Rocket Resistance

Chapter One – Rocket Resistance

Bitter winds ghosted through a depressed city, snaking between stark buildings constructed of brick and mortar. Viridian City submerged itself within nature, its dull hues set against a background of green as rolling grasslands canvassed the southern trails and dense forests towered both to the north and the east.

Black clouds had wrested control of the skies from the sun and imprisoned the light within their cheerless embrace, the menacing gloom rendering a hopeful morning grim.

 Leaves softly rustled in the breeze, lightly dancing in tune with one another above Erik’s head as branches creaked and groaned in a fragile symphony. He stood on the precipice of Viridian’s eastern forest, concealed within the treeline alongside his three comrades of war. A deafening silence had washed over the quartet, each young trainer as anxious as the other as a sense of foreboding strangled their emotions.  

 Erik studied their target building and tried to memorise each detail of the structure from its plain, white stone walls and the scarcely present narrow windows to a small crimson-coloured door. An oaken sign proceeded the building, clearly stating in bold font, “Kanto Test Centre”.

 “Can we go through the plan one more time please?” Wally enquired. The trainer from Hoenn appeared visibly nervous, clutching anxiously to the yellow facemask by his side with one hand as he twitched at his lime-green hair with the other. “And can you tell Blue to stop bullying Green?”

 “I can’t help it,” replied the man in question. His chestnut-brown eyes matched the colour of his hair, which was short and messy. He wore a leather jacket and jeans, blue in colour as was the instruction. “Look at Leaf over here, no wonder her parents called her that she’s shaking like a Leaf!”

 “Codenames please,” Leaf replied, her usually assured voice laced with apprehension. Erik had noticed Blue taking a shine to her, with Leaf’s light brown skin and dark, fluffy hair possibly alluring the carefree trainer, or maybe he simply was just a bully. Although Leaf exerted noticeable signs of irritation, Blue appeared either not to realise, or not to care. “You’re Blue,” the female trainer continued. “Erik’s Red, Wally is Yellow and I’m to be called Green. It’s why we have have masks and clothes of that colour, to disguise us.”

“Nah,” Blue retorted, waving a hand as if to push away the suggestion. “I think I will call you ‘Leaf’. Besides, we are only wearing these masks and calling ourselves colours ‘cos it’s funny.”

 “And for disguise,” Erik repeated Leaf’s assertions, ailing in his attempts to display his authority. He had assumed the role of leader within the self-styled “Rocket Resistance” since the group had landed upon the shores of Kanto six months ago. He felt his tightened muscles relax as he recalled the other passengers aboard Mr. Briney’s pearl-white yacht; The old sailor himself had returned to his native Hoenn after his passengers had disembarked, resuming a well-earned retirement. News reporters Gabby and Ty had also journeyed with the company, hastily using their contacts within the global media to land employment at “Kanto National News”. Their roles as lead reporters for the network were but a guise to harvest information from the Rocket-owned media outlet. Wally had joined him on the boat, as did Leaf who had called herself Cecilia back in those days. She was born ‘Leaf Fuguri’, but decided to change her name when she had left her home province of Johto and travelled to Hoenn, hoping to assume a new life with a new name. After returning to Kanto she had decided to resume her birthname, Leaf, so that her parents would hear of any successes she had whilst on Kanto’s land.

The final passenger, Erik’s own mother Caroline, spent her son’s monetary winnings for becoming Pokemon Champion of Hoenn on a modest home nestled neatly within the humble hamlet of Pallet Town for both herself and Erik to live. The household rapidly became the Rocket Resistance’s base of operations in Kanto, before the group swiftly allied themselves with a powerful local figure, Professor Oak.

Kanto still bore Rocket’s dictatorial ruleset. Trainers remained officially prohibited from the region despite a growing uproar, and Pokemon captured outside of Kanto were outlawed from use, forcing Erik and Wally to arrive empty handed. Leaf’s Pokemon had perished at the beaches during the “Battle of Hoenn”, a fierce fight in which Rocket forces engaged Hoenn in an attempt to capture the region, failing as the defenders pushed them back to Kanto. The result of this left the Rocket Resistance with no fighting Pokemon to their names.

