This chapter is dedicated to Jordon and her friends. Thanks for reading. ^_-.
I'd just like to take this moment to explain that I've got every main plot point of Sincerity planned and and have done so for the last two months. Thus, if anything I write bears resemblence in plot to the work of someone else, it's purely accidental. :(
Australian terms: tea = dinner (not specifically Australian) and jumper = sweater. ^_^.
I had horrific writer's block for this chapter.
Oh, and I see Wonder Boy in every arcade I've been in. ^_^;;
Part 13 - Sharp Contrasts
"Meeeowth," gasped Meowth, the coin on his forehead glowing a dozen different colours at once. He was clearly fighting it.
"Wow, Meowth, you're finally evolving!" said James happily. "Congratulations!"
"I don't wanna evolve," hissed Meowth. And kept glowing.
Despite all that had happened so far, the day was still young.
"A day off!" exclaimed Ash. "Let's go Pokemon hunting!"
Misty rolled her eyes. "I'm sick of that. There are so many cool things to do in Cerulean."
"Sick of Pokemon hunting? How is that possible?"
"Day off, Ash," she said, "let's go swimming."
"You're obsessed with water! Besides, you went swimming in your own pool yesterday!"
"Oh yeah... shopping, then?"
Ash made a choking noise. "Shopping... with a girl? That'd take up the whole day!"
Misty grinned. "I know some other places. Let's go, Ash."
She ran off, and Ash followed close behind.
Jessie and James watched in a kind of horrified fascination. Their friend looked like he was in a lot of pain, and they'd never seen an evolution take so long before.
James was thinking about Meowth's earlier statement. His last English statement. He didn't want to evolve.
The glowing intensified. Then it faded.
The charm fell from his forehead and clattered onto the dining room table.
Meowth had evolved into Persian.
The charm lay still and stopped glowing.
The air was cold... the atmosphere dark...
"Pikachu!" said Pikachu happily. It'd never seen such a place before, but it certainly liked it.
"It's great that they let Pokemon in here!" grinned Ash. He was having fun too, even if he wasn't very good at it.
Misty grinned and zipped past him, her skates flashing. "Come on Ash, you're very slow!"
Ash sweatdropped. "I've never been ice skating before..."
"Gee, I couldn't tell."
Misty's sarcasm couldn't have been more true. But Ash was having fun, even if he was just inching along the rail on the side of the rink.
Pikachu also wore little Pokemon ice skates, but it was a lot more graceful than Ash. It was fast too.
"Let's race, Pikachu!" grinned Misty. She and Pikachu started speed-skating around the rink, leaving Ash with a sweatdrop clutching the rail.
Pikachu was going so fast it was flashing. Unfortunately, because it was so small, a lot of skaters missed it. One, a large burly man, tripped right over Pikachu. The two went skidding and crashed into the far wall.
Scared, Pikachu squeaked and did its reflex...
The ice arena was lit up by a brilliant flash of lightning.
His last human words were "I don't want to evolve." But his last Meowth words were "Meowth, that's right." Jessie and James understood that.
They looked at Persian. Persian looked at them. It put one paw over its fallen charm.
Misty, Ash and a very sheepish Pikachu headed to their next location.
"It doesn't matter," said Misty reassuringly, "there are lots of other places in the city to go."
"I'm getting a bit sick of being kicked out of places for things that aren't my fault," sighed Ash.
Misty said, "Well, you can't really blame the managers. We did accidentally melt all the ice in the arena..."
A young lady walked up to the ice arena's front door with a Hitmonchan by her side.
A large sign, that she was sure hadn't been there before, said "Pokemon prohibited."
"Well... how does it feel to be a Persian?" ventured James, finally.
"Prr," muttered Persian. ("Awful.")
There was a pause.
"Well, answer me!"
"Persian." ("I did.")
A kind of panic seized James. "What do you mean? Why won't you answer? Meowth! Er, Persian!"
"PERSIAN!" ("I DID!")
Jessie swallowed. "Can't you talk?"
Persian shook its head.
"Now this is where -"
Ash's eyes gleamed. "This is where the real MEN hang out!"
