity and gave Sealeo a quick, powerful punch. The hefty sea mammal toppled onto his side and made no attempt to right himself.

Quivering and nervously pulling at her already ruined hosiery with one hand, the girl called back her Pokémon. “No! Come back, Sealeo! You’ve done well, and you deserve a break. In your place, I call out Jolteon!” Lisa pitched her next Pokéball into the fray.

A yellow Pokémon with spiked fur appeared on the lab floor. With the pointed hair sparking with electricity, the creature focused his sleek black eyes on Alakazam, who had already proven itself skilled with electric attacks. Jolteon actually crouched down, ready for a quick assault. He showed off his agility, circling the thin Psychic-type several times before moving in and sinking his small teeth into the Pokémon’s delicate-looking body. Alakazam could only react by whacking its attacker on the head.

“Morons! Do you really think you can defeat us? Arcanine, incinerate them both with the flames of hell! Fire Blast!” hissed the boss.

“Your ‘flames of hell’ are going to be snuffed out by the rain,” Ein pointed out. “Crobat, fire a Sludge Bomb toward Alakazam but watch out for Psychic-type retaliation!”

Just as Ein had advised, the star-shaped fire assault was releasing steam and slowly dissipating as the rain continued to snuff it out. Though the attack did hit Jolteon, it was so weakened that the Electric-type took it in stride. The agile purple flyer prepared a heaping pile of toxins inside its mouth before spitting out the putrid ball of concentrated poison. Striking the Psychic-type in the face, the bat had succeeded in temporarily blinding its opponent. As Alakazam wiped off the gunk, Crobat took advantage, sinking its fangs into the foe’s yellow body. Meanwhile, electricity met soaking orange fur as a certain fiery hound was zapped.

“Ein, you always were one of Cipher’s best battlers. It is a shame you turned spineless and betrayed us. Now you will pay the price. Alakazam, blast Crobat out of the sky!”

“My only regret was working with you freaks,” Ein countered. “Now, it’s time to finish off Alakazam!”

Crobat attempted to do as it had before, but its intelligent opponent was on to that tactic. It vanished in a flash of light seconds before the Sludge Bomb would have made contact. The wily Pokémon then reappeared on top of the flying Pokémon, causing both to succumb to the law of gravity. Alakazam emerged on top, its feet firmly planted on the bat’s larger pair of wings. From this vantage point, the sneaky yellow Pokémon held both spoons high, focusing its mental energy before blasting the immobile purple Poison-type with the invisible waves of power. It finally released the bat thinking it was spent, but was taken by surprise as Crobat quickly took back to the air.

I’ve seen that trick before…

“While it’s still raining, electrocute Arcanine again!”

“Don’t let it get the shot off!” barked Bart Sy, pointing at the electrified foe. “Extremespeed then Crunch!”

With alarming speed, the dog ran in and knocked over Jolteon. Turning around quickly, the dog leaped high into the air, teeth bared. Sinking its jaws into the yellow creature’s back, the fiery monster growled confidently. But there was a surprise waiting. Jolteon gathered sparks on the surface of his body, sending massive amounts of electric current coursing through the body of the large canine. It was forced to release its grip, allowing the quick Electric-type to distance himself from the larger enemy before blasting it with more electricity. Just then, the steady rain faded and the dark gray clouds overhead began to break up.

There goes one advantage…” The teen advised, “Watch it, it’s probably going to start playing with fire again! Try to zap it one more time while its fur is still damp!”

“Not a chance, little girl,” Ardos sneered. “Back up the boss’s Arcanine with a Psychic blast!”

The fast yellow Electric-type fired off a sizzling bolt of lightning seconds before being struck with invisible mental energy. Though the Psychic attack knocked Jolteon to the floor, his electric blast did give the firebrand some shock treatment. In the midst of the action, the flying purple bat struck the spoon-wielding foe with concentrated poison before moving in close and whacking Alakazam silly with its wings. Shaking off its recent electric attack, as well as the remaining water from its fur, Arcanine followed up with a burning Flamethrower that blasted both of the opposing Pokémon.

“Wahahahahaha! You losers don’t stand a chance! Arcanine, incinerate them!”

“Crobat, shut it down with Sludge Bomb and Wing Attack.”

The two Thrash Pokémon split duties, with the hairy orange mutt firing a massive fireball and scorching the Electric-type’s yellow pointed fur, while its brainy partner used its mind to bring the pain to Crobat, by messing with the flyer’s own mind. But Lisa’s spiked partner eventually recovered after the direct Overheat strike, and countered with a power-packed shot of lightning that came crashing down from above.

