Site hosted by Angelfire.com: Build your free website today!

My Best Friends
by  EmperMaxis@aol.com

Chapter One
  Dawn. As the sun slowly peeks over the horizon, and lazily rises into the
  sky, the first light of the new day shine over a grassy hillside on the
  little-traveled coastal road of Route 15. On either side of the path there
  are about one hundred feet of tall grass and then the tall trees that form
  the outskirts of the Pokemon Conservation. In the nearby forest, wild pokemon
  begin to stir. Awakened by the warmth of the sun, a mother Pidgeotto climbs
  out of its nest and swoops low over the forest, scanning for food for her
  young. A group of young Mankey climb out of their home in the hollow trunk of
  a tree and begin playfully fighting each other in the treetops. A colony of
  Diglett bust to the surface of the forest floor, happily gathering moisture
  from the dewy grass about them. A single Doduo persistently pecks the trunk
  of a tree, alternating heads each strike, searching for juicy Caterpies.
  Suddenly, a single figure appears over the horizon. It is a boy, no older
  than fourteen! What is he doing on so desolate a road? At his side are three
  pokeballs. Just three? A boy his age certainly should have at least six! This
  one, however, doesn't seem to mind as he walks along, fervently studying the
  immense map he carries in his outstretched hands. By some miracle he narrowly
  avoids stepping on a poisonous Weedle in his distraction. He is tall,
  muscular and thin, with spikey red hair and tanned skin. He wears a gray
  T-shirt and faded jeans with sneakers. Wait... there's something following
  him. Why, it's a little brown Eevee! It skips along merrily, its ears perked
  and attuned to all sounds around it. It happily around the boys legs
  squealing with delight at his mere presence. (Oh! This is his Eevee!) The boy
  glances down at him, smiles, and sets the map down. Then he kneels and
  scratches the little Eevee behind its soft, cuddly ears, causing its tail to
  wag up and down.
  "Hey, little guy!" He says with a smile. "Do you want a ride? Hop on."
  With that, he scoops Eevee up with one arm and sets him on his shoulder.
  Eevee squeaks with glee and licks the boy's ear.
  "Aw, Hey, cut it out!" He laughs. "You're going to make me go soft!"
  He picks up the map, and sets off down the trail further, his pokemon on
  his shoulder.
  Just then, another pair of travelers comes over the hill. But this one
  is... well, odd. First comes a strikingly gorgeous young woman, about the
  same age as the boy before her. She has long, strawberry-blond hair stylishly
  combed over her left shoulder. Her eyes are soft and blue, like twin
  sapphires. She wears a white blouse with jean short and sandals. At her waist
  is a minipack containing four pokeballs. But the truly bazarre thing is her
  companion... A round, pink Chansey! The nurse pokemon walks with the girl,
  right by her side, almost as if it were her nanny. In its pouch is a big
  white egg, as is normal with most Chansey pokemon, but this one also has
  makeup, hair spray, combs of all shapes and sizes, and even fashion
  magazines. Ah, of course, it MUST be the girl's nanny to be carrying all of
  that. This peculiar couple continues down the path, following the boy.
  "Rex!" The girl calls to the boy ahead of her. "My feet are killing me!
  Can we stop and take a rest?"
  "No time for that now, Lizzy." Rex responds. "Fuschia City's right around
  the bend. If we hurry, we can make it before nightfall!"
  "What? You're serious?" Lizzy responds, shocked. Then she bursts into
  shouts of joy. "All RIGHT! I can finally take a long, hot shower!"
  "Tell me about it." Says Rex. "It feels like months since we left
  Lavender Town."
  "I know." Lizzy groans. "I'll be happy to get back to civilization.
  Hey... Where's Jeff?"
  "Right back here!" Cries another boy carrying hiking gear as he jogs out
  of breath over the hill. "Whew! That climb took a lot out of me!"
  This weary traveler is unlike the others. First, he is shorter and
  thinner than the first, not as developed physically, and a bit paler. Second,
  he is obviously younger than the other two, perhaps thirteen. However, he is
  handsome in his own right, with folds curly brown hair combed over his
  forhead, and deep hasil eyes.
  As the boy hurries to catch up with his friends, he huffs and pants from
  the weight of the enormous pack strapped to his shoulders. This immense
  backpack is larger than he is! Inside are six pokeballs, among supplies of
  all sorts! He has three sleeping bags, high-intensity flashlights, roadside
  flares, a first aid kit, vitamins, medicine, bags of chips, food wrapped in
  aluminum or inside of tupperware, bottled water, and even a miniature radio
  transceiver! Tied to the top of the pack is a large... butterfly net? And
  what's that in his pocket?... Why, it's a field guide of rare bug pokemon.
  Hanging from a band around his neck is a pair of long-range binoculars, the
  kind pros use to spot rare and exotic species of pokemon from afar. He wears
  light blue shorts, sandals with white socks, and a shortsleeve red shirt. On
  his hands are black gloves, used for examining dangerous plants like poison
  ivy.
  "Hey, Jeff!" Called Rex. "Pick up the pace! We're almost to Fuschia City!"
  "Really? Great!" Exclaimed Jeff. "I can't wait to call my house and check
  on my pokemon!"
  The other two groaned, reluctantly admitting that Jeff had more pokemon
  than the two of them, combined! Jeff Fuji was really into bug pokemon. In
  fact, that was the only type of pokemon he collected. He lived in Lavender
  Town with his uncle, Dr. Fuji, who took care of the pokemon Jeff didn't take
  around with him. Those were Caterpie, Weedle, Paras, Venonat, Metapod, and
  Kakuna. In his pack, Jeff currently carried Venomoth, Scyther, Pinsir,
  Butterfree, Beedrill, and Parasect. It was Jeff's lifelong dream to discover
  a new specie of bug pokemon. So, he always carried binoculars around and a
  few extra pokeballs, just in case he ever spotted one. Rex and Lizzie met
  Jeff in the Viridian Forest. At the time, Jeff hadn't captured his Butterfree
  yet. The twosome saw him catch it. Amazed at the blinding skill with which he
  controlled his Pinsir (that was the pokemon he used to catch Butterfree with)
  they asked him to join them on their journey. Then he had refused, saying he
  needed time to be with his pokemon and train them for his upcoming fight with
  Gym Leader Lt. Surge in Vermillion City. They parted ways, never expecting to
  meet again. But months later, they were reunited at the gym in Saffron City.
  After witnessing Rex's and Lizzie's skill as pokemon trainers as they fought
  with Sabrina, Jeff gladly joined the group on its way to Fuschia City. They
  had been best friends ever since.

  The traveling group turned the bend, and expectantly looked ahead for
  Fuschia City. Instead, they saw only a long and winding trail up the side of
  a sea cliff towards a ridge above. Lizzie stepped forward and gawked at the
  huge trek.
  "Wh-What's going on?" Lizzie stammered. "I thought you said it was just
  around the bend, Rex?"
  "Oh, my mistake..." Rex turned red.'"Umm... Err...You see..."
  "Rex," Lizzie warned. "Don't even think of telling me what I think you're
  about to tell me!"
  "I'm sorry, guys," Rex said sheepishly. "But it looks like Fuschia's on
  top of that ridge up there."
  "OooOoOooohhhhh...." Lizzie groaned. "You mean... we have to hike all the
  way up there?"
  "'Fraid so." Said Rex.
  "Aw, lighten up, guys!" Jeff exclaimed cheerfully. "It's only about two
  or three hundred feet up!"
  "Imagine my relief." Lizzie muttered sarcastically. Then, with renewed
  determination, "Okay, guys, if we have to climb, we have to climb. I'll lead
  the way this time, thank you. C'mon, Chansey!" With that, she stomped up the
  hill, her Chansey-nurse waddling behind her. The boys were left in her dust.
  "Man, she is one take-charge kind of gal!" Exclaimed Jeff. "Was she
  always this way, Rex?"
  "Ever since we met." Rex admitted.
  "Say... You never did tell me exactly how you two met." Jeff realized.
  "Um, well," Rex blushed. "It's kind of an embarassing story..."
  "I'm all ears." Jeff said bluntly. Rex sighed. Finally, he broke down and
  agreed to explain it all... at the pokemon center that night. "Great!" Jeff
  exclaimed. "I look forward to it."
  Wish I did. Rex thought.