Misty sweatdropped. "I wouldn't go that far, Ash. In any case, if that were true, you wouldn't be allowed in."
Ash ignored that and ran to the nearest video game.
"I love arcades!" he grinned.
"Pikachu?" asked the Pokemon curiously, jumping onto the game.
"This one's called... er, Wonder Boy? I think this is about 10 years old. But who cares. Watch and learn, Pikachu."
Pikachu watched with interest as Ash managed to die within about five seconds.
"Pika pi, pikachu?"
("Ash, that's how you play?")
Ash nodded sheepishly. He put some more coins in the machine.
"Why don't you have a turn, Pikachu?"
Pikachu grinned and grabbed the controls.
Soon something of a crowd was gathered around the Wonder Boy to see a Pokemon playing a video game, and doing quite well.
Finally Wonder Boy failed to make a jump and the game was over. Pikachu smacked the controls irritably and accusingly told the game:
"Pika, pika, pikachu!" ("@&%$ing bird, that was your fault!")
Ash sweatdropped. "Here Pikachu, if you like that, you could play again if you wanted to."
Pikachu nodded enthusiastically. Ash put in another coin, and another video game junkie was born. ^_^.
Pikachu played for another twenty minutes until it died in exactly the same place as before.
"Pika, pika!" ("@&%$ing bird!")
It instinctively did what it did to all birds who dared cross it.
A tall man sat at his desk, blue eyes gleaming. The latest reports had just come in.
"Team Rocket is certainly going to win," he hissed. "We've almost perfected it. Research pays off."
A Persian sitting on his desk purred.
The arcade shut down. All of its games had short circuited. Ash, Pikachu and Misty snuck out the moment the carnage began.
"I don't think we'd better go back there," sighed Misty.
Ash and Pikachu sweatdropped.
"This isn't turning out to be a great day," groaned Ash. "But we still have a few hours before it gets dark. Do you know any other places? Places we're unlikely to get kicked out of?"
"There is one more place that'll be open," said Misty thoughtfully. "You'll like this place, I bet. Let's go!"
"Wow, Misty, what is this place?"
She sweatdropped. "What does it look like?"
"Wow, a zoo for Pokemon!"
Pikachu looked a bit upset and said "Pikaaa, pika?" ("Pokemon in cages?")
"Don't worry Pikachu, it's safer for them here than in the wild, and the cages aren't as bad as you'd think."
The three walked in and Pikachu gasped. The 'cages' were almost non-existant. An 'island' with jungle-like foliage was inhabited by Mankey, Raticate and Pidgey while the pond around it was full of Squirtle and Goldeen.
Nearby, a huge avairy was filled with the singing of a dozen Pidgeotto, Fearow and even a Pidgeot.
A little way in the distance could be seen a huge glassed-in area with icy cliffs and cold water. A Lapras and its child shared this with a small clan of Dratini.
"This is great!" exclaimed Ash, "I can't wait to look around!"
"Yeah Ash, and maybe you'll actually learn something about Pokemon," grinned Misty.
"Your beds are ready whenever you want them, and -" began Cassandra. She trailed off as she saw Jessie and James with a Persian. None of them looked particularly happy.
"Oh, are you trying to make friends with Persian? It doesn't really like strangers, I should warn you..."
There was a pause.
"That's Meowth," said James finally.
"Oh, it evolved! Oh, congratulations! It's great when a Pokemon evolves, isn't it? The best day of a Pokemon's life, I think!"
'I want to die,' thought Persian. It had a sudden urge to claw the thoughtless Cassandra. It put that out of its mind and put that thought down to a Persian's natural mean spiritedness.
"It didn't want to evolve," said Jessie finally.
Cassandra blushed and covered her mouth. "Oh, I'm sorry! But being a Persian isn't so bad. They are stronger than Meowths, right?"
Persian just closed its eyes. Cassandra took the hint and left the room.
"What now?" asked Jessie, wearily.
"What do you mean?"
"We have a partner who can't talk, who we can't understand."
"We'll take him with us. We can learn to understand him."
