Ignore Pikachu Re-Volts or whatever the ep's called. I've not seen it, so I'll pretend it doesn't exist. ^_^.

by Leto

I was impossibly quiet... me, whose nickname was Loudmouth Cassidy. Lovely, charming nickname. I had my first Pokemon now. I'd asked a friend, one of my only ones, Jessie, to catch me one. She already had an Ekans. We were gonna go on a Pokemon journey together. The idea was a great one!

No hassles, no school, no parents! Just trees and fresh air and Pokemon and ambition for anything.

She had lurking around town for a few days, impatient to be off, but every time I tried to sneak out to leave with her, my parents would invariably find out. I suppose they weren't bad parents, but they weren't particularly good parents either. People here seem to expect that 'bad guys' have a troubled past. It wasn't that troubled, although it wasn't perfect.

My folks were full of garbage about finding your goals and working towards them, doing your best, yet as soon as I found something I really wanted to do, they said I couldn't.

They'd lecture me, calling me impatient and a delinquent when I tried to leave home. Delinquent! Ha! They should see me now!

They wouldn't let me go, but I was going to go anyway. I thought this was something I could be good at, Pokemon training. I'd had my share of failing at things. School was a drag, report card days were not something to look forward to. Music lessons were a joke. I quit them. I quit a lot of things, actually. My parents were undaunted and kept encouraging me to try other new things; other than what I wanted to do, naturally.

I had three older brothers. They all did pretty well, graduated high school and went on to university. That's impressive around here, universities are hard to get into. They weren't, like, prodigies or anything, they just worked hard. I didn't want to.

I shut the door behind me, impossibly quiet. I put a hand in my pocket and felt the Pokeball still there. This was going to happen. I was out the house!

Predictably, right at that moment, a figure stepped out of the bushes. It was my father.

"Honestly, Cassidy," he said, rolling his eyes in the dark, "you tried to sneak out the past three nights. Did you really think we were stupid enough to think you wouldn't do it again?"

I was fed up with this. Jessie was waiting for me, she had been for a week now.

"I am going," I said calmly, and kept walking. Dad put a hand on my shoulder and stopped me.

"Don't give up on everything like that," he snapped, "come back into the house and forget about this stupid idea."

"Dreams aren't stupid," I said, but quietly enough so that he couldn't hear. I knew he wouldn't let me go, so I just enlarged the Pokeball and sent out my first Pokemon.

It wasn't an ideal one, and most trainers would have laughed at it. There weren't a lot of Pokemon actually in town, and Jessie had got me the first and only one she could find.

However, even most weak Pokemon have an edge over humans. And Dad didn't know I had anything.

"Where did you get that Rattata?"

"Secrets, secrets," I grinned, "Rattata, quick attack!"

It was actually rather funny. This tiny rat growled, took a few steps backwards, then made a running jump at Dad. And that tiny rat was still powerful enough to knock him over into the rose bushes. He swore as the thorns caught his clothes, and tried feebly to get up.

Rattata mightn't be tough against other Pokemon, but could be quite useful against parents. I recalled it, feeling good, and ran off before he could stop me.

Jessie met me at the end of the road.

"Finally!" she hissed at me, but she was smiling widely. I could see her teeth glowing in the street lights.

"Let's go, future Pokemon Master," I said.

"Indeed, future Pokemon Master."

We laughed. Nothing was particularly funny, but we were young teenagers and prone to miniature bouts of hyperactivity. We began an impromptu, hissed version of chasey through the night streets of Fuchsia, trying not to laugh too hard and wake everyone up. Nobody was there to watch us go, except the stars, and they didn't mind.

We were ready for our journey.

A lot of people aspire to be a Pokemon Master, but few succeed. We soon found out why. We began with one weak Pokemon each, and didn't lose faith in them. They became stronger, but it seemed to take so *long*. The only way we could win battles would be with strong Pokemon, and the only way we could get strong Pokemon would be to catch them, and the only way we could catch strong Pokemon was if our own were strong, in which case there wouldn't be a problem to begin with.

I loathe things like that.

Anyway, we were disheartened but not about to give up. What alternatives were there? We got pretty street smart, occasionally stealing food for ourselves or our Pokemon. We never got caught, so I guess that's where it started. Confidence in small crimes, it builds up.

But what could we do? Our income from battles was nothing to write home about. In fact, it was nothing, full stop. Not that we never won, just that we lost as often as we won. Any money we did make, we spent on Pokeballs; an investment we hoped could pay off.