Seeing an opening, the purple Poison-type further compounded the dog’s hurt with a ball of slimy goop. The bat then flew in at Arcanine but failed to notice Alakazam powering up another attack. Fortunately, Jolteon performed a running tackle, knocking the wily Psychic-type over and opening up the way for Crobat to lay the smackdown on Arcanine with its wings. Standing its ground, the hothead blasted its flying adversary with its familiar five-pointed Fire Blast technique.

“Jolteon, focus on Alakazam! It doesn’t look like it can take much more!”

“Back up Jolteon. Perhaps we can take that thing down.”

Both speedy Pokémon quickly descended on an already injured Psychic-type. Before it could fully focus its mind, it found itself the victim of powerful shots of electricity and poison administered directly to the head. After the double-whammy assault, the battle- weary Alakazam finally fell on its face before being removed from combat. Angered by this, Arcanine spit out a massive ball of flame to torch and ground Crobat before running in toward both of its foes and knocking both out of its charging path. The fearsome dog then turned around and fired off a long stream of orange fire that seriously turned up the heat on both Crobat and Jolteon.

Man… that was a hard hit… I hope Jolteon is okay!

Shoving a Pokéball into the input slot of his cannon, Ardos commanded, “Slaking, emerge and destroy!”

Ardos fired off another Pokéball. This one opened to reveal an enormous hairy beast. The fat mammal appeared to be relaxing comfortably, its head resting on one of its muscular arms. Its eyes were nearly shut and the Pokémon looked as if it could go to sleep at any time. The fur on its body was in various shades of brown, with a white plume of hair around its neck. It appeared nearly motionless, only rotating its head slightly and blinking occasionally.

The teenage girl surmised, “Looks like that thing’s gonna be a toughie to take down… if it ever does anything, that is.” She commanded, “Zap Arcanine with Thunderbolt, but keep an eye on that Slaking. We don’t know what it’s capable of.”

“Oh, you’ll find out in a minute what it’s capable of,” remarked Ardos.

“Back Jolteon up with a Sludge Bomb on Arcanine.”

The spiky yellow Pokémon began building up electrical sparks on the tips of his pointed hairs before consolidating the energy into one concentrated bolt. Jolteon then aimed the powerful lightning strike right at the fiery dog. Almost simultaneously, the orange beast was slammed with a heaping pile of purple slime. Just then, the lumbering brown monster rose to its feet and delivered a brutal roundhouse kick to a stunned Electric-type.

Lisa was taken aback by Slaking’s sudden and painful attack. “Looks like when that thing gets motivated, it can pack a punch. Watch for it, Jolteon, but try to finish Arcanine off.”

“Slaking will be trouble,” realized Ein. “Crobat, we must nail it with a Sludge Bomb!”

Slaking had returned to its relaxed pose and received a face full of poison. The beast seemed to be completely unfazed by the hit, however, and Crobat was caught off guard by a searing stream of fire launched from a certain orange canine. But weakened by the last shot, Jolteon only needed to fire off one last bolt of yellow sparks at Arcanine to snuff the firebrand out.

“Blast! But now you’ll meet my pride and joy, my very first Pokémon! Pikachu, time to crush these losers!”

As the puny electric runt appeared, Lisa burst into laughter. “Wait? A Pikachu? That tiny weakling’s your trump card? What’s the matter, Wal-Mart was sold out of Thunderstones?”

Though his facial expressions were concealed behind his glasses and mask, it was clear Bart Sy took great offense to these comments. “Don’t you dare insult my Pikachu! We’ve been battling together for upwards of thirty years, and there’s no way it’s gonna lose!”

“And in all those years, you still haven’t evolved it? Oh well, your loss. Jolteon, ignore Pikachu for now, we need to focus on that mammoth. Thunderbolt it!”

Even Ein was surprised that this supposedly powerful leader would have such a cute and underpowered Pokémon at his side. “Really, though, a Pikachu doesn’t really say ‘Evil Overlord,’ now does it? Instead it says, ‘Clueless Noob,’ now am I right?”

Nice one, Ein!

“Silence, all of you! Pikachu, Volt Tackle!”

“Ha!” shouted the smirking teenager. “Jolteon, take that strike at full force then unleash a supercharged Thunderbolt on Slaking!”

