Where It All Began

Chapter Seventeen – Where It All Began

Charred and broken chips of wood entwined with the sharp shards of glass which blanketed the floor. Paintings hung loosely form the walls, most of which were either damaged or burnt beyond recognition. A glass table was smashed in two by a Tauros, which was a bull-like Pokemon but with even more muscle, three tails and a thick mane of hair around its neck. The beast had been aiming for a Team Rocket grunt but the low-level operative dived out of its path and joined his comrades in a mass retreat. They had been defeated and broken.

“Full retreat,” a voice sounded on the tannoy. Giovanni’s voice. “Abandon battlestations and initiate retreat protocol,” he said in a voice still completely calm.

“I will be the one who holds off the Resistance’s surge!” Nigel boomed. The hefty man with the enormous stomach stood at the edge of a corridor alongside his Pokemon: A Golem, a Golbat, an Onix, a Raichu, a Vileplume and a Ninetales.

“Just move out of our way,” Samuel Oak demanded of the man. “Your own resistance is now a futile effort. Your compatriots have bolted and your boss has sounded a full withdrawal.” Oak’s Tauros lowered its head and began preparing for a charge whilst his Gyarados awaited any of Nigel’s Pokemon to make their move. He had three other Pokemon who all remained close to the professor’s side. The first of which was a Blastoise, a bulky blue Pokemon who had two arms and legs with a titanic shell affixed to his back like a impenetrable shield. The turtle-like Pokemon also had two sizable cannons sprouting from within the shell which were now pointed towards the Ninetales and ready to fire an indomitable spray of water towards his foe.

“Arcanine,” Oak spoke to another one of his Pokemon, “get ready to flank at speed.” The fire-type was an impressively rapid creature with an orange and black pelt with thick cream-coloured fur sprouting from its chest, legs, tail, neck and head. The Pokemon stood just taller than its trainer and showed sharp fangs towards his opponent. Oak’s final Pokemon was the evolved form of Exeggcute, Exeggutor. The five eggs had combined into five different faces which went around the creature’s head. The grass-type had thick leaves sprouting from its head which, combined with its pale-brown coloured body, gave Leaf the impression of a pineapple, or a palm tree, with two thick legs.

“My team,” Leaf said to her Pokemon. “Flank left.” She nodded to Okaido who instructed his own Gyarados and Exeggutor, as well as a Rhyhorn, his Charizard, Pidgeot and Kadabra to flank right.

Nigel bolted. The fat man almost wobbled as he tried to flee and left his Pokemon to guard his own exit. He didn’t even turn around to see his Ninetales being annihilated by Loch and the two Gyarados’s combined water cannons. Or his Vileplume being roasted by the Charizard and Arcanines’ flamethrowers. Or his Golbat being swiped out of the sky by Pidgeot then charged by the Tauros. Despite Nigel having rounded the corner, the onslaught continued. Dino wrapped his vines around the Raichu for Club and Stomp to pound the captive creature. The Golem was devastated by psychic attacks from the two Exeggutors and Alakazam, and the Onix had been wrestled down by Belly then scorched by Heiko before being charged by Blue’s Rhyhorn and finished off by a water cannon from Oak’s Blastoise.

“Shall we proceed?” Samuel Oak asked his two comrades after the massacre.

“Let’s do this,” Okaido said nervously. Leaf smiled at him for reassurance but her attempts had no effect.

“Where will they be?” Leaf asked of her two counterparts but neither seemed to know a definitive answer.

The trio followed the corridor where Nigel and the grunts had fled and Leaf remembered that this was the corridor they had first taken when the Resistance had raided the Test Centre all those months ago.

“The battle arena?” Leaf said as they followed the pearl-white walls slick with paintings and doors. “That’s where they’re going?”

“A giant room ready to make their final stand,” Samuel Oak said.

“Makes sense,” Okaido agreed.

“How are you feeling?” Leaf asked of her friend. He had tricked Nigel into getting the information about the Test Centre and now appeared anxious as if what lay ahead may be too much for him to bear. When she had known him simply as Blue he had been so confident to the point of arrogance, but if the death of Wally had shaken him greatly then the revelation of his heritage had stripped his foolhardy persona to its core.