  Up ahead on the trail, Lizzie slowed her relentless climb up the steep
  slope to catch her breath. She panted hard, so hard her stomach hurt. Chansey
  waddled up behind her.
  "Oooh, that Rex!" Lizzie shouted to no one in particular. "Who does he
  think he is? Can't he even read a simple road map? Arrgh!"
  "Chan-sey." Chansey said, putting a comforting hand on Lizzie's shoulder.
  Gradually, she calmed down.
  "Thanks, Chansey," Said Lizzie. "But that boy just drives me crazy
  sometimes! I mean, ever since we first met, I've had this strange feeling
  like he was trying to impress me or something."
  "Chan?" Chansey cocked its head sideways, questioning her.
  "I don't know, I mean, I guess I like him okay." Lizzie said,
  unconsiously braiding a strand of her hair. "It's just that, sometimes, he
  does little things that irritate me. I mean, like accidentally leading us
  into a nest of Beedrills, or taking a wrong turn and winding up in a tar
  pit," Lizzie burst out laughing in spite of herself. She wiped tears of mirth
  from her eyes. "Or.. Or walking straight off the edge of a cliff, and Jeff
  trying to grab his arm and him getting pulled down too, and me having to hold
  Jeff by the foot and pull both of them back up!" Lizzie collapsed to the
  ground, laughing and rolling around as fresh waves of joy assailed her. Then,
  noticing Chansey's confused stare, she stopped abruptly. She stood, brushed
  the dirt off her blouse, picked a twig from her hair, and shrugged. "Yeah, I
  guess he's okay."

  Finally, after what seemed like an endless hike, the trio reached the top
  of the seaside ridge. Behind them were one hundred and eighty-five miles of
  treacherous, twisting road that stretched to the distant Lavender Town. It
  had taken them two months to hike so far. Beside them the cliffs plunged to
  the azure sea. Somewhere, out there over the horizon, lay the infamous
  Seafoam Islands and beyond them, Cinabarr. And before them, sprawled out like
  an open map, lay the City of Fuschia. Rex, Lizzie, and Jeff sighed in relief
  as they gazed upon the city it had taken them so long to reach. Along the
  way, they had many adventures, and were tired from their experience. Finally
  - after long last - finally they were here.

Chapter Two

  "Welcome to the Pokemon Center. How may I help you?" Nurse Joy asks
  cheerfully.
  "Aunt Joy? Is that you?" Rex exclaims.
  "Rex!" Nurse Joy gasped with delight. "It's really you! Oh, you've grown
  so much I hardly recognized you."
  "Heh..." Rex mutters sheepishly. "It's good to see you too, Aunt Joy."
  "Oh, my little lamb! How are your pokemon?" Joy sings merrily.
  "Great!" Rex boasts. "Jolteon, Vaporeon, and Flareon are doing fine. And
  that little Eevee you gave me last Christmas-" Rex hoists his prize pokemon
  onto the desk. "-has grown up into a strong, fighting machine."

  Rex and his friends are in the lobby of the Fuschia City Pokemon Center.
  Lizzie sits on a plush sofa, relieved that she can finally sit down. Jeff
  stands at one of the many video phones, talking to his Uncle Fuji. Rex's
  Eevee eats pokemon food in a little bowl on the floor. Lizzie's Chansey
  happily socializes with the Chansey-nurses behind the counter. The stars in
  the night sky twinkle above them through the immense skylight shaped like a
  Pokeball. As the pink-haired receptionist bubbles over with glee, Rex's face
  gets redder and redder.
  "Oh, how is my little sister, your mother?" Joy gushes. "How about your
  father? Your dog? How old are you now? Fourteen? Fifteen? My goodness, but
  you're getting tall! Are you taking care of yourself? Your shirt needs to be
  ironed. Your jeans are dirty. When was the last time you had a haircut? Are
  you changing your underwear every single day?"
  "Aunt Joy" Rex shouts, mortified. "I'm fine! I'm fine! Don't worry, I can
  take care of myself!"
  "Barely." Lizzie whispers to Jeff.
  Nurse Joy looks up, and sees the other two travelers as if for the first
  time.
  "And who are these young people?" Joy asks Rex.
  "Well, this is-" He begins.
  "I'm Lizzie." Lizzie interrupts. "Rex and I met in Viridian City. Your
  nephew was kind enough to offer to escort me to Pewter City, and we've been
  together ever since."
  "I see." Joy nods. "And this young man?"
  "I'm Jeff." Jeff shakes her hand. "I ran into these two in Saffron, and
  they asked me if I'd like to join them on their journey."
  "Very good to meet you, Jeff." Joy smiles. "My little Pookie has very
  good taste in friends."
  "AUNT JOY!" Rex screams.
  "Calm down, Rex!" Joy laughs. "I'm just joking. I actually never call him
  that in public. Well, there was that time at your preschool graduation..."
  "AUNT JOY!"
  "Do you still have photos of Rex in preschool?" Lizzie asks.
  "Why, yes! Rolls and rolls of film, actually." Joy exclaims, removing
  stacks pictures from her purse.
  "AUNT JOY!"
  "Awww, how cute!" Lizzie giggles.
  "I've always liked that one, too!" Joy beams with pride. "Of course, the
  bear skin rug was a little shaggy..."
  "AUNT JOY!!!"
  "Can I keep it?" Lizzie asks.
  "Of course! I have duplicates!" Joy laughs.
  "AAAAAAAAARRRRRRRRRGGGGGGHHHHHHHHH!~!~!~!~!~!"

  Twenty minutes later, Nurse Joy returns, carrying a tray with all of
  their pokeballs on it.
  "Your pokemon are revitalized." She says cheerily. "Will you be needing
  any further assistance?"
  "Hey, thanks!" Rex calls. "I think that about does it. How are we doing
  on supplies, Jeff?"
  "Um, pretty good, actually." Jeff responds, checking inside his pack.
  "We're a little low on Antidote, but I think we'll be okay until we all
  challenge the local gym leader."
  "Okay?" a shrill voice questions. The trio looks up. Across the room from
  them, standing by a large fireplace, is a boy of about fourteen. He is as
  tall as Rex, but scrawny and wirey. His hair is bleached blond, parted down
  the middle. He sizes them up, one eyebrow raised quizzically. Then he laughs.
  "You guys must be pretty inexperienced if you don't take plenty of Antidote
  and Paralyze Heal to Fuschia Gym!"
  "Oh really?" Lizzie crosses her arms. "And just why is that?"
  "Ha! Only an amateur wouldn't know about Master Koga!" The blond-haired
  boy scoffs.
  "Who?" Rex asks.
  "Oh, please." The boy mutters. "Master Koga! The Fuschia City Gym leader!
  He's famous!" He crosses his arms over his chest. "Every pokemon trainer
  worth his salt knows that his specialty is poisonous pokemon." The obnoxious
  kid spits into a potted plant. "Anyone else is just a no-talent loser."
  "Excu-use me?" Lizzie exclaims in disbelief. Her eyes narrow. Her teeth
  clench. "I don't think I heard you right. Would you please repeat what you
  just said?" Jeff starts to say something, but Rex slaps his hand over his
  mouth in alarm.
  "Let her handle this one." Rex whispers.
  "I spoke plain English." The blond boy continues, casually leaning
  against the wall. "I said you'd have to be pretty dumb to challenge Master
  Koga without plenty of Antidote."
  "Oh!" Lizzie laughs, her face taking on a mischievous look. "So now I'm
  dumb? Is that it?" The boy shrugged.
  "You tell me." He says in her face.
  "Well, then, I guess there's just one way to settle this." She smiles
  sweetly.
  "How's that?"
  "A pokemon match." She gestures to the training room, where trainers
  compete in friendly, "just-for-fun" matches. "Just you, me, and one pokeball
  each."
  "Now just a-" Jeff starts. Rex again stifles him with a hand over his
  mouth.
  "Fair deal." The cocky kid responds. "Only in my version, the loser hands
  over his strongest pokemon to the winner."
  "Done." Lizzie grins slyly.
  "MMMMPPPPHHH!!!!!!" Jeff screams, muffled by Rex's hand.