“Crobat, it’s Sludge Bomb time.”

Arms still folded across his midsection, Ardos simply said, “Slaking, you know what to do.”

The yellow mouse encased its body with electric sparks before taking a running charge at the airborne Poison-type. As it leaped up to deliver the blow, Jolteon also sprang up into the air. Pikachu slammed into the side of the spiked creature and bounced off, crashing down to the floor. Now that Bart Sy’s little Pokémon had pumped up the power, the stronger Electric-type wasted no time in delivering an extra powerful blast of shocking yellow energy right to the head of the hulking mammal.

Crobat followed up with a nasty ball of purple goop that exploded on contact with the huge Slaking’s head. But the brown beast got up from its relaxed position and used its muscular legs to execute an impressive jump. Continuing to use the power of its feet, it landed a powerful midair kick to the agile bat, finally ending its run.

Once again, Ein appeared surprisingly calm as he called back his winged partner. Rubbing his chin and unwanted stubble, he said, “I see. So that’s the way it’s gonna be. Fine, then. Starmie, it is time!”

The hard-bodied, double-layered star-like Pokémon materialized. The stop-sign shaped jewel glimmered in the center of its body as the watery purple Pokémon stood on two of its points, ready for attack.

“Thunderbolt that blasted Starmie, Pikachu! Do it now!”

Does this guy honestly think his baby Pikachu can keep up in this battle?” Smirking, the girl replied, “You just never learn, do you? Block that attack for Starmie then team up for a combo blast!”

The cool-headed scientist quickly caught wind of the new game plan. “Starmie, wait for Jolteon to do its thing, then send out a Water Pulse. You’ll be getting backup.”

The spiky yellow Pokémon waited for its rodent-like electric adversary to charge up a sufficient amount of sparking energy from its red cheek marks, a process that required several seconds. Once it was finally ready, Pikachu unloaded a concentrated bolt of electricity and aimed the shot at its jeweled rival. But once again the blindingly fast Jolteon ran interference, soaking up the strike with ease.

The five-pointed aquatic creature then launched a rippling stream of blue liquid from its central core. Its spiky-haired backup then added a strong electric blast to the mix, creating a sparking beam of pulsating water that struck the lounging Slaking right in the gut. Afterward, the massive creature rose to its feet and began charging at Jolteon. And it was surprisingly quick given its considerable mass. Despite taking another Thunderbolt directly to the face, the unnerved primate delivered one carefully aimed punch, with enough power behind it to send Jolteon crashing into the wall. Lisa was panicking and tugging at her already ruined stockings, as the two Thrash leaders smiled tauntingly and started laughing.

“Jolteon, I’m sorry… time to take a break. Persian, we’re down to the wire on this equation! I know you can pull through!”

As Slaking returned to its position on the floor with its chin resting on its paw, the lightweight beige cat Pokémon quickly made her way over to the lazy brute’s location. Extending her pointed claws from her front paws, she began slashing furiously at her foe’s thick brown hide. As the feline struck the creature’s belly, her Water-type ally flooded the enemy’s face with a powerful shot of water. Unfortunately, Slaking then came to life, smashing its head against Starmie before using its belly to bump Persian asunder.

We need to keep alert and watch when that thing first starts to move… either that or stick to long-range attacks.” The girl commanded aloud, “Thunderbolt on Slaking! Don’t worry about Pikachu; it’s not much of a threat at all!”

“Dammit! Pikachu, show that damned girl your true power! Thunder!”

The electric attack came crashing from the ceiling in a concentrated yellow lightning strike. It struck Lisa’s well-groomed Pokémon, but the cat brushed it off and proceeded to lay her own shocking blast into the other opposing Pokémon, which was then followed with invisible mental energy that appeared to give Slaking a headache, courtesy of Starmie. Still, the lumbering creature sprang to life, opening its mouth wide while still laying down. A huge beam of concentrated energy emerged, landing a direct hit on the purple star-shaped Pokémon.

“Starmie, use Confuse Ray on the big one.”

“Persian, move in for a quick Aerial Ace strike, then back away!”

Clenching both fists, Bart Sy bellowed, “Not a chance! Thunderbolt the both of them, now! They must not win!”

The quick Persian moved in first, jumping high into the air before giving the big lug one blindingly fast slash to the face during the descent. The cat then performed a tricky sidestep to the right to avoid a small shot of incoming electricity. Starmie dodged a similar attack attempt before releasing a mysterious energy ray from its shimmering jewel. The attack gave off a dark aura as it circled the brown creature’s head. When Slaking finally made a move to slug Persian in the face, it gave itself a nice hard punch to the head instead.