Persian looked up slightly, a gleam of hope in its eyes.
"You're right. We can't let Team Rocket split over this," agreed Jessie.
"Persian, purrr," said Persian.
Jessie and James looked at each other blankly.
"Shaa, shaabok," said Arbok.
Jessie could understand Arbok, so she translated for James.
"Arbok said that Persian said to keep his charm for him."
"Well, at least we have a way of translating," said James, with a bit of relief.
He picked up Meowth's charm and looked it over. It glittered, but only with reflected light, not with a source of its own as it used to. Persian nodded.
James put the charm in his backpack. "Mewtwo, take care of it for us."
'I have to keep that,' thought Persian, 'it was before to remind me that I was a Pokemon. Now I must keep it to remind me that once I came close to being a human.'
A few hours later, and the zoo was soon to close. But Ash, Misty and Pikachu (who had successfully escaped being thrown out) were still having fun, even if most of the other people had left the park.
"Look at all the Chansey!" exclaimed Misty. "You can hardly find any of them in the wild any more!"
"They look so happy," said Ash.
"Oh, look at this Misty!"
Ash dragged Misty over to a large tank. Inside was a small baby Pokemon. Its blue tail coiled around it as it slept.
"The rarest Pokemon in the world," whispered Misty, reading the caption. "Mariru is a new species of water Pokemon. They are specially bred and very rare. This Mariru is the first naturally born of its kind."
"Pika..." whispered Pikachu, its eyes sparkling.
"Why are we all whispering?" whispered Ash.
"We don't want to wake it up, silly," said Misty.
"PREPARE FOR TROUBLE AND MAKE IT DOUBLE!"
The baby Mariru woke up.
"What?!" squawked Ash.
"Team Rocket!" gasped Misty.
Two figures stood in the shadows, faces hidden. But their identities were soon apparent.
"To infect the world with devastation!"
"To blight all peoples in every nation!"
"To denounce the goodness of truth and love!"
"To extend our wrath to the stars above!"
"We're Team Rocket circling Earth all day and night!"
"Surrender to us now or you will surely lose the fight!"
"Oh great, it's *that* Team Rocket," said Ash.
Misty looked nervously about her. There was nobody else around.
"You're going to wish you'd never met Team Rocket!" said Butch.
"I already do," muttered Ash, but a Pokeball was in his hand as he said it.
"We're not going to waste time with you," snapped Cassidy, and hit Butch over the head. "We're here to steal all these fabulous rare Pokemon!"
"You can't," growled Ash, "I won't let you take them."
"Pika!" agreed Pikachu, with an equally fierce expression.
"Go, Koffing!" called Cassidy, and the Pokemon duly appeared.
Butch threw out a Pokeball and a huge rock rhinoceros appeared.
"What's that?" asked Ash, pulling out his Pokedex.
"Rhydon. A rock/ground Pokemon. Very dangerous when angry, it is capable of mass destruction."
"That's encouraging," muttered Ash.
The area was covered in smog. Ash quickly called out Pidgeotto to blow the smoke away.
It did so, and when the smoke was gone, Ash and Misty could see that Team Rocket was also.
"Why does Team Rocket always do that," scowled Misty.
Ash, Misty and Pikachu blinked.
"I... think Rhydon's still here," ventured Ash.
"What made you think that," muttered Misty.
Rhydon glared at them and stomped a couple of times. The ground trembled.
"Is this their idea of a distraction?" asked Misty. "It's pretty lame. They must think that because you had a Pikachu, you wouldn't be able to beat it."
"Ha," said Ash, "even Pikachu could beat that thing! Go for it!"
Pikachu gave Ash a 'you've-gotta-be-kidding' look and said "Pika pi, pika pi pi pikachu!" ("Ash, don't be stupid, what's the point when you have better Pokemon to fight it with?")
Misty laughed as Ash sweatdropped and opened another Pokeball.
"Alright, Squirtle go!"
Misty nodded. "That's more like it! Staryu, I think...."
"Staryu? Shouldn't you try out your other Pokemon?"
"Staryu needs good practise."