“Let’s just get this over with,” Okaido said uncertainly. They approached the door to the battle arena where students would be tested by the examiner, usually Nigel, to determine whether they were worthy of receiving a trainer’s licence or not. The pass rate had plummeted over the years with the failing students thereafter being offered a chance at keeping their dream of possessing Pokemon alive by joining Team Rocket at the rank of ‘grunt’.

“Ready?” Samuel Oak asked as he pressed a hand to the door, ready to push it open and face whatever awaited them inside.

“Always,” Leaf and Okaido replied in unison. Oak pushed open the door.

Inside were two podiums at either end of an arena marked by white chalk in the shape of a Pokeball. The arena was lit up brightly whereas previously the room had always been dimly illuminated. Two doors lay at either end of the room and in front of the one to the Resistance’s right stood Giovanni, Courtney and Silver with two high-level Rocket operatives on either side.

“Well come in,” Giovanni beckoned to Leaf, Okaido and Oak who strolled to the centre of the room and re-released all their Pokemon. “Well come in!” Giovanni shouted this time and for a moment Leaf was confused as to why he had repeated himself. Then hordes of Rocket operatives swarmed the room from the door the trio had just used and the door on the far side of the room. Leaf counted at least thirty or more seemingly high-level Rocket members now in the room with the Resistance, Giovanni, Courtney and Silver.

The criminal operatives released a legion of Pokemon from Muk and Weezing to Golbat and Fearow to Raticate and more, all of which circled the Resistance from where Leaf and her allies stood helpless in the centre of the marked Pokeball. She tried to count the Pokemon which surrounded them but there were too many, well over one hundred. The Resistance had just seventeen fighters to combat the horde and that was if Okaido’s precarious loyalty remained intact.

“So this is where the Resistance meets their end,” Giovanni said and ascended the podium, his wife Courtney alongside him. Silver had clearly circled the room because he now stood on the other podium and looked intimidating with the mechanical mask still firmly affixed to his face.

“A trap?” Samuel Oak asked Giovanni. The Resistance trio had been sucked into the room because of the false retreat and now stood surrounded on all sides.

“A contingency, my old friend,” Giovanni replied with a flicker of a smile. “I was unsure of my son’s loyalty so had both a plan A and a plan B.”

“Hello brother,” Silver said welcomingly towards Okaido.

“Silence,” Giovanni said sharply and glared at Silver for a split second before returning his calm gaze towards Okaido. “So you’re not joining me after all? Maybe if I crush your little Leaf then you may reconsider? Or maybe your grandfather?”

“Shut up!” Okaido shouted. “Just stop. I will never join you.”

“Never say never,” Giovanni said coolly.

“Never!” Okaido snapped.

“Everyone has a breaking point,” Giovanni said coldly then shocked Leaf with his next words. “Even Erik.”

“Where is he?” Leaf demanded.

“Don’t you interrupt,” Courtney chimed. “I’m to get my revenge on you Leafy girl for defeating me in the tournament.”

“Stand down,” Oak pleaded to Giovanni. “No more violence, no more war. Let’s discuss this as old friends.”

“Are you begging?” Giovanni said with pride.

“No,” Oak said. “This is too much, Giovanni. Too many have fallen now. Let us come to an agreement that suits both. No more Team Rocket and no more corruption. Let us work together to create a better world.”

Giovanni laughed at that. “Old man,” he said. “You are and were the only man I have ever respected enough to fear. But you’re out of practice and surrounded. Even you cannot destroy me now.” Courtney giggled hysterically at her husband’s words.

“No,” Samuel Oak conceded. “Even I cannot surmount these odds.”

“But I can,” Okaido cut in. “I will even if it means the end of me. I will take you down, father.”

“Blue-” Oak began.

“My name is Okaido Razzo,” he said passionately with eyes clouded by tears. “And my family created the mess our world now finds itself in. My friends have fallen and been broken and whatever else because of my family. It’s my responsibility to do what is right, and what is right is to bring down my father’s legacy.”

“You are my legacy,” Giovanni said. “Project Union is my legacy. I am just a pawn in my own game and so is Team Rocket,” he said to Leaf’s puzzlement, especially as the room was filled with Team Rocket operatives but they just looked to be in a brainwashed bliss.

