Oh, I have a long disclaimer thing this time! ^_^;;
First off - this is getting beyond a joke. I wrote the last chapter ONLY ONE WEEK AGO and I've already gotten several messages asking "geeze, why the @&^# do you take so long to write each chapter, don't stop there, hurry up and do the next one!". I write when I can and when I want to. I write 'cos I like it. So I appreciate not being pushed. At least be polite.
*ahem* Sorry about that. No offense intended to anyone in particular. ^_^;;
Second thing, the characters WILL be back in character. Eventually. Most of them. ^_^;; (Okay, so there's a slim chance of any of them going back in character. Sue me.)
Okay, something I think I should probably mention. The boss of Team Rocket is not called Giovanni in this story. I can do that because it's a fanfic, and besides, his name is never said in the show.
His name, Fitori... sounds kinda weird but I have my reasons for it, which will be later revealed. 'fi' is a play on the word fire and tori means bird. It's still the same guy as Gio though. ^_^.
And for the record, don't worry, none of my stories will ever reach much beyond a PG rating. I hate explicit stuff. *ick*
Part 14 - Bridging Gaps
James didn't say much at first. Jessie thought he might be in shock, but his eyes seemed normal, although a bit more serious than usual. The two could read each other pretty well just by reading expressions, but recently they'd become something of a mystery to each other. Because they'd changed.
After she'd sprung her bombshell, there'd been a long silence. Persian made a kind of choking sound, and suddenly wished more than ever that it could talk.
Then James had said "what are you going to do?"
She sniffled. "I don't know. I really don't. I'm not sure of anything."
"Are you going to... you know... get rid of it?"
"You mean, have an abortion?"
She wiped her face with her jumper's sleeve.
"See, at least you're sure of something."
Jessie smiled slightly. She felt a little better now that her friends knew, but still didn't know what James was thinking. She soon found out.
"Well, it'll be okay Jess," he said. "It's not the end of the world."
"You're not taking this seriously," she said.
"Seriously... well, it is serious," he said, and now he was starting to sound like the person he was before joining Team Rocket. Softer. "But you can't let yourself get miserable because of it. It's supposed to be a good thing, anyway. Starting a new life."
"Yeah..." muttered Jessie. "It doesn't feel like much of a beginning though. More of an end."
She couldn't answer that. But his question pleased her more than she could say. It meant, she knew, that as far as James was concerned, their friendship hadn't changed.
Persian watched Jessie and James curiously. He'd rarely seen this side of them. More intelligent, and more human.
A man well dressed in black cursed. He has been seen before in this tale, a few times. He's the one associated with the infamous red 'R', yet few people know his true identity.
"What do you MEAN you can't progress to the next stage?" he snapped, "what's the point of all these years of research if you can't bring it to the next stage?!"
The person he was shouting at, a mid-twenties lady in a white lab coat, was very calm.
"Mr Fitori, sir, this is something that science can't follow up on."
"Silph bloody well managed to do it!"
"The Silph family is... different."
"What do you mean?"
"They seem to have a spark of... of some quality... that science alone does not."
"What are you blathering about?"
"Be realistic, sir. To convert a living creature into energy form and store them into a tiny, pocket-sized ball... it's not something science can do. To create a stone that stores a power inside it, that will teach a Pokemon a new attack... how can you figure that out with chemistry, physics and biology?"
"Find a way," scowled the man.
"We cannot," she said, just as emphatically.
"But Silph has produced such things... the Silph factory is where they manufacture Pokeballs, Pokedexes, rare candies, TMs and HMs..."
"They're not produced in bulk, except for the Pokeballs. They're all from the minds of the Silph family, sir. They seem to have an unusual understanding of Pokemon. Perhaps you could find out from them yourself."
"I won't. I asked the Silph head, he refused."
The scientist looked at him. "You have influence though, could you not 'entice' him to share his secrets...?"
"I'm not quite prepared to make such a commotion just yet. I don't want Team Rocket to become too well known. We've escaped the news so far, for the most part."
"The head of Silph is not the only living member of the Silph family."
"Who else is there?" asked Fitori.
"I'm not sure. You'd have to check with Team Rocket's research department. They're the eyes and ears of the Pokemon world."
"Yes, I am aware of that," he snapped, "I am the bloody boss you know."
He turned to the young lady and nodded. "You may go back to your work. I'm expecting some more evolution stones and Shellder to come in soon, so you can finish the extent of your research on evolutions."
"Nothing says that we'll necessarily have to directly battle each other at Pokemon League," said Misty to Ash. "I think we shouldn't worry about helping each other."