Misty found Staryu's Pokeball and was about to throw it, when her backpack glowed...
Misty and Ash facefaulted.
"PSYDUCK?! What are YOU doing here?! I left you at home!"
Psyduck grinned and gave a victory sign.
"Ooooh, I hate you," she moaned. "Fine, stay there. Go, Staryu!"
This time, Staryu came out.
Staryu, Squirtle and Psyduck faced the rock Pokemon.
In the surveillence room of the zoo, Officer Jenny was eating a donut and leaning so far back in her chair she was almost horizontal.
'Only another twenty minutes 'til this place closes and I get off duty at last,' she thought.
The corner of her eye caught a quick movement.
She turned to the monitor. On the screen were two people in black Team Rocket costumes. She sweatdropped as she saw them zip from monitor to monitor, grabbing all the Pokemon in fast-forward. Anime laws of physics.
"They WON'T get away with this," thought Jenny darkly and, quickly polishing off her donut, jumped up and ran out the room, calling for security in her radio.
Cassidy and Butch smirked at each other as they reached the exit. Each held a bag full of Pokeballs.
"A fabulous haul!" said Cassidy.
Butch nodded. The two were about to leave but were arrested by two shouts, yelling the same thing.
Butch and Cassidy blinked as they saw Officer Jenny on one side of them and Ash and Misty on the other. Ash's Bulbasaur was standing next to Ash, its vines extended to hold a fainted Rhydon. Bulbasaur dropped the heavy rock Pokemon in relief as soon as it saw its trainers.
"Oh, get lost," said Cassidy, "you can't stop us."
"Officer Jenny, they wiped clean half the zoo! You have to stop them!" said Ash.
"I will," said Jenny, and pulled out a Pokeball.
Ash and Misty looked in interest. They'd never seen a Jenny with a Pokeball before.
Jenny caught their looks. "Since Team Rocket has doubled their efforts recently, and they fight with Pokemon, our supervisors thought we should be trainers too."
She looked at Ash.
"Do I know you? I'm sure I've seen you before."
"Gosh, I don't know," he said, "I've seen so many Jennys..."
"I remember!" said Jenny, "you're the kid who was standing around when the vacuum and giant hose was stolen last year! I never forget a face!"
Misty interrupted. "Excuse me, but Butch and Cassidy are getting away."
Jenny facefaulted, and then ran to intercept them. Ash, Pikachu and Misty followed. Bulbasaur groaned as it had to pick up Rhydon again.
"I've got no tolerance for such blatant Pokemon thieves! Pokeball, go!"
Officer Jenny's Pokeball broke open and an Arcanine appeared.
"ARRR!" it howled.
Cassidy and Butch looked at each other and sighed.
"It's never as easy as you want," said Butch, but pulled out a Pokeball of his own. Cassidy did the same.
Ash's Squirtle, Bulbasaur and Pidgeotto were fainted, as were Misty's Staryu, Jenny's Arcanine and Machop. However, all of Butch and Cassidy's Pokemon were out.
"Ha, we win," said Jenny, "give back those Pokeballs you stole before my Graveller teaches you a lesson!"
"Officer Jenny's Pokemon are pretty good," whispered Ash to Misty, who nodded.
Butch and Cassidy didn't look as though they were about to back down.
"Team Rocket never gives up!" snapped Cassidy.
"Too bad for them," Ash couldn't help saying.
Cassidy and Butch reached into their bags and both pulled out a handful of Pokeballs.
"You'll never win," grinned Butch, releasing a Lapras and a Magmar.
"Not against us," agreed Cassidy, releasing a Farfetch'd, Nidorino and Mariru.
The baby Mariru looked up at Cassidy innocently and blinked.
Ash swallowed hard, but Misty looked outraged.
"How dare you steal poor baby Pokemon!"
"All in the name of research," replied Cassidy. "Alright Mariru, give them what you've got!"
It was clear Cassidy had no idea what attacks Mariru had. The water Pokemon continued to look up at her blankly.
"Stupid thing! Attack! Attack these losers!"
Mariru's eyes glowed and it happily said "mariru!"