  "Ready watch me win, babe?" The blond-haired kid calls across the stadium
  to Lizzie. She merely smiles in response.
  "Bring it on, chump." She mutters under her breath.
  "Match number 451: Lizzie vs. Michael." The referee's voice cuts into
  their ears through the PA system. "Each player will use one pokeball. There
  will be no time limit. Let the game begin!"
  "Pokeball, go!" Michael shouts, throwing a red and white orb into the
  center of the ring. A flash of light comes from within, taking the form of a
  pink lizard, nearly four feet tall, with a long, wet tongue.
  "Likitung." The mechanized voice of Lizzie's pokedex announces. "Its
  tongue can be extended like a chameleon's and leaves a tingling sensation
  when it licks." For a moment it hums quietly. Then it beeps, and says.
  "Experience scan indicates that this Likitung is at level fourty-three."
  "In that, this should be more than a match for it." Lizzie smiles,
  holding up her own pokeball. "Do your best, little guy. I'm counting on you!"
  Then she throws it into the ring. It lands three feet from Likitung, flashes,
  and releases its own little inhabitant.
  "Clefaaaiiiirrry!" The little pokemon sings. Flapping its little wings,
  it suspends itself about an inch above the ground.
  "Ha! Clefairy?!?!" Michael scoffs. "THIS will be a cinch!"
  His boasts are cut short when his own pokedex chimes, and announces its
  findings.
  "Clefairy." It speaks in a mechanical voice. "Its cute magical appeal
  brings it many admirers. The Clefairy is rare and found only in certain
  areas. Experience scan indicates that Clefairy is at level sixty-two."
  "LEVEL SIXTY-TWO?????" Screams Michael. "I DON"T believe it!"
  "Ha! Believe it, Mikey!" Lizzie laughs. "Get ready to lose! Clefairy,
  double slap!"
  Clefairy darts through the air and unleashes a volley of fist attacks on
  Lickitung. Likitung jumps back, surprised.
  "Hey! How'd you-" Michael gasps. "Okay! Likitung, use your wrap attack!"
  Likitung's lengthy tongue winds itself around and around Clefairy like a
  lassoe. Then it begans to squeeze.
  "Squash that thing like a bug, Likitung!" Michael calls.
  "Clefairy, Teleport!" Lizzie calmly orders. In a twinkling, Clefairy
  reappears at the far end of the stadium. Likitung's tongue is left tied in a
  knot!
  "Huh?" Michael says, stunned. "Clefairy can't teleport!"
  "It can with Metronome." Lizzie confidently responds. "Clefairy, random
  attack!"
  "Clefairy! Cle-faaaairrry!" Clefairy sings merrily. It stands up straight
  and begins waving its fingers back and forth.
  "What?" Michael sneers. "Is he going to annoy Likitung into submission?"
  "Not quite." Lizzie states.
  Over in the stands, Jeff and Rex recline, watching the match with great
  interest.
  "So, do you think Lizzie will win?" Jeff asks, slurping on a smoothie in
  a Pikachu cup.
  "Hard to say." Rex responds thoughtfully as he chomps down on his double
  cheeseburger. "Clefairy is at a higher level, but Likitung are generally
  stronger pokemon. And if Likitung catches Clefairy with its disabling stare,"
  He takes another big bite. "Then it's pretty much over."
  "Likitu-u-u-u-u-ng!" The pinkish lizard cries in alarm as it is bombarded
  by waves of electricity. Clefairy, on the far side of the court, continues to
  zap it with the skill "Thunder!"
  "Likitung!" Michael cries. "No!"
  "All right, Clefairy!" Lizzie cheers. "Good job, try another!"
  "Clefairy!" The impish pokemon responds, waving its fingers again. But
  before it can release another attack, a long, pink tongue whacks it on the
  side of the head. "Clefa-a-a-aiiiiiiryyy!" It wails.
  "Ha! Nice shot, Likitung!" Michael congratulates his pokemon. "Give it
  another whack!"
  Likitung's tongue whips out like a snake and smacks Clefairy off its
  feet.
  "Oh! Clefairy!" Lizzie cries. The poor powder puff twitches on the
  ground, unable to stand.
  "Now Likitung!" Michael cries. "Stomp attack!" Likitung slams its mighty
  foot against the ground. The force of the shockwaves knocks Clefairy spinning
  through the air.
  "Cle... Clef.. fairy...." Clefairy pants, exhausted. Beads of
  perspiration dot its face.
  "Likitung! Disable it!" Michael orders. Likitung nods, and squints its
  eyes. Suddenly, its retinas turn blue. A piercing beam of light shoots forth
  and envelopes Clefairy.
  "Clefairy! No!" Lizzie cries, sts opponent. eeing her pokemon writhe in
  pain. It was now completely immobile, disabled by the fierce stare of it's
  opponent.
  "Ha! Ha! Ha!" Michael gloats. "Its over! Give up, already. You're just
  embarassing yourself!"
  "No way!" Lizzie yells. "It's not over till its over! I don't quit until
  Clefairy gives up! And it's not going to give in! Look!"
  Michael glances at Clefairy, and gasps! Sure enough, although immobile,
  Clefairy was still on its feet, fists clenched, teeth gritted, a fierce look
  of determination in its eyes.
  "Clefairy, stare it down!" Lizzie calls. Clefairy narrows its eyes in
  response, and returns the vicious stare of its opponent.
  "What?" Michael exclaims. "It's still up? Likitung, increase power!"
  "Likitung?" The pokemon replies, confused. Then its piercing blue eyes
  turn an even deeper shade of blue.
  "That oughta do it!" Michael confidently states. Surprisingly enough,
  however, Clefairy doesn't even flinch. "WHAT?!?" Michael shouts. "No way it's
  still standing!" Then he glares at Likitung. "Likitung!" He shouts. "I want
  that pokemon completely disabled! Unconscious! Make it faint, NOW!" Still,
  Clefairy doesn't budge.
  "Liii-kii-tunnnng....." Likitung moans, growing nauseous. Suddenly, it
  looks Clefairy right in the eyes and sees its reflection. Before it can
  respond, its own disabling beam bounces back and strikes it.
  "Liiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiikkkiiii!"
  "NNNNOOOOO!!!!!!" Michael shouts as Likitung collapses. "I- I can't-
  believe it! I should have won! I can't lose!" He begins to sob hysterically,
  like a baby.
  "You're Likitung was strong," Lizzie softly states. "But all the love and
  care I put into training my Clefairy made it stronger. It wouldn't give up
  because it knew I wanted to win, because it's my friend and it knows I only
  ask it to do what I know it can." She frowns slightly. "I'm sorry to say, but
  you will always be the weaker trainer until you learn to love and respect
  your pokemon. Then they'll fight their hardest for you."
  Unfortunately, Michael has absorbed none of this. Instead, his anger
  falls upon his tired Likitung.
  "You stupid pokemon!" Michael shouts, running toward his fallen pokemon.
  "I'll teach you to lose to some girl!"
  "Michael, stop!" Lizzie calls in alarm. But its too late. Michael balls
  his hands into fists and leaps at the exhausted Likitung.
  "JOL-TE-ON!" Roars Rex's Jolteon as it blasts Michael with the incredible
  power of its Thunder Bolt.
  "EEEooooWWWW!" Michael shrieks as he is knocked into the far wall of the
  training room. He staggers to his feet, shaken. "Aw, he's not worth it!"
  Michael growls as he stalks from the room, smoke rising from his hair.