Ash looked at her warily. What was she up to now?
She grinned. "Well, we have to get our Pokemon in good shape! My water Pokemon are getting good practise through gym battles, but my Cubone and Fearow need some work, and you could train your Pokemon some more too."
"So, at least one of us should win this Pokemon League thing! We'll show people like Damien what makes a good fighter!"
Ash suddenly caught Misty's enthusiasm. "Alright, I accept! We've been trying to 'train up our Pokemon' for weeks but we keep getting interrupted."
"Your Squirtle's doing better though."
Misty had let Ash try his hand at gym battling with his water Pokemon. He'd beaten several amateur trainers. It was about the time of year that trainers beginning their Pokemon journey from Pallet would reach Cerulean, and Ash was reminded of himself in some of the trainers he saw.
'Except, I wasn't that full of myself,' he thought, with his selective memory.
"Maybe Brock can help us too," suggested Ash.
"If we can pry him away from my sisters for five minutes."
"Tonight, Jess," said James enthusiastically. It was the day after Jessie had told her teammates of her situation.
"To... night?" she was a bit apprehensive.
"To catch the legendary singing Pokemon!"
"Oh!" she sighed in relief. "Oh, yeah, no problem."
"We have to plan our strategy," said James excitedly, "I guess Mewtwo will be a lot of help, but a normal Pokeball might not be any good. You have a couple of great Pokeballs, don't you? A greatball would definately be more use. We don't really have any Pokemon that would be good against Articuno, but you could try your Lickitung, and..."
James kept on talking but Jessie wasn't really listening. She was holding her stomach and looking down at it in a kind of daze.
"A real kid, mine."
She only spoke softly, hardly aware that she was even talking.
That night, the familiar haunting sound of a Pokemon singing echoed through Sea Foam Island.
Jessie, James, Persian and Mewtwo clambered along the awkward rocky floor of Sea Foam Cavern. Mewtwo was glowing slightly, casting enough light to see by. The mysterious melody was ever present.
"We'll follow it and see where it takes us," said James. He wasn't as enthusiastic as he might have been, because he had the unexciting task of carrying Arbok.
The snake Pokemon was cold blooded, and Sea Foam Island was not its ideal place to spend a few weeks. During the day, it could usually muster up enough energy to act normally, but at night, all it was fit for was sleeping.
"Why am I carrying Arbok?" asked James for the dozenth time. "Why can't we just leave it on the beach?"
"I'm not leaving Arbok behind," said Jessie, "besides, it'd be cold all by itself."
"It's cold here," pointed out James. The cobra obligingly shivered, to prove his point.
The singing became louder the further they ventured. Finally, while Jessie and James were involved in a small but heated debate about whether or not Pokemon snakes are the same as normal snakes, Persian spoke.
"Pr," it said quietly. ("Stop.")
The others did so. Before them was a bird Pokemon, its beautiful melody now clear and distinguishable.
"Cuuuuuunoo," it sang, oblivious to the trespassers, "cuunooooo..."
"Articuno," said James with some satisfaction.
It was a beautiful bird, made more so by its complete absence of inhibition. When it flapped its wings, as it did but gently, small sparkling fragments of ice fell through the air. Its body was a startling blue but its tail was its most intriguing feature. It was made of pure ice.
It turned in the air, still singing.
And then it saw them.
What a song! What a beautiful and sad song!
Now I can hear Articuno's melody perfectly, and understand it, too. Understand it all too well. I wonder if it would understand me? We are well alike, although we do not look it. I think our histories are different but our lives are the same.
Do you know what the Articuno is singing? It's a song of solitude. It is beautiful because it is powerful, but more than that, because it has feeling in what it sings.
The difference between it and I, I think, is that it genuinely wants to be left alone. It wants no trainer. It wants to live in beautiful peace to sing its song, here in the icy solitude.
I thought I was similar, but I think I wanted a trainer all along.
That doesn't mean I can obey mine now though.
"Alright, Mewtwo!" encouraged James. "Go get that Articuno!"
"Mew," it said, turning its head. (Nope.)
"Meew." (No way.)
Articuno looked at Team Rocket. It didn't seem angry at being discovered. It didn't seem worried at all.
The bird flapped its wings powerfully and hovered in the air facing them all.
"Uh... nice song," said James a bit nervously, seeing that he wasn't going to get much help from Mewtwo.
For some reason, this seemed to be exactly the right thing to say. Articuno whistled happily and nodded in agreement.
"Ssshaa, ssshaboka?" hissed Arbok, from James' arms. (Do you make the caves cold?)