Everyone watched it closely. Little snowflakes began to fall around it. Soon, a small swirling snowstorm surrounded the Pokemon.
"Mariru!" it said cutely, and before they knew it, in a flash of white, Team Rocket found themselves frozen solid.
"Brock, come here and clean out this aquarium!"
"When you've finished that, the living room needs dusting!"
"And someone has to do the shopping tomorrow, so don't forget!"
Brock sighed. "This'd better be worth it."
"Aww, what's the matter?" asked Daisy with mock concern. "Is it too hard for you Brock?"
Brock blushed. "Oh! No, never! ^_^;;"
"Good. Then you can cook tea as well."
"I suppose this is good practise for when we get married," he told Daisy. She grinned.
"I can't thank you all enough," said Jenny enthusiastically. "And that Mariru discovered such a great power... did you know that's the first time humans have ever seen Mariru's powers?"
Ash and Misty didn't reply, but their eyes sparkled. So did Pikachu's. The electric mouse was just happy that they were finally being congratulated instead of scolded, that day.
Two days later, Team Rocket reached the coast.
James sat in his bathers, digging his toes into the sand. He stared out to sea with a carefree smile on his face.
Beside him, Mewtwo sat with a similar expression. Arbok lay half buried in the sand, also with a peaceful smile. Persian was curled up asleep on the cobra's hood.
"Finally got our vacation, right Jess?"
Jessie, who was wearing a jumper and jeans and had blatantly refused to wear bathers - James had been surprised at that since he knew how much Jessie loved to show off - rolled her eyes.
"It's not exactly a tropical vacation James, it's bloody freezing here and I just want to leave as soon as possible! Can we get going already?"
James blinked. Jessie had been a bit on edge lately.
He was about to reply but was startled by a sudden flash.
"What was that?" whispered Jessie, suddenly pale. James looked at her curiously. He really didn't understand her sometimes.
James turned and saw a faint glittering among the trees near the beach.
"Hey, you! Come out here!" he shouted.
From the trees stepped a sheepish figure who approached them. A familiar figure.
"Snap!" exclaimed Jessie and James.
Snap stopped short as he recognised them. "Team Rocket!"
He gritted his teeth nervously. He didn't have any Pokemon, and didn't think Team Rocket would receive his presence very kindly.
"What did you just take a photo of?" asked James.
"I saw the Mewtwo there... it looked so relaxed. And there's never been any decent photos of a Mewtwo before. How'd you get it? It's great looking... a perfect shot! And to think that..."
Snap trailed off as he saw the looks Team Rocket was giving him.
"What's the problem?"
James put his head to one side thoughtfully and decided that Snap was trustworthy.
"Nobody's allowed to know we've got Mewtwo."
"Why? Did you steal it?"
"No! But if it was known we had it, we'd have to give it up to the boss of Team Rocket, and I want to keep it myself."
Snap looked sceptical.
Mewtwo looked at Snap and nodded.
Snap paused, then very reluctantly opened the back of his camera. "Here... I didn't get any good shots on this film anyway."
"Thanks," said James with relief.
Snap nodded and walked away. But he had no intention of forgetting this.
Days passed. The results of Gary's Pokemon competition came out. Of the competitors, AJ had ranked first, some unknown person second and Lara Laramie third. Team Rocket had reached Sea Foam Island and set up camp there for a while.
They'd successfully caught several Shellder and a handful of Staryu, as well as a water Pokemon for themselves each. They'd learnt their lesson after the Saint Anne fiasco so long ago.
"Persian!" called the cat, indicating he'd seen something moving in the water.
Jessie, James, Arbok and Mewtwo gathered around the shore eagerly. They'd become quite skilled at their technique now.
"What is it?" asked James.
Jessie: "Persian has no idea."
Their multiple-translations system worked reasonably well, although it was a little frustrating for Persian who was used to saying exactly what was on his mind.
Team Rocket waited in anticipation and from the water appeared...
James smiled happily. "This is great! The boss will be so proud of us! For once..."