  Once he's gone, Lizzie rushes to Likitung. "You're all right, aren't you,
  Likitung?" She asks, worried. "Oh, I hope you're not hurt."
  "Li... ki... tung..." It pants.
  "How is he?" Rex asks, stepping down from the stands.
  "Pretty good." Lizzie reports, checking his pulse. "I studied to be a
  Pokemon Nurse, you know."
  "Yeah... I know." Rex says. "It's a good thing, too." Lizzie looks up
  into his eyes.
  "Th-Thanks, Rex." Lizzie stammers. "If it wasn't for Jolteon, I don't
  know what would have happened."
  "Uh, no problem!" Rex stutters, returning his yellow pokemon to its
  pokeball. Lizzie smiles. The two look deep into each other's eyes. "I-I was
  glad I could help."
  Jeff stares at the young couple in amazement. Then he sits down.
  "I don't get it, Eevee." Jeff says to the brown, fuzzy pokemon beside him
  in the stands. "I mean, they were arguing on the way here, then she made fun
  of his baby pictures, and now they're acting like the best of friends. It's
  like... opposites attract."
  "Eevee." Eevee hums.
  "Chansey!" Comes the startled voice of Lizzie's pokemon nanny. It bursts
  into the room, followed closely by Nurse Joy and several more Chansey.
  "What happened?" Nurse Joy asks, worried. "Is everyone all right? I just
  saw Michael leaving and his clothes were covered in singe marks!"
  "Chansey! Chansey! Chan-sey!" The round, pink pokemon chatters away,
  holding Lizzie's hands tightly.
  "Yes.. Yes, Chansey, I'm fine. I'm.. I'm all right." Lizzie repeatedly
  says to her startled chaperone, apparently understanding every word. "No, no
  one was hurt. I wasn't in any danger. It's okay... Everything's all right..."
  "Well?" Demands Nurse Joy. "Speak up! I want answers."
  "It's like this, Aunt Joy..." Rex begins.

  Later that night, the trio of travelers stand together by the
  registration desk. Lizzie bids goodnight to her fellow companions and heads
  to the girl's dormitory, accompanied by her waddling pink Chansey, and her
  new Likitung stashed safely in a pokeball. Then Jeff and Rex find two cots in
  the corner of the boys' dorm. They stow their packs under the cots and make
  their beds, preparing for a long night's sleep. Although some travelers
  prefer to stay in local Hotels or Inns, many take advantage of the free bed
  and breakfast provided by the Pokemon Centers. Neither Jeff nor Rex can
  sleep, however, and stay up all night talking about different aspects of
  their pokemon journey. Just before the two of them doze off, sometime before
  dawn, Jeff remembers something.
  "Hey, Rex..." Jeff whispers, barely awake.
  "Yeah?" Rex mumbles, his eyes already shut.
  "You never told me how you and Lizzie met...." Jeff says, drifting off to
  sleep.
  "You just saw it." He mutters obscurely. "Goodnight..."
  With that, the two of them fall asleep and don't awaken until morning.

  Meanwhile, in the girls dorm, Lizzie is wide awake. No matter what
  position she lies in, she can't fall asleep. Finally, she realizes it's no
  use, she'll have to get up. She slowly climbs up off her cot, careful not to
  awaken any of the other girls in the room. Quietly she unzips her travel bag
  and removes a bottle of Tylenol PM. Her mother said before she left with Rex,
  that if she ever had trouble going to sleep, she could take one Tylenol with
  a glass of water. They were mild, her mother had explained, but Lizzie
  normally didn't take them because she didn't like taking pills. Now, however,
  she is so tired that she would do anything to fall asleep. So, taking one
  pill and a bottled water from her bag, she creeps out onto the terrace.
  Looking up into the moon, she sighs and for a moment lets her eyes drift
  shut. It is a beautiful night, and tomorrow morning she will get her sixth
  trainer badge. Squinting in the dark, she tries to find the mysterious gym,
  but she can't make out the outline in the dark. Lizzie yawns deeply, and
  decides to go back to bed. But as she turns around, she thinks she hears
  something. She looks up quickly, but nothing is there. Odd. She thinks. With
  a shrug, she shuts the sliding glass doors and goes to her cot to sleep. She
  sits down, but frowns to herself. Just as she looked up, for a moment she
  thought she had seen two little paws and a long, white tail vanish into a
  tall tree. Unable to ponder a mystery this late, she lies down. She is asleep
  before her head hits the pillow.