“Enough!” Oak roared, the authority of his shout sending shockwaves through everyone in the room. “Enough of this manipulation. If you aren’t willing to solve this peacefully then myself, my grandson and Leaf have but one option left. War.” Leaf tensed at his words and met eyes with each and every one of her Pokemon. She would lose a few, possibly all of them if they were to fight but the war would end here and now.

“We have no chance,” Leaf whispered to Okaido.

“We always have a chance,” he said and grinned in reply. She looked around the room and saw the hopelessness of their situation. She wanted to withdraw her Pokemon and run but her friends would never forgive her. She would never forgive herself. She had fought her way out of tough fights before, even won them, but this was a different proposition altogether. There was no way they could win this fight and she knew that deep down Okaido knew this too.

“You don’t have much of a chance,” Giovanni said to Oak. “This is my final offer. Surrender to me. I’ll even let you go free Samuel, but Leaf must stay as my prisoner. I don’t trust her to lay down arms. She will be well treated but kept under close guard and her Pokemon taken from her. My son will also join Team Rocket as my heir. Those are my terms.”

“Okaido,” Samuel Oak said to his grandson. “I leave the choice in your hands. I trust you entirely and before you make your decision then please know this. Whatever decision you make, it would be impossible for me to be more proud of you.”

“And me,” Leaf added. “You never had to help Erik, Wally and I, but no matter what you’ve always been there for us. Whatever decision you make, my friend, we’ll always be in this together. Thank you for everything.”

Okaido looked from his grandfather, to Leaf, to Giovanni and then down to the floor as tears rolled down his face. “I’ll never let you down,” he said softly, so weakly that only Leaf and Samuel Oak could hear him. “And I’ll never stop fighting.” He lifted his head and locked eyes with his father, Giovanni. “We,” he said louder to correct himself. “We will never stop fighting.”

And so the battle to decide the war began.

Giovanni, Courtney and Silver held back from using their own Pokemon at first and allowed their grunts to engage with the resistance. Leaf noted that Giovanni was instructing his grunts to wound rather than defeat Okaido’s Pokemon, but Oak and Leaf’s own warriors were fair game.

A Golbat moved first, swooping down to attack the Resistance Pokemon and was instantly batted down by one of Dino’s vines then incinerated by a flamethrower from Heiko. Another Golbat followed, then another, then chaos. A Crobat, which was the evolved form of Golbat and more agile and vicious with four wings instead of two, set upon Club alongside a swarm of Golbat which it led. The Marowak swatted aside the winged creatures against feral bites and wing attacks but struggled under the sheer numbers of opponents. Stomp had moved to assist but the Nidoking had been caught up alongside Belly as herds of Raticate leapt at the duo, snapping their jaws. Muk remained at the back and launched toxic sludge towards Leaf’s Pokemon, mainly Dino and Loch who had hung back with the former whipping out vines at any foes that approached his trainer and the latter spraying beams of ice and water towards the Golbat who had surrounded Club.

Leaf turned to watch Heiko dart between a group of Arboks who had clung together and swiped their poisonous fangs towards the Flareon. Wally’s former Pokemon then spun back and launched spits of fire towards the snakes before having to dodge venomous bile and smog thrown at him by more Arboks and Weezing.

Club had managed to fight her way out of his bat-barricade with the assistance of Stomp who now fought off yet more Raticate and some Golbats whilst the Marowak focused on their leader, Crobat. Leaf watched him spin his bone club and strike at the speedy Rocket Pokemon who simply swerved out of the way and lashed out with a wing so tough it seemed to be made of steel. The steel wing crashed into Club and sent her sprawling across the floor where the Crobat honed in on his victim like a homing missle, only to be diverted off course when Dino whipped him with a vine. The bat sneered towards Leaf’s Venusaur before being caught in midair by Stomp who slammed the Crobat down to the ground and stamped on it, crushing the Rocket Pokemon underneath his considerable weight.

The Nidoking had saved the day. But in doing so had taken his eye from a gathering of Weezing who now floated towards him. Stomp looked around and gasped in horror before the three poison-types exploded, sacrificing their own lives to defeat the Nidoking.
Leaf felt the agony of losing a Pokemon tear through her but before she had time to grieve she noticed Heiko and Club once again being surrounded as they flanked Belly and threatened to steal the life of another one of her friends in quick succession. The Snorlax eagerly fought off Golbat after Golbat and Raticate after Raticate who all pounced or hovered near his hefty frame, using fists and headbutts to knock back and defeat his foes.