“Dammit, Slaking, hit the target for once!” Ardos hollered, momentarily losing his cool.

“Persian, electrify a Water Pulse and nail Slaking once and for all!”

“Use Psychic,” calmly instructed the scientist.

The mystical sea Pokémon delivered an invisible blast to the lumbering monster first, overwhelming it with mental waves. It was followed up with a classic combination attack – a rippling beam of water ringed with yellow electric sparks. This also attack also made contact, as the lounging Slaking just remained there, head resting on its hand.

“Now, Mega Kick!” commanded the former Cipher admin who hadn’t turned good.

The massive creature rose to its feet before getting a running start. It jumped in the air with its foot extended, delivering devastating damage to its opposing Pokémon as it barreled through both of them. Slaking then landed perfectly on both feet before laying on the floor and assuming its slacker position once again. As both their Pokémon eventually rose to their feet, both trainers looked on. Lisa was nervously shaking and fiddling with her dress while Ein calmly just stood there. Both creatures recovered from the hit just in time to dodge an incoming Thunderbolt from a near-forgotten yellow rat.

“Now Slaking, Double Edge,” directed Ardos.

The huge mammal rose to its feet and barreled toward the star-shaped Pokémon, smashing into the Water-type. Both Pokémon ended up feeling the hurt from the strike, as Starmie had fired off a shot of water just as the brown beast made contact. Neither one of the two Pokémon were moving after impact. Both Ardos and Ein removed the creatures from the battlefield in flashes of red energy.

“Lisa, it is up to you,” Ein advised. “We cannot afford to lose.”

“Don’t worry, I’m on it. No big,” assured the girl.

On the opposing side, Ardos conceded, “I was not worthy, my lord. But this battle will be yours.”

“Of course I will prevail, you fool! Pikachu, use Volt Tackle!”

Lisa was now fairly confident that this battle was in the bag. “Yeah, you think you’re gonna win, but all you have left is a Pikachu. Sure, buddy…

The electric rodent crouched on all fours while it encased its tiny body with bolts of charged energy. The Pokémon then ran headlong toward its feline rival. Unfortunately for it, the agile cat launched herself into the air using her powerful hind legs. The sparking Pikachu ran right under Persian and ended up slamming into the wall on the far side of the lab. Before her opponent could struggle to its feet, the confident cat shot a sinister sphere of dark matter at the already injured mouse.

“Like I said, no big,” Lisa smirked.

“My prized Pikachu! How dare you!” bellowed the masked boss. “Hit that friggin’ stray with Thunderbolt!”

Lisa had noted by now that Pikachu needed a few seconds to gather electricity at its cheeks before releasing its attacks. She also knew how to take advantage of that flaw. “Persian, Pay Day attack!”

The barrage of shiny coins found their mark before the little nuisance Electric-type could even begin gathering electric energy. After getting hit with over four dollars worth of spare change, Pikachu stumbled about like a drunk at a sobriety test before falling flat on its face. Still on the floor, the rodent clutched its yellow head and let out a horrifyingly high-pitched squeal.

So, Pikachu’s squeal IS worse than its jolt…” The girl shouted, “Finish this thing up with a Body Slam!”

“No, Pikachu! Get rid of that damn cat already!”

The annoyingly loud yellow creature eventually stopped screeching like worn-out brake pads. Groggily getting back on its hind feet, the tiny rodent tried to zap its larger foe with a sizzling bolt of electricity. Though the brilliant yellow strike hit directly, the beige cat emerged seemingly unfazed. She got a running start, then launched herself into the air before crashing down on the diminutive Electric-type. After the crushing attack, the feline removed her body from on top of her hapless foe’s. To seal Pikachu’s fate, Persian extended her shiny, razor-sharp claws and swiped at the rat’s head and belly repeatedly. Pleased with her finishing move, Persian retracted her claws and began licking both paws almost in a playful manner.

Smirking, the victorious teenager taunted, “Equation solved. Check and mate.”

“NO! This is inconceivable!” bellowed a stunned Bart Sy as a badly scratched Pikachu disappeared from the lab floor. After taking several deep breaths, the boss continued his tirade, albeit a bit calmer.