We were still best friends, like we always were. We watched each others backs if one of us was stealing something, we backed each other up if trainers picked on us, we cheered on each other in a battle, if we saw a wild Pokemon, we let whoever needed it most catch it.

We sent our Pokemon out at night. At night, in the forest, just looking out at the stars and infinite prussian sky and trees towering so high above us, losses and no money faded to insignificance. At that time, our Pokemon were part of the world, like we were, and what were battles and dreams? The world was a dream, the world was ours!

We each had a few Pokemon each now. None of them were really rare or really powerful, but they helped. Jessie had a Pikachu, a Psyduck and her Ekans, while I had my Rattata, a Spearow and a Vulpix. We still favoured our first Pokemon a little, and my Rattata evolved. Jessie congratulated me, but she didn't sound totally sincere. She had her Ekans longer, yet it showed no signs of becoming an Arbok.

Wanting more powerful specimens, we both snuck into the Safari Zone without paying, and caught a few things. Safariballs meant you could catch Pokemon without weakening them, but we couldn't afford such things. Jessie managed to snare a Kangaskhan, which pleased her, and I a Pinsir. Valuable additions, but we knew there was better fare available, and kept hunting.

That night, we set up a campfire by the lake and watched the dark ripples. Very slight, in a breeze, as though the lake was breathing. After a few moments, the ripples took form, and a Dratini popped its head from the water.

"Ryuu," it squeaked, looking at us both curiously.

"This is our lucky day!" Jessie and I declared, and simultaneously dove for our Pokeballs. All thoughts of sharing Pokemon suddenly left our minds, and we looked at each other with hostility.

"I saw it first!"

"What a stupid argument! We saw it at the same time!"

"Well, I need it more!"

"Your Rattata evolved! *I* need it more!"

"But your other Pokemon are stronger than mine!"

"Whose are stronger?!"

We decided to settle who needed it more by battling each other. We hadn't done this before, not even for training purposes. I could tell our Pokemon didn't like it. She ended up winning, and I felt rather pleased to note that the Dratini had swam away during our battle. Undaunted, she sent her Psyduck to swim around and find it. Psyduck was the wrong shape for swimming, and after some frenzied splashing, opted to evolve into Golduck.

Things grew a little icy between us after that. We had more arguments and spoke less freely. Her team was now a lot better than mine, and the next time we went to a city with a gym, she actually won a badge. Pleased with her victory, she talked about how easy it was, and what a loser the gym leader was. But I couldn't beat him.

I guess it's easy to see these things now, why hostility appeared. It was all her fault, of course. Because I didn't have any other options, I followed her to the next town we wanted to visit. That decision changed a lot, because along the road, we were stopped by a trio of Team Rocket members who ordered us to hand over our Pokemon.

We battled them, and they won. I ran to help my Raticate, while Jessie went to her Ekans, and while we were doing that, one of the Rockets grabbed me and ripped the Pokeballs off my belt. Another did the same to Jessie. I was furious and charged after them, threatening all sorts of terrible things, while Jessie hunted about on the ground, found enough of what she wanted, and started hurling rocks at them.

They turned in irritation, only to have one of them hit quite hard with a large rock, and crash to the ground in pain. I grinned, they were all distracted. I ran towards them and tackled another Rocket, while Jessie moved to fight the third.

The one I had tackled, instead of looking angry, grinned at us from the ground. "You two have potential. I see the spark."

"What are you talking about?"

"I smell the smoke," said the rock-ed Rocket.

"And I hear the engines roar!" finished the last, looking enthusiastic. The three grinned at each other, and Jessie and I were totally bewildered.

"What are you talking about?!"

"That's the signal of a new Rocket blasting off!"


"New Pokemon are good, but so are new recruits."

"You're crazy," I sputtered, "why should I go with you after you just stole all my Pokemon?!"

The three smiled knowingly at each other. "If you change your mind, we'll be at Celadon's Game Corner next week."

I was sure I wouldn't change my mind.

Jessie wanted to join Team Rocket. I was amazed. We'd done a few illegal things, but that was nothing compared to joining such a notorious criminal organisation. And we were supposed to like Pokemon!

She said she didn't care what I thought, I was just jealous because she was going to become even better than me. I didn't follow her logic, but it set me thinking.

After she left for Celadon, and I was alone, I looked at my options. I probably could have gone home, but I wouldn't have been trusted for years, or let out the house for that matter. My only Pokemon was a Raticate, after the others had been stolen. I did want to keep being a trainer; I liked it, and I wanted to keep Raticate. I had no money, but I had guts, I was strong...