Articuno nodded again. "Articuuno?" ("You came to hear my song?")
Arbok had never encountered an Articuno before, and as such had no idea what it was saying.
"Meww!" said Mewtwo, who did understand. (Yes!)
Articuno looked at the cat Pokemon and blinked. "Aarticuno?" (What language is this?)
Mewtwo sighed and sulked. "Mew mew." (Nobody understands me.)
Jessie looked at James expectantly. "Well, our Pokemon are having a nice chat, what now Mr all-we-need-is-a-good-strategy-and-we'll-catch-Articuno-in-five-seconds-flat?"
James sweatdropped, and Articuno was startled.
It began singing again, and Mewtwo shivered happily. Arbok shivered too, but not with happiness.
"Mewww, mrew," (James, let's leave it alone.)
Persian had no interest in any of this. It didn't understand anything anyone else was saying anyway. It just lay on the icy ground and hoped they could go someplace warmer soon.
But Persian couldn't just lie there for long.
Articuno decided it was angry with the thought of being captured, and with the very idea that someone could sneak up to it in the guise of music appreciation with that intent!
It flapped its wings very quickly, producing a minor snowstorm. Jessie and James were half-blinded by the snow, and James was caught off-guard by Articuno flashing past, right in front of his face.
Suddenly he realised they were out of their element.
"Er, I think we could probably leave Sea Foam Island now," sweatdropped James, and began to run.
Jessie, Persian and Mewtwo all-too-willingly followed suit.
Over the next few days, Ash and Misty had several Pokemon battles. But all of them were aimed at finding the weaknesses and enchancing the strengths of their Pokemon. It wasn't openly competitive. Had it been, the two probably would've killed each other by now in rivalry.
"Pidgeotto, I choose you!"
"Misty calls... Cubone!"
That battle was to help Pidgeotto to become stronger by giving it an advantage.
"Alright, whirlwind attack!"
"Don't do that, Ash," said Misty in her 'I'm-a-Pokemon-master' voice. "Whirlwind doesn't cause damage, and in a stadium would only make a mess."
Ash rolled his eyes. "Okay, gust attack!"
Pidgeotto's first attack was still its best one.
"Cubone, get back up there and try rage attack!"
Brock sometimes helped out, letting Misty raise her water Pokemon against his rock, and Vulpix. It benefited him, too, as his Pokemon were gradually developing more of a resistance to water.
The three trainers were finally beginning to get serious with their training. Battling Team Rocket constantly had helped their Pokemon in strength and courage, but a greater variety of opponents was needed to properly raise a Pokemon to its full strength.
"Mewww," began Mewtwo. (James.)
Team Rocket were in the boat they'd come to Sea Foam on, just casting off from the island.
"Mew, mrew mew?"
James looked at Mewtwo blankly. They'd begun to understand each other, but by no means could James understand the other Pokemon's every word.
Becoming tired of this system, Persian wearily said "Purr, persian persian."
Arbok wearily said "Shaaaa, boka boka."
Jessie wearily said "It wants to fly to New Zealand."
"Me-ww!" (I did not say that!)
They tried again and James found that Mewtwo wanted to visit Cinnabar Island.
"Sure, why not."
"Oh, it's always nice when someone consults their partner before going totally off course!" said Jessie, with no little sarcasm.
James got a little sweatdrop. "Uh... would you like to go to Cinnabar Island?"
"It's supposed to be quite warm there..."
James grinned. That hadn't been too difficult.
Arbok smiled to itself too. Finally, a bit of better luck.
"SHAA!" Arbok very happily jumped out of the boat onto the dock, promptly knocking several beams of wood out with his tail.
"Shaa," it sweatdropped, as it realised it'd demolished some of the jetty. "Ssshabok." (Oh well. It can be fixed.)
The others got out of the boat also, glad to be on dry land.
Arbok slithered around the group over and over as they walked.
"Arbok!" snapped Jessie as she tripped over it for the dozenth time, "MAY I ask what you're doing, running circles around us like this?"
"Shaa!" it said, very happy.
"Yes, I know it's warm. No need to start acting like an idiot."
"Shaaaaaaboka!" it said, totally oblivious. It suddenly leapt into the air and crashed into the ground, burrowing under it.
"What now..." groaned Jessie, as a growing mound of dirt amassed from where Arbok was digging.
Then from the hole came a painful sounding "Bokk!" (Ouch!)
"Hyperactive cobras," mutttered Jessie, "now I've seen everything. Arbok, you okay down there?"
"What do you MEAN not really?"