  Chapter Three

  Three A.M. at the Fuschia City Pokemon Center. The enormous, brightly
  colored dome is a landmark, to be sure. Located high on a hilltop overlooking
  the city, the Center is visible from as far away as the Safari Zone. On the
  other side of the town is Master Koga's gym, a sharp contrast with the
  Center. The gym, built like a Japanese pagoda, hovers over the city like a
  dark cloud. A spiraling path winds down the mountains from the mysterious
  building somewhere out in the forests. Few trainers dare to even approach it.
  But for now, in the Pokemon Center, everyone is asleep. Everyone, that
  is, except one little Eevee.
  "Eevee, Ee-vee!" The furry little pokemon hums in its sleep. It rolls
  around the cot which it shares with its master, Pokemon Trainer Rex. The
  petite brown creature twitches its tail back and forth, brushing against
  Rex's nose. It is in a very fitful sleep and can't stay still.
  "Mmmm..." Rex mutters, still asleep. "Cut it out...."
  "Eeeveeee...." Eevee sighs. It twitches its tail again, brushing Rex's
  nose.
  "MMMMM..." Rex mumbles, louder. "Stop it..."
  "Eevee!" Eevee squeals, and hops off of the cot. The sudden movement
  snaps Rex to his senses.
  "Huh? What?" Rex stutters, sitting up straight. He yawns and rubs his
  eyes. "Wh-What is it?"
  "Ee....Vee...Ee...Vee..." Eevee squeaks, walking away from him.
  "Eevee?" Rex asks. Then he rolls his eyes. "Oh, great. It's sleepwalking
  again."
  Sure enough, the pokemon's eyes are shut tight as it marches down the
  hall. Its tail twitches with each step. Its ears are perked and attuned to
  its surroundings. But it is sound asleep, for sure.
  "Hey!" Rex starts to yell. Then he remembers everyone else is asleep.
  "oops." He whispers. "Hey! Eevee! Stop! Come back here! Cease! Desist! Hey!"
  Eevee continues down the hall, oblivious to his trainer's commands.
  "Ooooohhh...." Rex moans. "Now I'll have to go get it."
  Down the hall, Eevee marches around the corner, still completely unaware
  of what is happening. Rex slips on his sandals and pursues it, calling out
  its name in a hoarse whisper.
  "Eevee!" He calls. "Come back here!" Still, the Eevee makes no response.
  It continues its steady trek down the halls.
  "It's too early for this." Rex groans as he follows his AWOL pokemon. It
  doesn't take long for him to come to the end of the hall, but when he does...
  "What the?" Rex gasps when he turns the corner. Eevee is nowhere to be
  seen. "That's funny. I thought I saw him come... OH!" Suddenly, Rex saw a
  bushy tail disappearing into another room. Rex quickly runs over to the open
  door and ducks inside.
  "HuH???" Rex exclaims inside. To his surprise, he has entered the girls'
  dormitory.
  "Oh... I'm not supposed to be here." Rex realizes. He quickly glances
  around the room and spots his Eevee curled up under a cot, sound asleep.
  Crossing the room, Rex is especially careful not to trip over any of the
  girls' duffle bags or backpacks on the floor. Silently he tiptoes to the cot
  and scoops up Eevee in one arm.
  "There you are, you little rascal!" Rex grins, looking into the sweet
  face of his furry little companion. "Why'd you get up? Huh? Don't you know
  pokemon need sleep too?" His half-hearted scolding is cut short, however,
  when he realizes whose cot Eevee was under.
  "Lizzie?" Rex whispers aloud. Sure enough, it is her. The tall, slender
  youth lies on her back with her hands folded over her T-shirt. Her
  strawberry-blond hair is spread out like a halo around her warm, glowing
  face. Even in sleep, she is dazzling. Her smooth, pearly skin shines in the
  moonlight. Her lips are red and rosy, sweeter than any flower Rex has ever
  seen. Rex sighs, blissfully content at having seen her for even a moment in
  repose. Then, he makes his biggest mistake ever.
  Rex, instead of turning around and walking from the room, takes a step
  directly backwards. As he does, the buckle on his left sandal catches on
  something. Before he realizes what has happened, he sprawls onto the ground.
  Eevee flies from his hands and sails across the room, landing softly on an
  empty cot. Rex opens his eyes and sees the object which he had tripped over,
  a shoelace.
  "Chansey!" Lizzie's Chansey chirps, hearing the sound. Seeing Rex, its
  eyes go wide. "CHAN-SEY!!"
  "What?!?!?" Lizzie cries, waking up instantly. She sees Rex on the floor.
  "AAAAIIIIIIEEEE!!!!" With a scream she bashes him on the head with a pillow.
  "Huh?! What!?" Girls are waking up all throughout the dormitory. "What's
  going on?!?"
  "Someone's in here!" Lizzie shouts. "Get out of here you jerk!"
  "Yeah! Scram!" The others shriek and begin socking him with pillows.
  "Hey! Ow! OOOOH!" Rex yells as he is bombarded on all sides. "No! ARRGH!
  Cut it out- OOF! I'm- OUCH!"
  "What? That voice-" Lizzie pauses, pillow in midair.
  "Leave this one to me!" An unknown voice declares. The girls part,
  revealing a young woman about the same age as Lizzie, with long, dark hair.
  She looks vaguely Oriental.
  "Keeeee-YAIII!!!!!!" She shouts and leaps through the air, foot extended.
  The midair blow catches Rex in the head and knocks him senseless.
  "OOOOOF!" Rex grunts and falls unconscious to the floor. The mysterious
  girl lands gracefully nearby. The intruder now subdued, the girls crowd
  around the fallen figure.
  "REX?" Lizzie exclaims in disbelief. "Is that you????"
  "Err... Grr... Ohhh..." Rex groans, coming to. A murmur runs through the
  crowd.
  "You, know this guy?" A brown-haired girl asks.
  "Um, well, sort of..." Lizzie blushes.
  "Wh-what hit me? A cement truck?" Rex asks groggily.
  "Never mind that!" Lizzie stamps impatiently. "What were you doing in
  here?"
  "Yeah!" The girls agree.
  "I was just looking for Eevee..." Rex points to the little puff ball on a
  nearby cot.
  "...Oh." Say the girls.
  "Well, that is pardonable." The girl who decked Rex states. "But next
  time try to announce your presence without alarming the whole dorm. If you
  do so, I will not have to knock you out again."
  "Fair deal." Rex grins. "I hope none of my teeth came loose."
  "Chansey... CHAN-SEY!" Chansey yells at the young man. It points to the
  door. "CHANSEY!"
  "Yeesh! Don't have to tell me twice!" Rex steps back. Then he enlarges a
  pokeball from his belt. "Eevee, return!" He calls, sending a beam of light
  that envelopes the pokemon and reels him back in. He eyes it wearily. "I know
  you hate being in there, but you've been a bad pokemon. You need to think
  about what you've done! I'll let you out when you're ready to appologize."
  "Um, does he always talk to his pokemon like that?" A girl whispers to
  Lizzie.
  "Like what?" Lizzie asks.
  "Oh! Nothing!" She quickly replies.
  "Sorry about this..." Rex shrugs sheepishly. Then he dashes out of the
  room, pokeball in hand. In a few minutes, the girls all return to sleep.
  "Spear-OW! Spear-OW! Spear-OW!" The poke-clock on the wall chimed six
  times. All through the boys' dorm, trainers began to stir. Yawning deeply,
  Jeff stands up out of his cot. Rex is already up, and impatiently tapping his
  foot at the door.
  "Are you ready yet?" Rex calls with mock exhasperation.
  "Yeah..." Jeff rolls his eyes and grins. "I'd hate to get between you and
  breakfast."
  "Righ!" Rex laughs. "Then what are we waiting for?"
  The two of them walk to the cafeteria, where the delicious aroma of
  pancakes and syrup waft through the air. When they get there, Lizzie is
  already at a booth. She waves at them, and they slide in next to her.
  "I hope you don't mind," She says, taking a bite of french toast. "But I
  already ordered for myself. You guys can go ahead and order, I got you some
  menus."
  "Hey, thanks, Lizzie." Rex says. "Hmmm... I think I'll have the pancakes
  with bacon and eggs."
  "Sounds good." Mumbles Jeff. "But I'm going to get waffles with grits."
  "Grits?" Lizzie and Rex exclaim in surprise.
  "Sure!" Jeff laughs. "You two are from up North, but down here, grits are
  a delicacy."
  "I'll stick with this, thanks." Lizzie says, pouring powdered sugar onto
  her french toast. "I say, the sweeter, the better. I love sugary food for
  breakfast! It gives me extra energy all day."
  "Like she needs extra energy." Rex says to Jeff.
  "I heard that!" Lizzie laughs. "You jerk!"
  They all laugh hysterically until the waitress comes to take their orders.
  After the waitress brings Rex and Jeff their food, the trio begins making
  plans for the day.
  "Okay." Rex says. "What do you guys want to do first? Should we go to
  Fuschia Gym, hit the Safari Zone, or see what's in the Poke-Mart?"
  "Well," Lizzie begins thoughtfully. "I want to get that badge, so I'd say
  let's go to the Gym."
  "Hmm, no offense to Lizzie," Jeff says. "But I'd rather build up my team
  a little more before challenging Master Koga. So I'd like to check out the