“Enough!” Giovanni roared to render the room to silence. Leaf had wondered why the Team Rocket boss had called for a temporary respite in the battle then looked behind her to find her answer. Whilst her Pokemon had been resilient and held off the grunt’s warriors but had been steadily losing ground, Okaido’s team had been decimated.

His Charizard lay weakly on the ground before him and his Pidgeot had been swiped from the air by a Crobat and now lay almost unmoving at Okaido’s feet. His Rhyhorn and Exeggutor had been scorched by a pair of Ninetales to the point where they lay unconscious and his Gyarados and Kadabra had been wrestled down by a Nidoking and Nidoqueen who now held their poisonous points threateningly towards their fallen opponents.

“I never thought Okaido would be our weak link,” Leaf thought to herself. “I’m our weak link? Unless…” she realised and looked to Okaido’s downed fighters. They were surrounded by Courtney’s and Giovanni’s Pokemon. She looked to Samuel Oak whose Pokemon had cut down huge swathes of Rocket grunt’s warriors, almost double the amount that Leaf’s Pokemon had managed then looked back to Okaido. Courtney and Giovanni had used the war as a distraction to render his Pokemon helpless.

And now Leaf saw why.

Silver moved through the grunts and over to Okaido. He was flanked by his Pokemon, a Gengar and Kadabra on one side and a Crobat and Magneton on the other.

“Come on,” he said to his half-brother. “Let’s get you out the way.”

“I’m not moving,” Okaido said stubbornly.

“We defeated your Pokemon,” Giovanni said. “So that you won’t be present in the centre when Samuel and Leaf are annihilated alongside their Pokemon.”

“And I’m staying right here,” Okaido replied. “You won’t kill them with me here.”

“Don’t make this any more difficult than it has to be, brother,” Silver said to Blue. The grunt’s Pokemon surrounded the Resistance with Leaf’s fighters hanging close to her and Oak’s close to him. Giovanni’s Pokemon had joined the ranks of the Rocket grunts’ on Oak’s side and Courtney’s now readied to face Leaf alongside the horde of grunt Pokemon. Leaf knew she had no chance, even with Samuel Oak’s aid.

“I will never abandon my gramps and my friend,” Okaido said stoutly.

“Do it,” Giovanni commanded Silver who in turn nodded towards his Magneton. The electric type sent out small shockwaves towards Okaido which were weak in strength but still enough to temporarily paralyse him. Okaido collapsed to the floor and was unable to move where he was then picked up by Silver with the help of both his Crobat and Kadabra. They carried off to where the two brothers travelled to the far side of the room. Okaido lay prone on the floor behind Silver’s podium and was surrounded by his half brother’s four Pokemon who were ready to pen him in and, if necessary, paralyse him again once he regained full consciousness. Leaf saw the door open from behind Giovanni then close. The Team Rocket boss and Courtney were too engrossed in Silver and Okaido to notice but Leaf presumed that more Rocket grunts had arrived to reinforce the main army.

“Ready?” Professor Oak said quietly to Leaf as the two stood back to back in the centre of the room, their five Pokemon each guarding their fronts.

“We’re going to lose aren’t we?” she asked nervously, seeing an uncountable number of Rocket Pokemon line up in front of her. She expected Samuel Oak to raise her spirits but he did no such thing.

“Probably,” he replied. “Let’s go down fighting. Let’s bring as many of the swine with us as we go. Then its up to my grandson to bring down his father.”

Leaf looked to her team one at a time and all her friends she had made looked back to her in turn and either smiled or nodded their head towards her. They were ready. “I’m sorry,” she whispered to them all. “But thank you. All of you. I’ve never known more loyal Pokemon.”

Club and Heiko charged first. They had grown tired of the standoff as a desire for vengeance burned through them. They’d go down knowing they did all they could to avenge their fallen mother and trainer respectively. Belly stumbled after them whilst Dino and Loch stayed back to protect Leaf.