"Well, it serves you right for being an idiot!"
James and Mewtwo grinned at each other.
"There seems to be a problem? Such as?"
Jessie facefaulted. "You're STUCK? How'd you get stuck?! Oh, enough of this. Arbok, return."
The best method for getting a Pokemon away, being struck with a red beam and drawn inside its Pokeball.
The ball shook slightly and was still.
"Alright!" she grinned. "I caught Arbok!"
"Now you sound like Ash," grinned James.
Jessie didn't seem offended at this. Instead, she laughed and pulled an imaginary baseball cap backwards.
"Bulbasaur... I choose you!" she mimicked. "Give it a leech seed! Haha, your Pokemon's energy's getting drained! Okay, vine whip! Now, finish it off with your solar beam attack!"
She winked at James. "Whaddya think? I could make a fabulous Pokemon Master if that's all it takes."
"You've memorised all Bulbasaur's attacks," he couldn't help saying.
"I know ALL his Pokemon's attacks. And Misty's. And Brock's. Heck, my knowledge of Pokemon is quite improved after meeting them."
"And what a way to gain knowledge."
"Through first hand experience, Pokemon Tech would be proud."
The two laughed again. James felt happy because Jessie seemed happy, for a little while at least. He wasn't sure how she really felt, but there was something bright. The sun didn't hurt either. It'd been a few weeks since they'd seen it. Maybe, like Arbok, it was making all of them a little crazy.
Persian, however, was as quiet as ever. He had never felt more out of it. Usually he'd be teasing the two and laughing right along with them. But his new voice wasn't understood by either of them.
"Okay Ash," said Misty in a business-like voice, "I've drawn up a list here of each of our Pokemon. And here are their weaknesses."
Ash looked at the list. "Pikachu... HEY! I do too know some of its non-electric attacks!"
"Uh... um.... bite!"
"You made that up!"
"It's bitten things before!"
"Bulbasaur... no real weaknesses. Squirtle... no real weaknesses... Charizard... tendency to set its wings on fire. Yes, we'll have to watch that I think."
"Krabby... attack still not very strong. And it's nervous of fighting tough looking opponents. Yeah, I guess that's fair enough."
The two remembered the battle of Krabby verses Onix and cringed.
"Well, I don't know what I can do about that, except put it into more battles."
"Doing that scares it though," said Misty.
"Yeah... it's a problem. And this last one... Pidgeotto does NOT have lame attacks!"
"It does too."
"We are not sounding juvenile!" snapped Misty and Ash in unison, and stuck out their tongues at the yellow mouse.
"Pikachu." (I stand corrected.)
"It had NO flying attacks."
"What do you call gust?"
"What do you call whirlwind?"
"That's not an attack."
Ash groaned. "Does it even matter?"
"If someone sends out a fighting Pokemon, what will you do?"
"Get Pikachu to use Thundershock."
"That's your solution to everything."
"It works, though."
"You need TMs."
Misty started hitting her head against the wall. "Pokemon Master? Pokemon MASTER? Ohh, the fate of the Pokemon League is grim."
Mewtwo had minimised so small its exact form couldn't even be made out, but since Team Rocket were keeping an eye on it, they could see it well enough.
It had been several years since Mewtwo had been on Cinnabar Island. Things had changed a lot, but the Pokemon's memory was very good. It knew exactly where it was going.
"Cinnabar Research Laboratories," read James, as they stopped in front of a large building.
Mewtwo squeaked a 'yes', and, with some apprehension, entered, motioning to the others to follow him.
Articuno's solitude reminded me of my own. I've got a trainer now, but no others of my kind. So, I have to go now and find out about my past while I can? I think James will help me. He won't let the scientists recapture me.
What's more, *I* won't let the scientists recapture me. I'm here strictly on reconnaissance.
Oh, this place, so cold and clinical. White walls. I remember this, I hate it.
But I can't turn back now.
I'm sure things will go smoothly. I'll find one of the nicer scientists and we can make our inquiries. Not a problem.
Two hours later, Team Rocket ran to the dock and jumped in their boat. They cast off as a crowd of furious scientists ran after them and stood on the jetty shaking their fists.
Behind them, the corridors of Cinnabar Research Laboratories lay in ruin.
"Why do we always leave places like this?" sighed James, rowing frantically.
Mewtwo stared, wide eyed, back at the quickly-disappearing dock.
It'd not gone smoothly, needless to say. After encountering several unhelpful staff, Team Rocket decided the stealth they'd developed from a life of crime would stand them in good stead.