  Safari Zone first. Besides, we've got plenty of Antidote and Paralyze Heal
  that I bought last night, so there's no need to go back to the Poke-Mart."
  "Tough choice." Rex says. "I'm really eager to get that badge, and I'm
  pretty sure there'll be a line to get into the gym. So, how about this?
  Lizzie and I go to the gym and register for three matches. You go to the
  Safari Zone and buy three tickets. We'll meet up at the park gates and
  explore the Safari Zone until its time for our matches."
  "Sounds great!" Says Lizzie.
  "I'm in." Says Jeff.
  After a great breakfast, the trio gathers their bags and steps outside
  through the double doors of the Pokemon Center. Jeff walks down the steep
  hill toward the Safari Zone park on the edge of town. Lizzie and Rex turn and
  march uphill toward the Fuschia City Gym.
  Jeff whistles to himself as he marches steadily to the outskirts of the
  city. Jeff's lifelong dream has been to discover a new specie of bug pokemon.
  The Safari Zone is famous for its rare and exotic pokemon. Maybe, just maybe,
  he'll find one that no one else has ever seen! The thought encourages Jeff to
  break into a light jog. He runs up and down crowded streets, bustling with
  merchants and their carts, and the frugal tourists who only buy the best. The
  noise of other people blots out the gentle chirping of birds, quiet humming
  of bees, and even the sighing of the wind. Jeff covers his ears and hurries
  through the mob to serenity and peace in the forest beyond. Finally reaching
  the calmer, less-traveled back roads of the city, Jeff breathes in relief.
  Suddenly, and earsplitting scream pierces into Jeff's mind. He turns
  around. Behind an old, boarded up building, a young woman fights madly with
  two shadowy attackers. She is tall, thin, and has long black hair. Jeff is
  struck dubfounded by her beauty. As her opponents near her, she stares
  squarely back and assumes a fighter stance. Without warning, one of the
  figures lunges for the her. The young woman leaps into the air, kicks off the
  brick wall of the building, flips once, and shouts "Keee-YAIIII!", knocking
  the attacker onto the ground.
  "Ooof!" A man's voice grunts. "I see you are trained well, child. You are
  no match for us, though. Surrender your pokemon belt at once!"
  "Never!" The girl shouts. "I'll never give them up."
  "Perhaps we will persuade you otherwise." Surprisingly, a woman's voice
  comes from the other attacker. She and her partner produce their own
  pokeballs. "You'll never win!"
  "Hey!" Jeff yells, boldly marching toward them. "That's not fair! You've
  got her outnumbered!"
  The two thieves spin around, revealing a young man and a woman in their
  early twenties. They are both clad in street clothes, the kind one would wear
  to blend into a crowd. The man has bright blond hair, parted down the middle,
  and smooth gray eyes. The woman has dazzling strawberry-blond hair cut short,
  and emerald green eyes.
  "You are interrupting us." The man says. "This does not concern you."
  "Go at once, boy." The woman narrows her eyes.
  "I'm not leaving until you leave this young lady alone." Jeff states
  firmly, moving beside the hard-looking girl, though she was easily his age.
  "Very well." The man shrugs, unimpressed. "We shall have to defeat you
  both, then."
  "It shall be a pleasure." The woman agrees. "Perhaps my Grimer will
  evolve into Muk from the experience I get after beating you."
  "I wouldn't bet on it." The man taunts. "The two of them combined
  probably couldn't muster up more than 1 exp."
  "Put your pokemon where your mouth is!" Jeff demands.
  "Yes," Agrees the girl. "Is there to be a pokemon match, or shall we be
  rendered senseless by your chattering?"
  "Very well," The woman smiles coldly. "I shall enjoy this. Pokeball, g-!"
  "But wait!" The man interrupts. "It's tradition. We must first recite
  the- "
  "Oh of course!" The woman cries. "How could I forget? Well, quickly then."
  Without warning, smoke explodes all around them, causing Jeff and the
  girl to cough and gasp for air.
  "It... is... an old... ninja... trick..!" The girl calls through the
  dust. "Smoke... bomb.... capsules...!"
  "Allow us to introduce ourselves..." Two voices come in perfect
  synchronization.
  "To protect the world from devastation!"
  "To unite all peoples withing our nation!"
  "To denounce the evils of truth and love!"
  "To extend out reach to the stars above!"
  A spotlight fixates two figures in the center of the swirling smokescreen.
  "Artemus!"
  "Felice!"
  "Team Rocket, blast off at the speed of light!"
  "Surrender now or prepare to fight!"
  "HaHaHaHaHa!"
  "That's right!"
  Jeff and the girl gasp when they see the two thieves now clad in white
  uniforms with a red 'R' painted on their shirts.
  "Team Rocket?" Jeff says, perplexed. "I... I don't believe it!"
  Meanwhile, on the other side of town, Lizzie and Rex hike up a seemingly
  endless hill towards the distant Fuschia Gym. Along the way, they pass other
  trainers heading the other way. Many of them weep hopelessly, some mutter
  under their breath, some burn with anger. None of them are very happy. Once
  in a while, a trainer comes running down the slope, holding a fainted pokemon
  in his or her arms. "Hang on, Charmander!", "You'll be okay, Spearow!",
  "Help! My Bellsprout needs help!" These are the cries that echo in our
  heroes' ears as they continue to climb up the side of the slope. The two of
  them walk in silence for some time, the only sound penetrating the stillness
  that of their footsteps, and Chansey's waddling. Finally Lizzie speaks.
  "Whew! Some climb, huh?" She asks, taking a deep breath.
  "What? Oh, yeah!" Rex replies, panting. "Man, why did they have to put
  Fushcia City in the middle of a valley, anyways?"
  "And why is Koga's gym on the top of the tallest hill around?" Lizzie
  agrees. Then she falls silent for a moment.
  "Rex?" She says.
  "Yeah?"
  "Do you think we'll beat Master Koga?"
  "....Sure we will." Rex responds, a moment too late to sound convincing.
  Lizzie frowns to herself.
  "I hope so." She says after a minute of strained silence. "I really,
  really want that badge."
  "I do too." Rex says, more determined. "And I intend to win it, too!"
  "....Yeah!" Lizzie exclaims, her confidence growing. "I mean, who cares
  if they couldn't beat him? That just means they haven't trained their pokemon
  well enough, it doesn't say anything about us!"
  "Exactly!" Rex smiles. "Right! We don't have to be afraid of losing
  because some newbies didn't win. We're the best team on the planet!"
  "Mmm-hmm!" Lizzie hums in agreement. "Hey Rex, what pokemon are you going
  to use first?"
  "Hmmm.... I thought about leading with Vaporeon." He says after a moment
  of deliberation. "What about you?"
  Lizzie smiles and pats her pokemon belt. "I was thinking about trying out
  my new Likitung." She turns to him. "What do you think I should use?"
  "Well, let's see..." Rex cocks his head to one side in concentration.
  "You've only got five. Clefairy, Clefable, Jigglypuff, Wigglytuff, and
  Likitung."
  "And Chansey." Lizzie points out.
  "Well, Chansey doesn't count." Rex says.
  "What do you mean by that?" Lizzie demands, suddenly becoming angered.
  "Well, you never use it." Rex shrugs. "It's like your nanny; your
  chaperone. It doesn't fight. What's its level? -6? -7?"
  "Chan-sey....." Lizzie's pink and white nurse says sadly to itself. It
  lowers its head as if crushed by the statement.
  Lizzie stares at Rex for a second, then looks deeply into the eyes of her
  Chansey. Her heart melts as a wave of memories washes through her mind. She
  is six, playing in the park, and a mean kid pushes her into the sandbox.
  Chansey comes and picks her up, wipes off the dirt from her clothes, and hugs
  her until she stops crying. She is eight, and two bullies at school steal her
  milk money. She cries and cries until Chansey comes. It doubleslaps the punks
  until they hand over the money and run away crying. She is ten, and has
  fallen off her first bike. Her knee is scraped, and Chansey bandages her up
  and helps her walk back to the house. She is fourteen, getting ready for her
  first date. Chansey helps her get dressed and does her hair. The doorbell
  rings, and Chansey hugs her warmly before she steps out the door. Now,
  standing on the path with Rex, she lifts Chansey's head so its gaze meets
  hers.
  "Chansey is at level 94." She states proudly. "And I would be honored if
  you would be my first pokemon, old friend."
  "Chansey! CHAN-sey!" The round, fluffy pokemon sings gleefully.
  "Level 94? Wow!" Rex exclaims, dumbfounded. "Man, even Jolteon is that
  strong, and he was my first pokemon! You've raised Chansey well, Lizzie."
  "No." Lizzie says after a moment. "Chansey raised me."
 