She heard the cries and roars of Oak’s Pokemon behind her engaging in battle with Giovanni’s own. She saw her own friends fight valiantly and defiantly. She felt tears filling her eyes and smelt the stench of her own fears pouring down her in the form of sweat. Then she tasted the bittersweet taste of a heroic defeat, a final stand she could be proud of.

Dino roared and charged into the fray himself, knocking over two Raticate with his bulk then stamping and crushing Courtney’s Crobat beneath his feet after first using his vines to haul the bat from the air. Loch froze Courtney’s Muk within a tomb of ice where Heiko then melted both the ice prison and the Muk within. The Lapras then proceeded to decimate one of the Ninetales with an unstoppable blast of water.

Leaf turned back to watch Oak’s Blastoise ram into Giovanni’s Rhydon and drown it in water sprayed from the twin cannons. Oak’s Gyarados fell in battle against the Team Rocket boss’s Nidoking and Nidoqueen who combined their efforts before Giovanni watched his Dugtrio fall in battle to Oak’s Exeggutor using psychic attacks. The Arcanine and Tauros used by Oak in battle defeated one each of Giovanni’s two Rhyhorn before in turn falling to a swarm of grunt-owned Pokemon.

She turned back to her own team who were being majorly pushed back by the sheer numbers they were being forced to face. Courtney’s team had been reduced to just one Ninetales and her Nidoqueen but both were proving formidable foes to Leaf’s own Pokemon along with dozens of grunt-owned creatures.

Dino had been forced back all the way to his trainer and whipped at approaching Rocket grunt Pokemon with vines whilst Loch washed them away with water blasts but no matter how many they defeated, the endless horde just kept coming, and Leaf’s team were tiring rapidly. Belly had been forced over and was now on his back with Heiko and Club to either side of him trying to hold their opponents off so the Snorlax wouldn’t be defeated. But they were only delaying the inevitable. Courtney’s Ninetales hopped atop Belly and slowly skulked across his frame ready to breathe lethal flames into his face and her Nidoqueen had grabbed Club’s bone club and tossed it aside before pushing her to the ground and holding her foot to her throat to choke the life out of her. Then came the soul-tearing pain that came with losing a Pokemon. But this time it was different, this time the pain came not from the soul, but the heart.

“Wally!” she cried as Heiko fell to a swarm of Rocket Pokemon. The Flareon had been the last remnant of her old friend left within this world and had been defeated by the group he had sworn his vengeance upon. She collapsed to the floor, unable to take the strain. Then another cry joined hers. But this cry wasn’t one of pain, but one of pure rage.

“Wally!” a male voice called out from behind Giovanni.

“Father!” Silver bellowed from his podium at the other side of the arena. “You treated me as if I was nothing. A meaningless and useless failure. Well now it’s my turn to show you what I’m capable of.” Silver’s Pokemon released Okaido from his imprisonment and turned on their former Rocket comrades, cutting into the grunt horde of Pokemon from the left flank using vicious attacks intended to carve through the army and reach the centre.

Leaf looked back towards her Pokemon and almost squealed in shock. Courtney’s Nidoqueen and Ninetales now had eyes of lilac. They were being possessed.

She looked behind her and saw that Giovanni’s Nidoqueen and Nidoking had met the same fate then saw to the right side of the room the same figure she had seen possessing Pokemon in Lavender Town. But this time the figure was in light and the person using possession to control Courtney and Giovanni’s Pokemon was as clear to her as day. It was Erik.

The possessed Pokemon joined Leaf, Oak and Silver in their battle against Rocket and it was to clear to Leaf that even Giovanni hadn’t expected this betrayal. For the first time ever he looked flustered and unsure of what to do next. It was his wife that came up with the solution. Courtney pulled out four black stones from her pocket, Megastones. She leapt from the podium and sprinted towards the possessed Pokemon where one by one, she forcefully evolved them which broke the possession and began the process of mega-evolution.

All four were shrouded by a blackness which unveiled the four mega-evolutions when it dissipated. The Ninetales had grown in size and its tails had turned black in colour, as well as the hair atop its head. The two mega-Nidoqueen had also now grown in size and their bodies were now a much darker shade of blue. The cream on their bellies had turned into a metal shield upon their chests and stomachs and their horns had grown to three times the size and sharpness. Leaf recoiled at the dark red of their eyes. Finally, the Nidoking had also grown with a new metal shield upon his chest and stomach and his skin a darker shade of purple with a black tail. The spikes on his back had turned to steel and his eyes red but most threateningly his entire body was lined with purple plates of armour.