 Before long, hopeful rumours had crept through Pallet Town and pricked Erik’s ears. Whisperings from neighbours had informed him that Professor Oak, a renowned researcher of western Kanto and owner of the Pokemon laboratory, felt dissatisfied with Team Rocket’s tyrannical rule of the region.

 “So Erik?” Wally’s nervy voice carved through Erik’s brief moment of reminiscence. “Are you going to go through the plan again?”

 “It’s easy,” Blue barged in, his know-it-all tone and egotistical demeanour irritating even Erik. “We go in, blow stuff up, kidnap Giovanni’s son, and get out of there.”

 “You make it sound so simple,” Leaf snapped sarcastically before rolling her eyes.

 “We act natural,” Erik said, speaking as if Blue hadn’t uttered a word. “Entering the Test Centre as if we were to use it. We know Rocket’s game, they own the facility, upping the pass requirements and offering anyone who fails the test a forged trainer’s licence in exchange for joining the gang. Everyone knows that trainers will be permitted again in Kanto any day now so a lot of people are taking their tests, and failing.”

 “Which is why Giovanni has sent his own son in there, to oversee the process,” Leaf realised, speaking with a gasp.

 “Well caught up Leaf!” Blue taunted her. “Next you’ll find out we’re attacking this place because it’s secretly ran by Team Rocket.”

 “Would you be quiet Blue!” she snapped back. “You’re only here because your grandfather insisted you came along.”

 “Stop fighting please,” Wally squeaked with no conviction at all.

 “Stop,” Erik echoed with rather more force. “Our goal is to locate, capture, and extract Giovanni’s son whilst looking to hinder their operation in any way we can. You know, burning any forged licences or taking down any employed Rocket grunts.”

 “We should just burn the place down,” Blue snarled.

 “Then no one will be able to become a trainer you idiot,” Leaf countered.

 “What do we do with our ‘target’ once we have him?” Wally asked, attempting to shift the focus from the bickering duo and return it to the plan of action.

 “Whilst we attack here and draw Rocket’s attention, Archie, the head of Hoenn’s armed forces, will be covertly lead-”

 “Wow finally some help from Hoenn,” Blue interrupted. “We’ve been attacking at Rocket supplies, grunts and facilities for months now on our own!”

 “Archie struggled to gather an army, since Rocket were forced from Hoenn the whole government and regional structures needed reforming,” Wally replied, as if repeating words he’d heard from someone back in Hoenn. “It took them six months to recruit enough trainers rather than the planned two. Most people wanted to help rebuild Hoenn or celebrate their newfound freedom at home.”

 “Archie will be covertly leading-” Erik spoke louder, as if to overshadow Blue. “An army raised in Hoenn to the southeastern shores of Kanto, landing at Fuchsia City and eliminating any resistance before Rocket have time to react.”

 “How’s he going to sneak into Kanto without being caught? And won’t Rocket just send everything they’ve got towards Archie?” Wally enquired skeptically.

 “It’s Archie,” Leaf replied fondly. “A master of the seas.”

 “And to answer your second question,” Erik added. “That’s why we are capturing Giovanni’s son, Silver. We will hold him at Pallet Town unbeknownst to Rocket and use him as a deterrent to a counter attack.”

 “You think that will stop them?” Blue said and rolled his eyes.

 “It will delay them whilst they decide what to do, giving Archie time to fortify Fuchsia. The plan is to build barricades, lay down spike traps and all sorts to fully defend the cycle road to the west, whilst blowing the bridges over the giant lake that encompasses the east of the city. The Hoenn trainers’ natural water superiority should make the south and east a cinch to defend.”

 “You’ll still fail, Rocket’s got too much manpower and resources.” Blue crossed his arms stubbornly.

 “All divided,” Leaf caught on. “With us causing trouble in the west, the Hoenn army holding Fuchsia and the main bulk of the Rocket force still at war in Johto, we have a chance.”

 “No you don’t,” Blue spoke with a mocking tone. “What’s the plan after that, to just sit in Fuchsia?”

 “That’s for Archie and I to know,” Erik replied with a knowing wink to Leaf, who returned a smile.

 “Can we talk about the here and now?” Wally interrupted, anxiety firmly grasping his body and causing his features to twitch as if volts of electricity flowed through his veins.
“What do we know about Giovanni’s son? And why are we wearing masks and calling ourselves colours like him?”