  Chapter Four

  The bright, sea-blue eyes of Jeff contrast sharply with the cold,
  stone-gray eyes of Artemus. The older boy holds an enlarged pokeball in his
  right hand, rolling it over and over in his palm. His face holds no trace of
  kindness or even recognition as he stares at Jeff. To his right, the dazzling
  green in Felice's eyes shines like twin emeralds even in the fading light.
  She smirks to herself, confidently assuming that the young boy and his female
  ally shall pose no threat against the combined might of the two Team Rocket
  members. All four of them hold their pokeballs, waiting for someone to make
  the first move. Somewhere in the distance, a Growlithe faintly barks.
  Finally, a single spark ingites the flame and the battle begins.
  "Pokeball, go!" Felice shouts, cackling to herself. There is a momentary
  flash of light, revealing a purplish glob of slime on the grass. It stretches
  itself up, plops out two arms, and hisses.
  "Grimer!" It growls. Jeff holds his nose as soon as he gets a whiff of
  the terrible smell eminating from the slimey beast. The dark-haired girl to
  his side does the same.
  "Vileplume, I choose you." Artemus says unemotionally. He tosses out his
  own pokeball, which flashes and releases a large, plant-like creature with
  enormous petals on its head.
  "All right then!" Jeff announces. "I choose you! Scyther!" In a swift
  motion, he throws out a red and white orb which emits a blast of light. A
  green, armoured creature, somewhere between dragonfly and dinosaur lifts into
  the air with its razorlike wings.
  "Scy-theeeerrrrrr!" It screeches, hovering above the other two pokemon.
  "And I shall choose Machamp!" The girl states matter-of-factly. With
  blinding speed she throws out a pokeball which snaps open, releasing a
  four-armed, muscular fighting pokemon.
  "Then let the battle begin." Artemus smiles without feeling.
  "Grimer, sludge attack!" Felice orders. The pokemon spits a glob of toxic
  muck that splatters against Scyther's wings, forcing it to land.
  "Scy-therrrrrrr!" The reptillian pokemon shrieks.
  "Vileplume, Stun Spore!" Artemus yawns.
  "Vile!" The flower pokemon says as it sprays a wave of powdery-gas onto
  the winged lizard. Scyther becomes paralyzed, completely unable to move.
  "NO! Scyther, return!" Jeff shouts, recalling his pokemon. "Wow, they're
  pretty good! I didn't even get to attack!"
  "Machamp, Comet Punch!" Jeff's companion shouts. Her enormous pokemon
  leaps over the cloud of Stun Spore and lands before Vileplume. Then, without
  warning, it bombards the plant type pokemon with all four fists!
  "Vile-Pluuuuuume!!!!" The pokemon cries as it is knocked against a tree.
  Artemus arches a single eyebrow.
  "Somewhat impressive." He sighs. "But I am not yet beaten. Vileplume,
  absorb!"
  Before Machamp can stop hitting it, Vileplume glows bright red. In an
  instant, the energy field engulfs the fighting pokemon, sapping its immense
  strength while holding it stationary.
  "Ma-Chaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaamp!" It yells, flailing all four arms about.
  "Grimer, Toxic!" Felice sneers. The sickening blob opens its mouth wide
  and sprays Machamp with a dark blue toxin. The fighting pokemon collapses to
  the ground, immobile.
  "You fight without honor!" The girl says, disgusted. "Two against one is
  unfair!"
  "However will we forgive ourselves?" Artemus shakes his head, amused by
  her self-righteousness.
  "This ought to even the odds!" Jeff calls, tossing out two more
  pokeballs. "You break the rules, I will too!"
  "Pinsiiiiir!"
  "Parasect!"
  Jeff's two pokemon appear on the battle field. In an instant, pinsir
  clamps its mammoth pincers onto Vileplume, and hurls it into a tree. Parasect
  sprays its spore dust on Grimer, and Slashes with its claws as the slimeball
  becomes drowzy.
  "Ay, Carumba!" Felice shouts. "You think you have us beaten, Chico? Think
  again!" She pulls a canister from her pocket, and sprays Grimer with it.
  Suddenly, Grimer glows bright blue, and Parasect can barely scratch it even
  with its huge claws.
  "She used an X Defend on Grimer!" The girl whispers to Jeff.
  "HaHaHaHaHa!" Felice laughs, her gorgeous hair swaying in the breeze.
  "Care to surrender?"
  "Never!" Jeff yells, even as Grimer uses its pound attack on Parasect.
  "You are stubborn," Artemus rolls his eyes. "But you are not a clever
  trainer. Vileplume, Petal Dance!"
  Vileplume begins spinning wildly, now and then shooting off petals from
  its head. It leaps down from the tree and clobbers Pinsir right between the
  eyes. Pinsir flinches, allowing the flowery pokemon to score two more hits on
  the torso. While Parasect and Pinsir battle Grimer and Vileplume, the
  long-haired girl trainer tends to her weakened Machamp.
  "How badly are you injured, Machamp?" She asks, touching a lump on her
  faithful pokemon's head.
  "Ma-Champ." It responds weakly. Its trainer frowns, shaking her head.
  Then she pulls a spray bottle from her supply pouch.
  "If they shall use enhancements, we shall too." She sprays Machamp with a
  bottle marked 'Hyper Potion.' Then, almost relunctantly, she removes a small
  wrapper from the pouch. Removing the cellophame, she produces a Rare Candy.
  "It seems it is necessary for you to take this if we are to win." She says as
  she hands Machamp the capsule. "Remember, you are strong and wise; this
  experience boost changes nothing. You are still the greatest fighting pokemon
  ever, my friend."
  "Ma-Chammmp." The pokemon holds her hands with two of his. Suddenly, it
  begins to glow. Its muscles bulge even larger. It grows two inches taller.
  "MAAAAA-CHAAAAAAAMP!" It roars, ready to do battle. Artemus and Felice look
  up, surprised.
  "As my friend said," The girl smiles. "'This should even the odds.'"

  Blissfully ignorant of their friend's plight, Rex, Lizzie, and Chansey
  reach the top of the steep hillside and stand before the infamous Fuschia
  Gym. Built like a pagoda, the structure towers over our heroes; truly an
  ominous sight. A banner hangs from the third story, reading "Welcome All
  Pokemon Trainers!" But the sign is old, it cold have been hanging their for
  years. The writing is blurred from rain and snow, and the canvass is torn.
  Weeds cover the lawn and tree limbs brush against the side of the building.
  Not a light is on inside. For all our heroes know, no one has been here for
  decades.
  "That's funny." Rex scratches his head. "This doesn't look like a pokemon
  gym."
  "But we saw all those trainers coming down the hill." Lizzie argues.
  "This must be the gym."
  "Chan-sey." Chansey agrees.
  "You're right." Rex says, reach into his pocket. "Okay, then. I guess I'd
  better let Eevee out of his pokeball." He presses a button, enlarging the
  sphere, then drops it on the ground. Eevee materializes at Rex's feet.
  "Eevee!" The furry pokemon squeals, happy to be out again. Then, seeing
  its master, it becomes remorseful. "Veeeeee." It cries. Rex pats it on the
  head and picks it up.
  "There, there. It's okay, little guy." Rex says reassuringly. "I'm not
  mad at you. I know you can't help sleepwalking. Just be more careful next
  time, okay?"
  "Ee-Vee!" Eevee squeaks, eager to get back to winning matches. With
  renewed determination, our heroes march up the stone steps to the heavy
  wooden doors. A Golbat doorknocker grins eerily back at them. Taking a deep
  breath, Rex picks up the knocker and lets it fall. It lands with a loud thud.
  "Who disturbs us?" A harsh voice comes from inside. A panel in the door
  slides away, revealing two shifty, suspicious eyes. "Well? Speak up!"
  "My name is Rex." Rex says in as brave a voice as he can muster, under
  the circumstances. "This is my friend, Lizzie. We are pokemon trainers, and
  we wish to challenge to local gym leader to-"
  "No matches." The gruff voice cuts him off. "Master Koga shall see no
  more trainers today. Go home!"
  "Wait! We just-" Rex calls, but the panel slides shut. Footsteps from
  inside move away from the door and fade out.
  "This is ridiculous!" Lizzie exclaims. "Gym's are open until at least
  seven, and its only three thirty!"
  "Chan-sey." Chansey agrees, nodding its head.
  "Maybe there's another way in." Rex suggests.
  "Eevee! Ee-Vee!" Rex's Eevee squeaks, jumping up and down. It keeps
  pointing its nose around the corner of the gym.
  "What is it, Eevee?" Lizzie asks. "Do you want us to follow you?"
  "EEVEE!" It squeals in delight. Then it runs around to the other side of
  the pagoda.
  "Hey! Wait up!" Rex calls. He, Lizzie, and Chansey run after it.
  On the opposite end of the tower, they find Eevee standing in front of a
  single door.
  "Hey! Good job, Eevee!" Rex commends his little pokemon, scratching it
  behind the ears.
  "Who ever heard of a gym closing so early?" Lizzie seethes. "That guard
  must be crazy. Someone ought to report him to Master Koga."
  "Anyone in mind?" Rex rolls his eyes, knowing what was coming. With a
  tremendous jerk, Lizzie flings open the door, which strangely isn't locked.
  Through the doorway is a pitch-black room. Nothing is visible at all, not
  even the floor.
  "Uh... why don't you go first, Rex?" Lizzie steps back. "I'll, um, hold
  the door for you."
  "Gee... er, no thanks, Lizzie," Rex stutteres. "I, um, I just couldn't
  deprive you of the honor of entering first."
  "Oh no! I insist!" Lizzie urges him. "I couldn't possibly hold you back.
  I know you really want to go in there."
  "Ladies first!" Rex declines.
  "Age before beauty!" Lizzie refuses.
  "What's that supposed to mean?"
  "What's it to ya?"
  "Why I oughta..."
  "CHAN-SEY!" Chansey shouts, stepping between them. Then it grabs Rex by
  the shoulders and flings him through the door.
  "Aiiee!" Rex shouts as he is flung into darkness. Eevee scurries in
  behind him.
  "Thanks, Chansey!" Lizzie smiles. Together, she and her pokemon nurse
  walk inside. The wind blows the door shut behind them.