The four mega-evolutions turned back towards the Resistance and Silver but Erik had a plan for this too. He launched four Masterballs towards the creatures but these capsules were different to a standard Masterball, almost an upgraded version. Instead of having a purple top it was pure black and the two buttons on either side were now miniature Megastones.

“Our Megaballs!” Courtney squealed as if Erik had stolen the devices.

“What do they do?” Leaf asked her, they were now only a few paces away from each other as the so-called Megaballs captured and contained the four mega-evolutions.

“Our latest invention,” Courtney said, squirming nervously. “Only usable by our Project Union, Erik. The Megastones on the sides act as identification sensors so only he can use them. A Megaball will capture a Mega and keep it in that state permanently, but under control of Erik.” So Erik would be able to capture and control Megas, Leaf realised.

“Why would Giovanni hand all this power to Erik, I don’t understand?” Leaf replied. And then she did. Giovanni was laughing atop his podium as his empire crumbled around him. Erik released his four Megas onto the field of battle where they wreaked havoc upon the Rocket forces, so much so that the grunts fled in terror. Leaf and Oak recalled their Pokemon and were joined by Silver and Okaido in watching the massacre in astonishment.

“Project Union is a success!” Giovanni declared as the Megas beat down Courtney and advanced on him.

“Why?!” Oak demanded of his old friend.

“Another contingency,” Giovanni shouted back. “Team Rocket was unsustainable under my leadership. I had too many enemies and too few friends. I lacked the raw power to lead the region for much longer, especially with the Resistance so close to bringing me down.”

“What have you done to him?” Oak asked of Erik, who had commanded his Megas to stop their advance and allow Giovanni to explain why he had done the things he had done. Leaf supposed this was for his own benefit rather than for Oak’s.

“He is my Project Union. I took the most powerful trainer in the land, even more powerful than the two of us. Then I combined him with the powers of Pokemon and Megastones allowing him the power of possession, along with the control of Megaevolutions with our newest invention, the Megaball. As well as some other surprises you’ll surely find out.”

“But why?!” Oak demanded.

“At first I wanted power and control after losing Aria, my former wife. But even after I obtained all the power I could ever wish for it never replaced her. The only thing that could fill the hole in my heart was Okaido and Daisy, but you took them from me too. Erik here understood the same things I do. That the only way to stop pain and loss is to obtain so much power that you become like a god! I couldn’t achieve that for myself, my body is too old now that the experiments would’ve devastated me. But Erik was young and strong. And after the death of Wally, he was also willing. He now feels no pain or loss. He has ascended above that!”

“You still haven’t answered me,” Oak bellowed. “What’s in this for you?”

“As I said. Rocket would have soon fallen and me with it. Therefore I would’ve left no legacy for Okaido and Daisy. But now they can pick up where I left off, with Erik by their side they can rule the world!”

“He’s lost it,” Silver said in realisation.

“I still refuse,” Okaido said, his voice like a growl.

“I know. This is why I initially said that Erik was my backup. If you refuse me then Erik will be my legacy!”

“It should’ve been me!” Silver screamed.

“You’re too weak to succeed me,” Giovanni said scornfully.

Silver looked ashamed and Erik decided he had heard enough. He commanded his four Megas to end their own lives, for what reason Leaf failed to understand, but they willingingly obeyed their master. Each Mega closed their eyes and seemingly exploded in a cloud of darkness. The poisonous gas wrapped around Giovanni and Courtney and suffocated the life from them much like it did to Ethan atop Cinnabar Island’s volcano. The two leaders of Rocket collapsed, choking.

“That’s for Wally,” Erik said, his voice dark and gritty as the life left Giovanni and Courtney. Silver, Okaido, Oak and Leaf were left too stunned for words.

Two figures came to Erik’s side to join him, Leaf recognising them from Silph Company Tower as Proton and Ariana.

“The most powerful trainer is now the ultimate weapon,” Ariana declared. “And will led Team Rocket to new heights.”

“You’re joining Team Rocket?” Leaf demanded of Erik, her pulse racing.