Jessie smiled weakly. She didn't seem to share his enthusiasm. In fact, she hadn't been enthusiastic for weeks. Not since Mewtwo had joined the team, in fact.
"Wait a second," said James thoughtfully, "We're looking for Shellder because they evolve with evolution stones, right?"
His teammates nodded.
"Cloyster must've evolved with an evolution stone," continued James.
"We have to find out how it evolved with a stone! One of you Pokemon, ask Cloyster if it ever belonged to a human trainer."
Persian seldom spoke, and Mewtwo knew it would not be understood, so it was Arbok who very politely (Cloyster can be quite dangerous) made the enquiries.
The two Pokemon had a brief conversation, before Arbok turned to Jessie and said "Shaa, arboka, sssha boka." ("There is a large deposit of waterstone nearby, it will show us there.")
Jessie translated for James' benefit and his eyes sparkled.
"Perfect, perfect, this is absolutely PERFECT!"
Jessie nodded, but still did not smile.
James sighed slightly. Jessie and Persian had both been quiet and depressed lately. It was getting to be a strain.
"4 Cloyster, 3 Starmie, 8 Shellder and 5 Staryu! Plus a whole chunk of waterstone! Jessie, this is the life! We'll get promoted for sure!"
"Can we go yet?" asked Jessie quietly, "we've been here for nearly a fortnight and I'm sick of the cold."
James smiled. "I think we should wait a few more days. Have you ever heard a kind of singing at night?"
"Yes, it kept me awake all last night," snapped Jessie, "and then I was sick this morning from lack of sleep."
"You were sick yesterday morning too," said James.
"It kept me awake all that night too! I always get sick if I don't get enough sleep!"
"But Jessie, I have reason to believe that singing is from a Pokemon!"
"What else would it be," muttered Jessie.
"One of the rarest Pokemon in the world!"
"You don't care, do you."
"Not really. I guess it's good if we can catch it. But I have to back to the mainland for a few hours."
"There's something I have to do there."
James prodded but he couldn't get any more out of her than that.
That night, James, Persian and Mewtwo sat on the cliffs of Sea Foam Island and were staring out at the prussian sea.
"Mew mew, meww" purred Mewtwo happily. ("From my cave I didn't know there were such things.")
Persian said nothing, as usual. It just lifted a paw to indicate a movement the others hadn't noticed.
"Shaa!" came a voice over the waves.
Jessie and Arbok were back. The Pokemon and James started climbing down the cliff to help them bring in the boat.
Jessie didn't say anything as they pulled the boat into Sea Foam Cavern. She didn't say anything as James gave her a jumper to put over her wet clothes. She didn't say anything in response to the familiar faint sound of singing in the night.
Mewtwo and Arbok curled up together to go to sleep, an unlikely pair. Mewtwo was tired from catching up on much lost sleep in the past. Arbok was just not used to such cold weather.
So it was the original Team Rocket who climbed the Sea Foam cliffs again to see the beautiful view.
They sat in silence for a long time.
"Jessie, you've been acting really strangely lately," began James, nervously.
"Hm," said Jessie, obviously not really wanting to talk.
"You got PMS or something?"
James is not the master of discretion.
"Don't say things like that!" sweatdropped Jessie, and smacked him over the head. She turned her face away.
"Jessie? Jessie?" He took her head in one hand and gently turned it to face him. He gasped as he saw the moonlight revealing tears running down her cheeks.
"James," she choked out, "I guess I have to tell you."
"Okay," he said, a bit nervously. He'd not seen her cry in a long time.
"You know... when the boss asked to see me a few weeks ago?"
"Because of that," she whispered, "because of that..."
She seemed to be finding it difficult to put her thoughts into words, but it was mostly because she didn't want to say what had happened boldly.
"It wasn't my fault, James. Please believe me. It wasn't my choice, it wasn't my fault. I didn't want to, James. Please believe me."
James nodded uncertainly. "I believe you." He wasn't sure what he was believing but he knew he had to say something.
"Just like my father, James..."
Beside him, he felt her shudder.
"I found out today..."
Persian and James both looked at her. She swallowed hard and finally told them.