 “Because-” Erik started.

 “Because it’s funny,” Blue interrupted, repeating his earlier comment.

 “Blue stop cutting in,” Erik snapped. “It’s not like your name of ‘Blue’ isn’t similar to ‘Silver’. Your grandfather gave you some Pokemon for us to use, care to hand them out?”

 “Jeez, calm down, just having a laugh,” Blue said, his face forming an expression as if he’d just been struck. The young hotshot trainer from Pallet Town unclipped three Pokeballs one at a time from his belt, rolling them to each Resistance member.

 “Because,” Erik continued answering Wally’s earlier question whilst casting anticipating glances over to Blue, awaiting a snide comment that never came. “Silver is Giovanni’s only son, his lone heir. He’s known to be irrational and prone to fits of rage, if we mock him by calling ourselves after him, wearing masks like he does and being constant thorns in his side, we can get to him. And if we get to Silver we get to Giovanni.”

 “I never knew Giovanni had a son,” Leaf pondered, as a Pokeball rolled towards her, landing with a bump on her foot.

 “Silver has spent most of his life underground, out of the public eye,” Erik responded, picking up the Pokeball that had landed at his feet and studying the capsule. “Rumours are that Courtney is his mother, but the timing is all wrong. Other rumours say one of Giovanni’s many flings ended with a son, no one really knows.”

 “We’ve spent six months finding out all we can on Rocket and still know nothing about them, apart from Giovanni is there leader, which no one else in Kanto seems to realise for some reason, and that Courtney and Silver are his two most trusted allies,” Blue whined, receiving a glare from Leaf in response.

 “No one realises because Giovanni is always seen alongside the governor of Kanto, he’s a well known public figure,” Leaf said excitedly after a momentary silence. “When Rocket gangs terrorise the region he makes sure to always be seen next to the governor, in his role of ‘Foreign Minister’.”

 “He always seems to be in two places at once,” Blue mumbled. “Even I don’t fully believe that he leads them.”

 “Why does Silver wear the mask?” Wally asked, progressing the conversation as he released the Pokemon from inside his Pokeball. A Pikachu bounced out, her energetic demeanour brightening up the dim day.

 “Like everything else to do with Rocket, we don’t know,” Blue said sarcastically, shaking his head and folding his arms once more.

 “No one knows,” Erik corrected him. “I think it’s for intimidation, that’s why his voice sounds deep and mechanical, he has a voice filter attached underneath.”

 “Weirdo,” Leaf chimed, as a Bulbasaur emerged from her own Pokeball. “It’s cute!” she almost squealed, before remembering the need to not bring attention to themselves. “I’m going to call him Dino.”

 “Why do you nickname your Pokemon? They’re not your friends, they’re your warriors,” Blue spat out, before casting a glance to the Squirtle from his own Pokeball.

 “She does it because I do,” Erik responded, after deciding to name his Charmander, ‘Inferno’. “It creates deeper bonds between you and your Pokemon. Remember, Blue, that the most powerful trainers create the strongest bonds between themselves and their ‘friends’, no matter the type or the species.”

 “Can we just get this over with,” Blue said then sighed, his Squirtle curiously stroking his shell with an undersized blue paw. Dino galloped over towards Inferno, assessing his comrade with both sight and touch. Leaf’s Bulbasaur examined the Charmander’s orange frame, before moving towards his pale belly with vines, sprouting from the hefty seed affixed to his back. Inferno scowled uncomfortably, before flicking his tail at Dino, the flame secured to its tip narrowly avoiding Leaf’s Pokemon.

 “Let’s go,” Erik commanded his team, returning his newly acquired Pokemon into its capsule and marching out of the treeline like a soldier towards the battlefield. Adrenaline surged through his body as he emerged into Viridian City, his gaze firmly fixated towards Team Rocket’s facility.

 “Right behind you,” Wally replied, as the masked comrades stalked the city, silently creeping along cobbled pavement towards the Test Centre. Once they had reached the building, Erik clasped Inferno’s Pokeball, before pushing open the crimson front door.