“This loss was merely a fluke. Furthermore, I now have firsthand experience of your battle style, and I will find a way to exploit it! And if you think you have seen the worst the Brotherhood has planned, you are sorely mistaken! You have barely scratched the surface of our organization, and my men will see to it that you dig no deeper!”

Lisa had not seen when Ardos had retreated after his Slaking went down, but he now returned, driving a massive red Hummer through a gaping hole in the wall, a hole left behind after Zapdos destroyed the mind-control device. “Sir, we must make our escape!”

“Fine! Come, Tony, and bring that scientist with you!”

The leader climbed into the front passenger seat while Tony and a still groggy Lethco filled up the rear seat. The rugged military-grade truck then backed out of the same hole it had used to enter, and soon disappeared into the thick brush behind the lab.

The girl was panting heavily, but had a look of relief on her face. “We did it… we finally stopped those guys… but they’ll be back…

Three individuals rushed in the room to meet Lisa and Ein. “Like, that battle was so intense! You two so showed those guys who’s boss!”

“Thanks, but is there a… phone around here? I need… to alert the police, but… cell phones don’t… work here.” The girl was still trying to catch her breath. The two consecutive battles had worn her out – and all of her Pokémon as well.

“Check that office there,” advised Tekot, pointing to the doorway where Bart Sy and Ardos had emerged from.

“Thanks a lot!” the girl responded as she ran into the office to alert the authorities.
*********

Inspector Morgan and Officer Hauston were both in the entrance of the lab, wrapping up an interview with Lisa and the scientists.

“Thanks for the information,” Hauston said before he made his way to his Crown Victoria squad car, somehow fitting his hefty body into the vehicle. As he took off, a dark green GMC Yukon pulled up to the lab’s front door.

“Well, that so looks like our ride. I am so ready to get out of this place! Bye again, Lisa, and thanks for everything!” Lovrina waved to the teenager as she hopped into the passenger seat. At first, she got her long pink ponytails caught in the door. She had to reopen it to get her hair back inside. The others got a chuckle out of it while Lovrina’s face turned bright red.

Dr. Sequoia gave the girl a hug. “Lisa, thank you again for saving all of us and putting an end to Thrash’s mind control plot. But I fear their Shadow Pokémon development is still going as planned, so please be careful. Good luck on the rest of your journey, and don’t hesitate to call me if you need to!” The black-haired researcher made her way to the SUV. Tekot followed, simply waving to Lisa.

Ein was the last of the scientists to address Lisa. “You weren’t bad in our battles, and you have my respect and gratitude. But, do not let your guard down. You must continually improve your battling skills if you hope to defeat Thrash once and for all. I wish you the best of luck. May our paths cross again.” Once the lab coat wearing scientist had made his way to the green Yukon, the large vehicle took off.

“Ready, Lisa?” asked Morgan. “I can drive you directly to Arkwood City, where your Gym battle with Reed awaits. Your sister arrived at Reed’s place yesterday when Craig Garrison dropped her off there. There’s no way you can make it on foot; the way is blocked by more Pikachu than you can count. We’ll have to take the highway.”

“Yeah, let’s get out of this creepy place,” the girl answered as both of them got into Morgan’s Chevy Caprice. “I need a nice long rest before I challenge Reed, though.”
*********

Inside a particular red Hummer, the enigmatic Bart Sy was boiling over with anger. He was ready to take that anger out on someone, and the others in the truck would do just fine.

“All of you incompetents are to blame for this failure! Lethco, you were the one who left the prisoners with only one lookout!”

“But, sir, I received a message over PA…”

“Silence, fool!” the leader bellowed, slapping his underling across the face. “I don’t want any of your pathetic excuses! Moving on… Tony, you left the control device for Zapdos’ holding device out there in the open, as if inviting Northwood to set it free! In addition, you let personal matters get the best of you, and so you lost miserably in battle!”

“One of my scientists must have left the controller…”

“Shut up! Are you not ultimately in charge of them?!” he barked, slapping the bald-headed scientist. “Well, answer me already!”

“Y… yes… yes I am…”

“Then you are also responsible for their screw-ups as well! Finally, Ardos, you were the one who messed up our battle and resulted in our loss! If you had battled properly, this loss would have been a glorious victory! The blame squarely rests on your shoulders!” Like the others, Ardos received a slap to the back of the head.

“I am surrounded by total idiots!” roared the steaming team boss.

The remainder of the long ride was completed in total silence. None of the underlings dared to even look at their boss. Ardos did not dare say what he thought caused their loss… Bart Sy’s weak Pikachu.

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