“I am Team Rocket,” Erik said, his voice croaky and dark. He nodded to Silver who nodded back.

“That was our deal,” Silver said.

“What?” Leaf gasped.

“That we take down my father and Courtney together,” Silver replied, his mechanical voice failing to hide the sad strain on his words. “And that he can lead Team Rocket as long as I am free to leave.”

“That’s it?” Leaf snapped.

“No,” Silver replied. “Erik is to also withdraw Team Rocket from Kanto permanently. As long as the Resistance leaves him and Team Rocket alone then they will never emerge in Kanto again.”

“Why would you care?” Okaido asked his half-brother.

“Because I want peace. I want to live my own life without Giovanni and without Team Rocket.”

“And why would you?!” Leaf shouted to Erik. “How could you?!”

“Giovanni explained it perfectly,” Erik replied. “The loss of Wally, my father, all my beloved Pokemon. They broke me and caused me to feel so much pain. Now with all this power I will never feel pain again!”

“But Team Rocket?” she replied, shocked. “Why lead them.”

“Because I have the power of a god!” he said proudly. Leaf could tell that somehow Giovanni had broken his spirit and almost reinvented her former friend’s beliefs. “And a god should rule this world. As part of my deal I shall leave Kanto untouched, as long as you lot leave me be. But the rest of this world shall fall to me.”

“What happened to you?!” Leaf said as both anger and sorrow swelled within her. “You were so good. I aspired to be like you. Wally aspired to be like you!”

“And he’s dead. I shall remove sadness and loss from this world. That is my goal as god of it.”

“You’re out of your mind!” Leaf snapped and felt the tears roll down her face.

“Wouldn’t you like to live in a world where Pokemon aren’t killed in battle?” Erik asked. “Where Pokemon are treated as friends instead of warriors. Where battles are fought not to the death but until a clear victor is found. Where you are free to capture as many Pokemon from a route or cave as you like? Where you don’t need to be a trainer to capture and own Pokemon? Where you can buy and use as many items to heal your Pokemon as you like and use a Pokemon Centre as many times as you wish?” Erik said and Leaf sighed, unable to believe what she was hearing. “That is a world I shall create. A world without death and sadness. A world ruled by me where we shall set our own rules.”

“And how would you achieve that?” Samuel Oak asked. “By tearing down our current world? By killing everyone and starting again?” he said coldly.

“If that’s what is necessary, although that’s not my first option” Erik replied.

“Wouldn’t that cause loss and sadness?” Oak said.

“It would be a means to achieve a world of serenity,” Erik said sternly.

“You say Wally’s death was what broke you,” Leaf began. “But you were in Lavender Town before his death, using possession to control Pokemon. You caused the death of Club’s mother,” she spoke of her Marowak who had collapsed through exhaustion and didn’t hear her words.

“They forced these powers on me,” Erik said. “I was experimenting with them in Lavender, but I wasn’t quite ready yet. Back then I planned to break free and rejoin you. But Wally’s death convinced me that this was the only way.”

“It isn’t!” Leaf snapped.

“Leaf,” Okaido said. “He’s gone. The Erik we knew and loved. He’s gone now.”

“Correct,” Erik replied. “This is the last time we shall ever meet, Leaf and Blue. Unless you pursue me then Kanto shall be destroyed.”

“No!” Leaf snapped as Erik turned to leave with Arianna and Proton.

“Wait!” Okaido shouted, clearly not ready to accept his own words just yet.

“Let him go,” Silver said and moved to stop both Leaf and Okaido who had attempted to follow Erik out of the room. “As my brother said. The Erik you knew has gone.”

“I refuse to believe it!” Leaf snapped.

“He’s right,” Samuel Oak spoke from behind the trio. “Erik has had his mind warped by Giovanni.” Oak looked to the lifeless body of his old friend and his wife, Courtney and said a final goodbye. “He used to be a much better man,” Oak said. “But loss can do terrible things to a person. Especially when that person is your world.”

“I should’ve joined Team Rocket,” Okaido said to Leaf’s dismay. “All this would’ve been avoided. I could’ve turned them into a force for good.”

“This isn’t your fault,” Leaf said softly. “Not in the slightest.”

“But it is!” Okaido blurted and Oak put an arm around his grandson and spoke too quietly for Leaf to hear.