 A remarkable room was fronted by expensive glass tables lined with lavish mahogany chairs. Computer monitors lay dotted across the reception room, for the purpose of quick study by hopeful trainers-in-waiting. White stone walls lay decked with paintings of famous Pokemon trainers from the region, from Kanto Champion Lance posing elegantly to Gym Leaders Erika and Brock flashing their Pokemon licences. The reception had changed since Erik gained his licence here almost two years ago, it had transformed from a plain, simple entrance room, to an extravagant welcoming area.  

 “Welcome,” a female receptionist mumbled tentatively as the four masked figures strolled into the room, their footsteps clapping off the tiled white floor. “Can I help you?” she followed, as her arms noticeably lowered from atop her desk.

 “She’s triggering a silent alarm!” Leaf blurted. She had used the facility rather more recently than Erik, obtaining her trainer’s licence whilst performing some minor surveillance of the area just two months ago.

 Erik threw his Charmander’s Pokeball into the air, the fire-typed creature’s emergence signalling to his three allies to release their Pokemon as a swarm of Rocket grunts flowed out of one of the many hallways branching out from the reception room.

 “They’ve upped their security, Silver must be somewhere down that hallway,” Leaf remarked as a score of grunts released their own Pokemon into the room. The receptionist launched two of her own Pokeballs, the capsules releasing a duo of Zubats to join fellow Rattata, Koffing and Grimer.

 “You guys must be the so called ‘Rocket Resistance’? There’s only four of you?!” a grunt spoke as the opposing sides stood almost frozen in place, awaiting the other’s first move.

 “Get this over with quickly,” Erik spoke to his team. “Before more show up.”

 “Squirtle!” Blue commanded his water-typed Pokemon. “Let’s show them what we’re made of!” His creature growled in response, before blowing away a Rattata with a water blast. Chaos ensued.

 Erik struggled to keep up with the battle, he spotted Wally’s Pikachu fry the receptionist’s Zubats with electricity, before a ferocious Koffing smothered Leaf’s Bulbasaur in toxic fumes. His own Pokemon, Inferno, launched flames at any and all foes who approached, engulfing a flailing Zubat in fire before igniting a Grimer. Erik switched his glance back to Leaf’s Pokemon, who had now been saved by Blue’s Squirtle. Wally’s Pokemon had now engaged in quickfire combat with a Rattata, the small rodent like creature darting across a table in forlorn efforts to avoid oncoming electric bolts.

 Turbulent seconds passed rapidly, until nothing but desolation remained. Thin streams of smoke swam through the air, emanating from scorch marks engraved on plain tiled floors and white stone walls. The reception area that had quickly become a warzone now featured glass tables splintered and smashed, wooden chairs toppled sideways and even a few computer monitors sparking on the ground. The grunts clad in hues of black and purple that had hurled their Pokemon at the masked quartet, in desperate but vain attempts to halt the intruders, were now fleeing en masse.

 “Stop!” a deep voice boomed, reverberating off the walls of a hallway as it passed retreating Team Rocket grunts. “What is the meaning of this?!” the large man continued as he struggled into the reception room, his hefty frame jiggling with each strenuous step.

 “Nigel.” The name rang like a hiss in Erik’s mind as he recognised the plump figure. Nigel was the chief examiner here at the Test Centre, a man whose very frame personified greed and corruption.

 “I repeat,” Nigel’s deep voice echoed around the room. “What is the meaning of this?”

 “Red? Wanna tell him or should I?” Blue asked Erik, who replied with a nod towards Inferno. Scalding flames burst from his Charmander, igniting Nigel’s sandals resulting in a high-pitched squeal from the examiner.

 “Get out of here,” Erik said darkly. Nigel complied without question, the flaming sandals abandoned on the cold floor. “Think I took things a little too far?” he asked Wally, after feeling his companions accusing eyes check him, his voice remained cold.

 “Erm..” Wally hesitated in his reply.

 “It’s just know..” Leaf attempted to speak for Wally, but also found the words too difficult to come by without causing Erik direct offence.

 “After what, Leaf?” Erik snapped coolly.

 “Woah calm down Red,” Blue said. “I only meant talk to the fat guy, but nevermind, you’re the boss, boss.”

 “I want to know what Leaf was going to say,” Erik continued, refusing to drop the subject.

 “She meant that after, erm, May..” Wally spoke, before trailing off after saying the name of Erik’s one-time lover.

 “And your father, and your favourite Pokemon Blaze..” Leaf carried on, before Erik cut her off.