I knew it, I was going to join Team Rocket. And I was going to be better than Jessie. Much, much better.

I went, and entered training to be a Rocket. It wasn't very extensive, and most of it was fairly obvious rules for stealing. I think anyone would know to keep a low profile, to not show fear of the police, to lie blatantly.

I was still alone. Jessie was not, she had a friend in training, that she knew when she went to Pokemon Tech and rode around in a bicycle gang. She didn't have any parents, so she could do what she liked, and meet more people than I did. I'd met him, James, a couple of times before, but grew to dislike him quite a bit in those training weeks. Probably in part the way Jessie would grab his arm and smirk at me, as if to properly highlight the obvious truth that she had a friend and I did not.

There was the satisfaction of hearing one of our instructors tell Jessie that friendship was not something that Team Rocket was particularly active in promoting. She blushed, apparently not realising she had been so obvious.

Dreams, dreams... I never really dreamed of being a Pokemon Master specifically. I just dreamed about being one of the best at something. Someone respected. Well, there was no reason why one could not enforce respect through fear. I learned the lessons of Team Rocket. I knew them. And then, I lived by them.

Despite Team Rocket's thoughts on friendship, partnership was strongly encouraged. In scheming, two heads were better than one, in intimidation, two can generally overpower an individual, in number of Pokemon able to fight at once... and two people could trust each other's backs - trust, what a joke in the world of crime, but it was necessary between partners.

Jessie got partnered with James, of course. Before we were even assigned, I heard them practising some speech they made up together.

I didn't really want to go solo, and I felt nervous in a group. So I was assigned a random partner, a total stranger. His real name wasn't common knowledge, he was known by his nickname, 'Butch'. Apparently, it was short for 'Butcher'. Had mental images of some psychopath who cleaved anyone who annoyed him with large axes.

Instead, a perfectly normal-looking guy, maybe even a little good looking, came up to me and said that I was his partner. He had been a Rocket only a little longer than I had; he had 'field experience', as it were, but found going solo to not suit him, despite his quiet nature.

Loudmouth Cassidy and Butch got along okay. In some of our situations, we had to depend on each other, had to trust each other, and when we realised we could rely on the other person, we grew a little more comfortable with the idea of being partners.

I was making my way in the world. Stealing Pokemon proved much easier than catching them. Butch and I were a good team.

One night, we both lay out under the stars, having had our tents, ironically, stolen while we were making a raid on a Pokemon lab.

It was as it used to be. Everything else faded into insignificance. All there was was me and Butch, the sky and the stars and the forest. The world *was* mine! It was ours. And if it wasn't, we would make it ours. In the dark, Butch grabbed my hand and squeezed it. I wondered if he was thinking the same thing.

He never said very much. But at that moment, I think our minds were in sync. Not long after that, I found out that Jessie and James had actually been called in to the boss - imagine seeing the boss of Team Rocket, imagine that privilege! - and given his prize Pokemon, a Meowth, to assist them. I was fuming when I found that out.

"Cassy, relax," said Butch easily.

"I'm perfectly relaxed! I can't believe that stupid conceited twit managed to get in the boss's favour! IMAGINE her getting THE Meowth! I bet I'm twice as good as her! But nooo, he entrusts his most valued -"

"If he got rid of it so easily, I doubt it was that valued. He probably wanted to get rid of it and dumped it on the nearest Rockets."

I stopped in mid-rant and stared at him.

"Besides," he continued calmly, "we're too good to need some stupid Meowth's assistance."

His lips twitched as he said this, and I suddenly burst out laughing.

"That's, hehee, a good point... imagine the losers that suck so bad they have to have the help of a stupid CAT!"

Before long, we were both laughing hard, and I forgot my rivalry with Jessie for a bit. Who needed Jessie? Butch was a much better friend than she was.

I don't think I particuarly enjoyed stealing. Hearing Pokemon whimper for their trainer, or try to attack us in defiance whenever it saw us. Having to subtly turn our faces aside or enter the nearest building when we saw a police officer down the street. Seeing trainers' expressions darken when they saw us. But they did respect me, or respected the threat I posed.

I wouldn't think that many people particularly relish being criminals. As for me, it's just something I have to do. I sometimes wondered what my parents thought of the daughter they had encouraged to do well in something. Well, I was doing very well in crime, thank you. I felt quite proud when I first saw my face in a newspaper, although it made things more precarious for us.