“What will you do?” Leaf asked of Silver, still unsettled by the sight of the mask on his face.

“I don’t know,” he said. Leaf had noticed that he was a relatively quiet person who enjoyed his own company rather than to be with others. She almost felt sorry for him, but the sight of the monstrosity of metal upon his face made her struggle to see the human being she knew was underneath. Maybe that was the mask’s intention after all.

“You’re still in the tournament aren’t you?” Okaido asked as he returned from his pep talk by his grandfather.

“The tournament!” Leaf blurted. “I had forgotten all about that!”

“Its meaningless now,” Silver said.

“It’s not,” Samuel Oak corrected him. “Whoever is Champion will be able to decide the fate of Kanto.” He looked to his grandson and smiled, clearly backing Okaido for the victory.

“There’s only us three and Lance left in it,” Leaf said and thought of the former Champion Lance, the world’s most famous dragon tamer. He was said to be the most powerful trainer in the region after Professor Oak and Giovanni and one of the greatest trainers in the world.

“The draw is fixed,” Silver revealed to none of their surprise. “I’m to face my brother.”

“In a fair fight?” Okaido asked.

“A fair fight between Giovanni’s sons,” Silver replied.

“So I’m to face Lance,” Leaf said and Silver nodded confirmation.

“If I lose,” Silver continued. “I leave Kanto for good.”

“You don’t have to, you helped us,” Leaf said.

“Humiliation and shame isn’t something I’m willing to face anymore of,” Silver responded. “But I promise you that if I win then I will try to achieve the same goals as you are.”

“You will?!” Leaf said excitedly.

“Archer is my father’s pet puppy. Now he’s off his leash there’s no telling what stupid things he’ll concoct. I want him gone so my father’s and Team Rocket’s grip on the region  is completely destroyed,” Silver said and made no effort to hide the anger in his voice.

“And Erik?” Leaf asked. “Isn’t he your father’s true legacy?”

Silver grunted at that but said nothing to it. “Time for me to take my leave,” he said. “Lance will be waiting for you at Indigo Plateau, on the top level.”

Before Leaf or Okaido could reply, Silver span on his heel and skulked out of the room. Leaf wanted to say something but couldn’t find the words.

“So the Servants,” Okaido asked. “What happened with that lot?”

“Lyra!” Leaf blurted as she once again remembered another issue. “They’re all…gone,” she said. “Their leader, Lyra, killed them…”

“Why?” Okaido asked, puzzled.

“Because,” Samuel Oak intervened. “She is a malicious and single minded fool who only has a concern for one thing, power. She cares not for anyone else.”

“She’s my mother,” Leaf revealed.

“Oh,” Oak replied.

“What?” Okaido added.

“I didn’t know the leader of the Servants was Lyra until very recently. But she is my mother and she plans to release Mewtwo once more.”

“Then we must stop her,” Oak replied. “Instantly.”

“Out of her ‘love’ for me,” Leaf said, stressing the word ‘love’ with a bitter tone. “She has promised me less than two days to try to escape the region.”

“Then I shall go to stop the menace,” Oak decided.

“No,” Leaf said forcefully. “She’s my mother. It’s my duty to stop her.”

“You’re sure?” Oak asked, surprising Leaf with his willingness to submit to her wishes. He clearly trusted her.

“I am,” she said. “I shall try my best to become Champion. But before I unite the region and take down Archer I will move to stop my mother from destroying it.”

“You got no chance,” Okaido said and winked. “I’ll do the Champion bit, you do the taking down Lyra bit,” he said almost playfully.

“May the best trainer win,” Leaf said in response.

Team Rocket had been all but destroyed that day with their final base of operations cleared out and their two leaders, Giovanni and Courtney, removed from the equation. Their third in command, Silver, had betrayed and disowned them which left only the Governor of Kanto, Archer, left.

But Leaf had other worries. She still needed to become Champion to take down Archer and unite the region and that was only the start. Lance stood in her way then either Okaido or Silver. But most troubling of all was that she had been given until the next night by Lyra to leave the region and it was already the end of the day before. Leaf was slowly but surely running out of time to stop her mother from unleashing the most powerful Pokemon the world has ever known and destroying Kanto for good.