 “Were all killed by Team Rocket, so what?” Erik’s words were met by momentary silence. He knew that they weren’t all killed solely by Rocket, it was mainly his own mistakes, but being able to focus his pain on one source was the only thing that allowed him to keep going.

 “You’ve changed.” It was Wally who spoke, although Erik could tell the young trainer dressed in yellow immediately regretted being the one to say it.

 “You were always so bright and hopeful. You wanted to take down evil because you thought it was the right thing to do. You wanted to prove yourself to everyone, especially your dad,” Leaf continued, causing anger to flare up within Erik, how dare she and Wally bring this up.

 “Now you’re just always angry, you don’t care about anything other than revenge,” Wally added.

 “Can we do this later? Those Rocket lapdogs all ran off to the same place, that’s where Silver will be. Let’s get this done before backup gets here!” Blue raised his voice, diverting the trio’s attention.

 “For the first time in his life, Blue Oak has become the voice of reason,” Erik thought to himself, finding the fact ironically humourous. “Fine. But this isn’t over,” he spoke aloud, casting resentful glances at both Wally and Leaf.

 The Rocket Resistance recalled their Pokemon in unison, before picking up their pace as they jogged down the hallway. The corridor remained as it did all those years ago when Erik first took his test, in contrast to the luxurious reception room, the hallway remained plain. Claustrophobia reigned as white stone walls seemed to almost close in on them, the only escape being through one of few chestnut brown flimsy-looking doors. Most remarkably, there were no Rocket grunts in sight.

 “Where’ve they all gone?” Erik asked as they reached the end of the hallway, to be met by another door.

 “Isn’t this a little too easy?” Wally added. “Like, wouldn’t you expect more resistance?”

 “They’re all off fighting in Johto,” Leaf said. “That’s why they haven’t struck at Hoenn yet, they’re focused on Johto first.”

 “I guess the response teams have all been directed to Fuschia,” Erik said and smiled. “This is all going better than expected. Hopefully Archie can hold up his end.”

 “We ready?” Blue chimed, Pokeball in hand as Red moved his hand to the door. Beads of sweat swam from his skin to soak the door knob, Erik felt almost dizzy with nervous anticipation, expecting to find a barricade of Rocket grunts acting as a shield to their leader within.

 “We’re ready,” he replied, before twisting the knob and opening the door. He charged inside, Inferno’s Pokeball held ahead of him like a weapon, his comrades close behind.

 “Welcome, Rocket Resistance,” boomed a mechanical voice as the quartet of trainers entered the room. A tall, slender man hulked at the far end of a stretched, narrow room. The walls were constructed of white tiles, bespeckled with small, round holes with what appeared to be two rectangular silhouettes carved into the tiles, one on either side of the room. The bright lighting and television screens either end of the room only added to the feeling of a test chamber, or a long, narrow padded cell.

 “Silver,” Erik said through gritted teeth, taking note of Giovanni’s son appearing to be the sole occupant of the strange corridor-esque hallway. Silver was indeed intimidating with blood-red hair that flowed to his shoulders. He bore a coal black, leather jacket which clung to his body and appeared fireproof, with matching dark trousers. But most eerie was his infamous facemask, a mechanical horror firmly affixed to Giovanni’s son, enveloping him from forehead to throat. The only human features on what he called his face were a thin line passing as lips, and his scarlet eyes which flared with perpetual rage.

 “Erik,” came the reply. The modifier attached to the throat section Silver’s mask caused his voice’s to deepen and amplify, sounding almost robotic as it bounced off the walls. “Blue Oak too. Then two I don’t know. Nobodies.”

 Erik felt both Wally and Leaf tense behind him, he could sense their fear of the man. But to him, Silver was just that, a man, dressed up to frighten the weak.

 “I don’t like this, Red,” Blue spoke in hushed tones. “There’s no Rocket grunts around, got to be a trap.”

 “I sense your fear,” Silver spoke as if he fed off the tension.

 “You’re done, Silver,” Erik responded, moving forward.

 “Red, wait!” Blue called after him, to no avail.

 “Come, Erik, let us see who the better trainer is,” Silver spoke as he rolled a Pokeball out of his sleeve, allowing it to fall into his hand.