Jessie's success rate was down since that Meowth entered their team. Maybe it was sabotaging them. Whatever the deal was, they hadn't brought in a new Pokemon for a while. I was pleased, and for a moment, surprised at myself. When had Jessie stopped being a friend and suddenly my greatest enemy? Rivalry was powerful. Her beating me the first time meant that I had to beat her in return. That was just the way I was. Typical Scorpio, or whatever the stupid explanation is.

And being a Rocket enforced those feelings. The lifestyle, the training, the mottos of Team Rocket, to revenge people who got the better of you.

As our success rate soared, we got our first call from The Boss himself! He promoted us, giving us license to make use of money from the Team Rocket treasury and set up elaborate schemes. Maximum theivery potential. Our exalted rank required more thought from us, more drive, more craftiness. I think we delivered. All we had to do was copy establishments that brought in a lot of Pokemon, corrupt it, and help ourselves.

Maybe I wasn't good at school smarts, but I could think practically. Butch was the opposite in that respect. So, I dealt with brainstorming ideas and dealing with problems, while he was stuck with managing our finances and researching new possibilities.

After going about as far as we could safely go with a fake photography parlour - send in your Pokemon to have snaps taken, then don't see it again - we discreetly closed shop and left town.

"We haven't targeted Cerulean yet," I said thoughtfully, as we walked through Celadon Forest, lugging bags brimming with Pokeballs. "That's the only main city around here that we've not set up a business in."

"Good place for a next target?"

"Not sure. The police would expect us to go there, because I think they'll think we'll think it's safer."


Instead, we went to Amber City, south of Fuchsia. Butch had a Pidgeot that we often used to travel long distances, although he refused to use it in battles, for reasons he would not disclose. Even though we trusted each other, we did not tell each other a lot.

We were careful. All of our schemes had us wearing slightly different masks, and tinted contacts. One adapted to these things as a matter of course. They were a necessity. We established a breeding centre, a new trend in the world of Pokemon. The beauty of this was, people would expect us to have their Pokemon for a few weeks, so we could stay open for a few weeks, accepting more and more new admissions, before leaving.

We weren't worried. Why should we have been?

We were careful. Jessie showed up, obviously to ruin our plans, but I smoothly disposed of her. I was quite proud of myself, and so lucky the cops didn't recognise me. How foolish of me to just believe me! But all went well. We had some good Pokemon stored up. Shame to have to stuff them all in cages like that, but surely Pokemon must be used to such things, after being in Pokeballs for so long, it must be an improvement.

We weren't even considering packing up early. We were going to see it through.

It was a good plan. The boss even said so. It all backfired though. People came to challenge us, and I thought Raticate, who had so much experience, could hold them back. The brat's Pikachu knocked it out in one hit. One hit! Unbelievable! He was exactly in the place I wanted to be when I started training. A winner, undefeatable, confident.

Why could he do it and I couldn't?


I thought I could do it. I thought I could be the best. I had two different dreams, but both the same, to be the best... with a best friend for each... but both of them are gone now... there's nobody to share this cell with. What a dream! What a useless dream!

I thought I was making my way in the world. I was making the world know me. The way I've gone is wrong...

It's night now. If I move a little left of the window and crane my neck just right, I can see a star. What good is the night sky now? The world is locked outside. Despite my high opinion of myself, there is still nobody to care if I am in here or not.

Going back to the bed - the bed in this cell is so uncomfortable, I'd almost rather sleep on the floor - I sit and stare silently at the door, which stands as it always does, dark and solid and uncaring. Everything is terribly, terribly silent. I breathe loudly just to have something to listen to. I did not want to go solo. I still don't.

I sigh and lie down. I guess I should sleep. There isn't anything else to do. But as I lie in silence, I hear a tiny pattering. It is definitely in my cell. For a brief moment, I think someone has come to help me get out. That is stupid. And it isn't true. But what it is is almost as good.

The sound is a familiar one, somehow. I fumble around, trying to find what is making the noise. A clattering of claws. I know the sound. My own Pokemon made it once.

Eventually, my hands find it, my fingers close over a tail. It is a Rattata. I do not know how it got in here, although I'm sure places like this are infested with rats and other horrible creatures. But a rat is not horrible. Not to me. Rattata are not quite rats anyway. Rats can't understand you, but Pokemon can.

Suddenly I understand. As I stroke the rat on my lap, and talk to it, it understands me and doesn't run away. It is pleased to have someone appreciate it. I feel exactly the same. I understand this. It is a new beginning. It is what that brat with the Pikachu had.

I can't see it from the bed, but I know my star is still there. It is still shining.

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