It did. Until they were caught, of course. Mewtwo wouldn't let Team Rocket get caught, but it couldn't do that gracefully, so a big fight had ensued.
To cut a long story short, the world now knew that Mewtwo had a trainer. However, as Jessie and James were still wearing their warm clothes over the Team Rocket uniforms, and there'd been no time for the speech, nobody knew exactly who that trainer was.
Mewtwo was not thinking of that. As soon as Team Rocket had rowed a safe distance from Cinnabar, it pleaded with Jessie and James, in its own language: "Please tell me, you read those diaries and reports, what did you find out."
The two weren't sure what Mewtwo had asked, but they could guess.
"Well," said James, "I'm not sure what you want to know. A few years ago, those scientists caught a Mew, played around with its DNA and made it evolve artificially. It turned into you."
"M... Mew?" (I'm... Mew?)
"The scientists thought you were still Mew at first, only looking different," continued Jessie. "You know, you still say mew, not mewtwo. But they found out your powers were different. And also, you couldn't speak English after you evolved into Mewtwo."
Persian jerked its head up, a flash of interest in its eyes.
"ME MEW?" (I could speak English?)
"You used to be able to communicate perfectly with all Pokemon, and humans too. Apparently you could speak several human languages."
Mewtwo looked confused.
"But after you evolved, you forgot all of it. Your life began then, as far as you were concerned, because that was where you knew from."
"Then you ran away from the labs. You were spotted about a year later in -"
"Mew meww, mew mew?" (I know this part, is there anything else?)
"Apparently there's only ever one or two Mew alive at one time. Mew are very unique Pokemon. Nobody knows where they came from. Their role and purpose is unknown. In fact, almost everything's unknown. For all the study they did, they don't know very much."
"They didn't catch Mew really, they invited it to their labs and it went willingly. But after a while, they wouldn't let it leave."
"You evolved when they decided to test some things on you, like evolution stones, TMs, rare candies, and when that failed, they had a Ditto form a replica of you and analysed its genetic code. They did some tweaking to see if anything would happen."
"And it did," finished James.
Mewtwo nodded slowly. It made some sort of sense now. But now the cat Pokemon felt more alone than ever.
Persian lay on the boat floor and watched Mewtwo.
Jessie and James rowed until they saw the shores of Pallet in the distance.
Two young Pokemon trainers entered the Pokemart and started looking down aisles for specific items.
"According to your list," said Ash, "Psyduck has every weakness imaginable."
"It just won't LISTEN to me!" Misty scowled. "I wish it'd do what it was supposed to."
A man who looked to be in his early twenties overheard them.
"Your Pokemon won't obey you? Maybe it's at too high a level for you to control."
Misty sweatdropped. "No, Psyduck definately does not have that problem."
"A Psyduck, huh? Oh, they're great Pokemon to raise, aren't they?"
Misty raised her eyebrows. He laughed.
"Oh, don't worry, I know how you feel. It can be very frustrating, especially for the serious water Pokemon trainer. But it's frustrating for the Pokemon too. You should buy that Psyduck something for its migraines."
"I never thought of that."
"It probably disobeys you because it's confused. This shop sells potions created specifically for Psyduck though. They're on sale today, so I'd recommend stocking up!"
Misty laughed. "You don't perchance work here, do you?"
The man grinned, blue eyes sparkling. He covered his employee badge. "Whatever gave you that idea?"
"Well, absolutely anything that'll help my Psyduck be the best it can be, please show me."
Half an hour later, Misty walked out the Pokemart laden down with a dozen shopping bags.
"I didn't mean that so literally," she groaned.
"You don't have to come," said James, "I'll go see the boss alone."
Jessie nodded. James went into the back entrance of Viridian Gym that served as a Team Rocket headquarters.
His boss looked up as he heard him enter. James tipped his backpack upside-down on the desk and a number of Pokeballs, holding the water Pokemon they'd caught, tumbled out, as well as a large piece of waterstone.
"Finally! I was beginning to think you'd never come up with anything decent! You haven't stolen a single Pokemon since that Aerodactyl you somehow managed to catch almost six months ago. That incidence was the only thing keeping you on the team."
"Jessie said you said our strategy was good."
The older man looked at James closely.
"Did she tell you anything else?"
James knew exactly what he was talking about, but still said "not really."
"So, see what you can do without this kid's interference!"
"Ash, you said his name was?"
"If you really are capable of getting Pokemon except when he's around, he must be a formidable trainer."
"His Pikachu must certainly be well worth getting."
"Yes." James was wondering what Furetori was getting at.
"I'll have to pay him a visit."