 “When you lose, you’re coming with us,” Erik growled, picking up the pace and almost jogging towards Silver, Inferno’s Pokeball firmly clasped in his hand.

 “It’s over,” Silver spoke as smoke began trickling from holes in the walls at the room’s midpoint as Erik passed through. “The resistance ends here.” Giovanni’s son lifted a hand into the air, then swiftly swiped through the air as if he were signalling something.

 Suddenly, fire flew from smoking holes in the walls, covering a portion of the corridor in thick swathes of flame and splitting the room in half, trapping Erik with Silver. The silhouettes in the tiled walls suddenly lowered, becoming doorways for a legion of Rocket grunts to pour out of, like blood from a fresh wound.

 “Erik!” Wally screamed, pulling his Pikachu’s Pokeball from his belt in self-defence as he caught sight of the Rocket Resistance leader trapped behind a dam of fire. Leaf and Blue joined him in releasing their Pokemon to battle against Zubat, Rattata, Koffing and Grimer.

 “Just you and I, Silver,” Erik hissed as he flicked his attention from his friends to his enemy.

 Silver’s response was silent, his glare so intense and filled with pure anger and hatred it caused even Erik to recoil slightly.

 “Let’s do this, Inferno,” Erik whispered to his Pokeball before launching it, his Charmander emerging from within. Silver responded with a Pokemon of his own, an Abra, the amber coloured psychic creature’s body featured yellow interiors and bore brown on both his shoulders and chest.  

 “You ready?” Silver taunted, before rolling another Pokeball out of his sleeve and releasing it, a Zubat. Before long Silver had rolled two more out his other sleeve, a Magnemite and a Gastly.

 “Always,” Erik responded, deciding whether he should order his Charmander to attack the ghostly ball of gas known as Gastly first, as it appeared the weakest, or to use his type advantage to positive effect on the spherical steel frame of Magnemite. The decision was wrenched from him.

 A howl screamed from behind the flames, causing Erik to turn his head. Wally’s Pikachu lay prone, a duo of Zubat greedily sucking at his lifeforce. Blue’s Squirtle fared no better, having retreated inside his shell as a horde of Rattata smashed their fangs against the tough shield. Dino had retreated towards his trainer, protecting Leaf with vines, smacking away a score of Koffing and Grimer who eagerly approached.

 A wave of heat crashed upon Erik’s skin causing him to rapidly divert his vision towards Inferno, who had unleashed flame against Silver’s Zubat. Streams of electricity burst from the Magnemite, electrifying the distracted Charmander as Abra summoned a sphere of psychic energy, launching the attack at Erik’s Pokemon.

More howls of torture emanated from behind. Blue’s Squirtle had fallen in battle, a Koffing had flooded the shell with poisonous fumes, forcing the creature to emerge into an ambush of bloodthirsty Rattata. Wally’s Pikachu had been saved by Leaf’s Bulbasaur, Dino using his vines to whip the Zubat for a temporary respite.

“Surrender,” Silver demanded, before seeing his Zubat crash to the floor in flames. Inferno had scorched the creature with embers to a muted response from Giovanni’s son, as if all that had happened was one of his tools had broken.

“I won’t let my friends down!” Erik roared, his fiery passion and steel determination filling his Pokemon with raw fight and energy. Inferno batted away the Gastly’s sneak attack with claws, before resuming his barrage of flames against Silver’s fighters. Magnemite swirled through the air, effortlessly performing a pirouette passed roaring fireballs before unleashing further volts of electricity at the Charmander. Gastly and Abra combined their attacks, spiritual and psychic energy fused together into a sphere swirling fuschia and violet.

Erik grimaced. Inferno remained weak from the constant assault and was a mere hatchling in terms of battle experience, the chances he’d survive the spherical strike were slim at best. He tentatively moved his hand towards his Pokeball, shaking at disgust in his imminent failure and capture.

“Stop!” Erik yelled. “I can’t see a good Pokemon killed because of my foolish actions.”

“You surrender because you can’t see a Pokemon fall in battle like my Zubat did? You weak fool,” Silver taunted him.

“That’s the difference between you and me,” Erik replied weakly. “Humanity.”

“Hold!” Silver roared, his voice colliding with the tiled walls and echoing throughout the room, his grunts and their Pokemon rendered motionless by the call. Dino and Pikachu slumped to the floor, exhausted, before being recalled into the Pokeballs by their trainers.

“You have failed,” Silver said tonelessly, with no hint of triumph or any sign of delight. The flames which split the room stopped suddenly as Silver raised his arm back into the air, all that remained from the pits of fire was smoke.

“This isn’t over,” Erik retorted, desperately racking his brains for a plan.

“Oh but it is,” Silver spoke menacingly. “You think the assault on Fuschia City will be a success.”

 Erik gasped in horror. He felt his soul leave his body and heart skip a few beats as sweat poured down his face. The attack on Fuschia was engineered to take Rocket by complete surprise.

“How did you..” Erik could only manage a whisper before Silver cut him off.

“My father knows all. Today the Rocket Resistance ends. My role is to capture the leader, you, and annihilate your followers.”

“And… Fuschia?”

“I’ll show you,” Silver replied, as he clenched his raised hand into a fist, causing the television screens to burst into life.

“As you can see,” Gabby and Ty reported from Fuchsia City. The camera floated on a helicopter above a battered and singed beach. Archie with his lieutenants Mylos and Grant fled the scene, their landing party decimated by Team Rocket. “The Hoenn assault on our fine region has been repelled by Kanto Defence Minister Courtney, wife of esteemed Viridian Gym Leader and Kanto Foreign Minister, Giovanni.”

“No..” Erik gasped once more, as Archie boarded a powerboat and fled with what remained of his army.

“Hand over your Pokeball,” Silver demanded, Erik complied, grabbing onto the capsule and extending his hand.

“Maybe,” Erik thought to himself, hatching a plan he had been formulating in his mind. “I have no chance of escape, but my friends do. All the Rocket grunts are still on the other side of the door, they’ve only released their Pokemon into the room, if I arm Blue with Inferno..”

“Stop hesitating,” Silver snapped.

“You’re a man who likes to be in control,” Erik spoke with a sly smile.

“And what?”

“Run!” Erik roared to his friends, as he launched his Charmander’s Pokeball across the room towards Blue, and raised his other hand into the air.

“Grunts get them!” Silver commanded, as he signalled for his Magnemite to render Erik unconscious with an electric shock.

“Run!” Leaf heard the shout surge through the room towards them, as a Pokeball flew towards them, landing on the tilled ground with a thud and rolling in their direction. Blue instantly reacted, sprinting towards the Charmander’s capsule.

“Grunts get them!” She then heard Silver shout in the confused mess. The Television screen still showing Hoenn soldiers knocked unconscious before being dragged off to assumed imprisonment.

 Leaf shifted her gaze towards Erik, who had raised a hand, before giving her a wink and a smile. He swiped his arm downwards at a rapid pace before Silver’s Magnemite shocked him, rendering her friend unconscious.

 In response to Erik’s swipe through the air, flames burst from the walls once more, splitting the room in two as the doors raised themselves upwards and trapped the Rocket grunts behind. Stranded Rocket Pokemon remained clueless as to their trainers instructions, split from their trainers by thick tilled walls.

“Genius,” Leaf cried. “All these contraptions are triggered by hand movements, because Silver feels the need to be in control. Erik worked that out and has given us a chance to get out of here!”

“Then let’s go,” Blue shouted impatiently, as Silver raised a hand into the air to stop the flames and reopen the doors.

“What about Erik?” Wally wailed.

“No time! They’re coming!” Blue responded, and for once Leaf agreed with him.

“Come on, Yellow!” she shouted.

“But Leaf-” he stammered as she grabbed him and pulled the young trainer with them.

The trio bolted from the room, fleeing the facility after their failed mission. Erik had been captured, Archie and his army destroyed on the shores of Fuschia and the resistance remaining as Leaf herself, Blue, Wally and Professor Oak. They’d need to retreat to Pallet Town, but now Silver had identified Blue Oak, their greatest enemy was time.

“There they are!” a squad of grunts bellowed from the end of the corridor which led to the reception room.

“In here,” Blue said as he pushed open a door to their right, Wally and Leaf following him closely. He shut the door behind them, Wally and Leaf pushing a nearby couch to barricade the doorway as Blue held it firmly shut.

“What now?” Wally heaved as the trio caught their breath. Rocket grunts pounded on the door behind them before shouts of “go around” and “get your Pokemon to bash it down” could be heard. Leaf eyed the room. It was barren, almost empty.

“Wait a minute,” she said suddenly remembering. “This is the waiting room, I remember it from my test. Which means… Follow me!” she roared, bolting to the other side of the room and out of another doorway, into a corridor.

“Where are we going?” Blue demanded. Leaf paid him no heed, immediately bursting through a door in front of her and into a dimly lit room.

The room was huge, just as she remembered it. Two golden podiums lay cloaked in darkness to either side of a battle arena, with three Pokeballs resting atop each and a large hole compassing the centre of the mock stadium.

“The test room,” Blue Oak spoke, remembering the arena from his test many years ago. “Let’s split.”

“Lets,” Leaf agreed, sprinting towards the right podium as Blue bolted towards the left. Wally hesitated in confusion, before joining Leaf as Rocket grunts closed in.

“We got you now!” a grunt howled in glee.

“Not yet,” Blue replied as he launched the three Pokeballs atop the podium at the grunts, out emerged a Caterpie, Weedle and Rattata. Leaf did the same, her Pokemon being a Pidgey, Rattata and Mankey.

“Blue over here!” she bellowed, as the confused Pokemon did what they were bred to do, blocking the grunts at the entrance in the process. “I remember from my recon here, the back door behind this podium leads outside. For trainers leaving in humiliation and not wanting to trek back through the facility, or special guest battlers who wish to be examiners for a particular examinee.”

The three remainders of the Rocket Resistance departed the facility, racing back towards Pallet Town with nothing but a brief glance backwards. They unspokenly agreed to retreat back behind the treeline where they’d started the day.

“Are they following?” Wally panted as they entered the trees and concealed themselves behind a couple of thick oak trunks.

“No, think we lost them,” Blue responded, struggling to catch his breath.

“Erik..” Leaf spoke solemnly. He’d been captured, their leader and inspiration, as well as Archie’s strikeforce annihilated. “It’s left to us now.”

“But what can we do, they know we’ll be in Pallet Town.” Leaf had never heard Wally so downtrodden.

“We regroup at my Gramps’s lab,” Blue responded, slightly more optimistically, although now Silver had identified Blue Oak as a resistance member, they would target Professor Oak.

“Help from Hoenn gone, Erik gone, we might as well give up now,” Leaf said, her head feeling heavy.

“Stop being such a pansy, Leaf,” Blue said, before getting to his feet. “If you two are gonna sit here and cry then go ahead, but I’m heading back to Pallet Town.”

“Stop being such an idiot,” Leaf growled quietly, but Blue had already gone.

“Don’t let it bother you,” Wally comforted her.

“I hate it, I’m not scared of Rocket!”

“When I was young and at school, everyone used to make fun of my name,” Wally replied, lifting his head and looking Leaf in the eye. “I’m called Wally, it is funny! But I let it get to me and I was always so sad, everyone bullied me. Even the school loser, Billy, used to walk around and call me Wally the Wally, and I hated it, so much so that I tried changing my name.”

“But we all call you Wally?” Leaf spoke, puzzled.

“It was when I met Erik’s dad, Norman. I went to a special class on Pokemon training, type advantages and stuff. Anyway, he asked who knew about which types were super effective against normal-type Pokemon, and I shouted out ‘only fighting-type’. Billy then said, in front of everyone including a famous gym leader, ‘oh of course Wally the Wally would know’ and it made me cry. It was so embarrassing.”

“So what happened?”

“Norman came over to me and told me to embrace the name, if people saw it get to me then they had won. Wear it like your armour and bullies will bounce off it, it will make you strong.”

“So you’re saying I shouldn’t let his mean words affect me?”

“It will make you stronger, you’ll look back at this and it will remind you where you’ve come from.”

“That makes no sense,” Leaf said after a soft chuckle. She admired the sickly young adult, he had come a long way, and if someone as frail and fragile as him could be this strong, then she could learn a thing or two from him.

“It will, Leaf,” Wally said with a bright smile.

“Okay, I like that idea,” Leaf agreed. “We’ll need to all be strong to survive Rocket’s retaliation, we have almost nothing left.”

“We’ll manage, we always have.”