  Inside the dark, eerie gym, our heroes stumble through utter blackness.
  The only light at all comes through cracks in the rickety old door. Tiny rays
  of light pierce through and cast shadows over the entire room. Finally, the
  silence is broken.
  "Hello?" Rex calls. "Is anybody in here?"
  "Master Koga?" Lizzie asks. "Can you here us? We want a match!"
  "Oof!" Rex grunts as his nose hits something hard.
  "What is it?" Lizzie asks, startled.
  "I- I think it's a fireplace." Rex mutters, his face still throbbing.
  "Let's shed some light on the subject." Lizzie says. "Chansey, can you
  perform Flash for me?"
  "Chan-sey." Chansey smiles. Suddenly, it emits a faint glow, lighting the
  area immediately around them.
  Sure enough, Rex had hit the mantle over a brick fireplace.
  "Hmph!" Rex grumbles. "Lousy place to put a fireplace."
  "Hey, what's that?" Lizzie ignores him, looking at something on the
  mantle. "It looks like an old photo..."
  "...Yeah." Rex says, noticing it. "And its got a little girl in it."
  The child, no older than ten, has jet black hair combed into bangs, and
  deep, thoughtful eyes. It almost seems like the girl in the photo is watching
  them.
  "Aww, she's so cute!" Lizzie cooes, touching the framed picture.
  "Why does she look so... familiar?" Rex mumbles under his breath. He is
  puzzled, though it is almost certain that he has met this girl before.
  "Who goes there?" A harsh voice interrupts their thoughts. The lights
  snap on overhead. Our heroes turn and see a tall, slim man with spikes of
  black hair and fierce, piercing eyes. He stands by the lightswitch, glaring
  at Lizzie and Rex. They both instantly recognize him as the leader of the
  Fuschia City Gym, Master Koga.
  "Oh, um, we just were trying to-" Rex starts, unsuccessfully.
  "We just, er, wanted a match, you see, um," Lizzie tries with no better
  luck.
  "What is that?!?" The ninja master hisses, seeing the photo in Lizzie's
  hand. "Put that down this instant!!!" He shrieks. Lizzie, startled, drops it
  to the ground. The frame shatters on impact.
  "Oh, I'm sorry!" Lizzie gushes. "I didn't mean-"
  "You clumsy fool!" Master Koga shouts in a rage. "Get out of here this
  second! All of you are breaking and entering I shall call Officer Jenny!"
  "No!" Exclaims Rex, alarmed. "Please, Mister Koga, we aren't thieves! We
  just-"
  "Silence!" He yells. "I am MASTER Koga, young one! And I demand that you
  leave! GET OUT!!!!!!!!"
  This time, Lizzie and Rex take heed to the man's warning. They turn and
  dash out the door, Chansey and Eevee right on their heels. The door slams
  shut behind them, and they run all the way down the hillside to the city
  below.

  "Grimer, Disable!" Felice orders her blobbish pokemon. It eagerly
  complies and freezes Machamp in midair with its debilitating stare.
  "MaaaaChaaaamp!" The fighting pokemon groans, stuggling to break free of
  the invisible cage.
  "Drowzee, Confusion Attack." Artemus commands unemotionally. Drowzee
  narrows its eyes and emits a blast of energy that distorts the air it passes
  through. The rippling wave of power knocks Parasect and Pinsir against the
  brick wall of a building.
  "Machamp!!" The dark-haired girl cries.
  "Parasect! Pinsir!" Jeff groans, seeing both his pokemon severely
  weakened. Pinsir is so worn down that it can no longer fight. Jeff recalls it.
  "Hahahahahaha!" Felice cackles. "Are you giving up, boy?"
  "Yes, do get on with it." Artemus yawns. "What do you hope to achieve,
  young one? You cannot possibly defeat us!"
  "Never! I'll never give up!" Jeff shouts. "My Pinsir made your Vileplume
  faint, didn't it?"
  "Yes, and my Drowzee beat your Pinsir." Artemus arches his eyebrows. "I
  don't see how you can possibly pull a victory out of this with just a
  Parasect?"
  "Just a Parasect?" Jeff growls. "I'll have you know that Parasect is my
  strongest pokemon! Parasect, Stun Spore!"
  Parasect hisses and sprays Drowzee and Grimer with a cloud of painful,
  stinging powder. Drowzee screams in agony. Grimer loses concentration and
  Machamp breaks free. Charging across the battleground, Machamp decks Grimer
  with four well-aimed punches. Parasect swiftly moves to Slash Drowzee with
  its claws. Drowzee flinches and falls back, wounded.
  "Impossible!" Artemus shouts.
  "I don't understand !" Felice cries.
  "Believe it." Jeff says bluntly. "You are beaten!"
  "Yes, surrender now." The girl trainer smiles. "For we shall surely win
  the fight!"
  "Grrrrrr!" Artemus and Felice hiss, angered at hearing their own motto
  used against them.
  "Fortunately, we always cheat." Artemus smiles, recovering his calm
  demeanor.
  "Huh?" Jeff asks, confused.
  "Be wary of them!" The other trainer cautions. "They mean some evil!"
  "What was your first clue?" Artemus mocks.
  "Voltorb!" Shouts Felice. She flings what appears to be a pokeball into
  the center of the arena. "Explosion!"
  A devastating blast knocks Jeff and his ally off their feet. But they
  weren' the targets of the bomb.
  "Oh no!" Jeff yells. "Parasect!"
  "Machamp!" The young lady shouts in alarm.
  The two pokemon lie on their sides, unmoving. Their trainers rush over to
  them.
  "Please, Parasect! Say something!" Jeff begs, a tear running down his
  cheek.
  "Machamp! Wake up! Ma-Champ!" The girl cries, becoming emotional for the
  first time that day.
  "p-para-s-sect...." Jeff's wounded pokemon manages to get out.
  "m-ma-cham-p...." The muscular hulk groans. So, they are alive at least,
  though very weak.
  "Hahahahahahahaha!" Felice cackles gleefully. "Your pokemon are in no
  shape to fight! We are the victors!"
  "Yes!" Artemus grins wickedly. "And to the victors go the spoils. Hand
  over your pokemon at once!"
  "Y-you j-jerks!" Jeff blurts out. "Don't you get it? This isn't about who
  won or not! If our pokemon don't get help right away, they'll die!"
  "Yes!" The girl trainer glares furiously at the Team Rocket members."Is
  there no honor among thieves? Surely you, though you are cowards, would
  rather these two creatures live than you desire wealth and power!"
  "Oh, please!" Felice rolls her eyes. "You sound like a self-help book!"
  "This is war." Artemus states bluntly. "And in war, sometimes you lose a
  bystander. If you hadn't gotten involved, boy, your pokemon would be fine."
  "And if you had surrendered yours to begin with," Felice points to the
  girl. "-Then that hulk their would be alright, too! If it's anyone's fault,
  it's yours."
  "Hey!" A voice calls from outside the ring. All four trainers whip
  around. Standing on the curb by the side yard is a boy, a girl, and a...
  Chansey?
  "Rex! Lizzie!" Jeff calls, amazed. "What are you guys doing here?"
  "Apparently, saving you!" Rex says seriously. "And just who do you creeps
  think you are?"
  "Prepare for- Oh, skip it." Artemus rolls his eyes, stepping into the
  light. Then his eyes go wide. "It's you!"
  "What the-?" Lizzie and Rex both exclaim. "You????"
  "What are they doing here?" Felice shouts.
  "You... know each other?" The girl with dark hair asks, stepping out of
  the shadows. Then, she too gets a surprise. "It's you! From the Pokemon
  Center!"
  "You're the girl that decked me!" Rex says, surprised.
  "Hey, I remember you!" Lizzie screams.
  "Am I missing something?" Jeff asks.
  "Grrr... We, can't beat all of them, Artemus." Felice grudgingly admits.
  "'Tis of little consequence." Artemus shrugs. "You have merely delayed
  the inevitable. Team Rocket shall rule the world!"
  "Not today!" Rex yells. "Get out of here, before I sick my Flareon on
  you!"
  "Farewell, boy." Artemus says to Jeff, emphasizing the 'boy'. "I shall
  enjoy defeating you the next time we meet!"
  Suddenly, a flash of light blinds our heroes. Everyone shields their eyes
  from the glare. Finally, when the intense brightness subsides, and the
  trainers look up, Team Rocket and their pokemon are gone. Only a small
  playing card, with an "R" instead of an Ace, lies in the middle of the field.

  "What were they after?" Rex asks after a moment. "Your pokemon?"
  "Yes..." Stammers the girl. "Thank you all for helping me, especially
  after I... um, well..."
  "Hey, no hard feelings!" Laughs Rex, gritting his teeth against his
  throbbing headache that has persisted all day.
  "Yeah, Rex has a head harder than stone!" Lizzie laughs. Rex rolls his
  eyes.
  "Anyway, guys," Jeff says gravely. "We have a big problem. Team Rocket is
  in Fuschia City! We have to tell the local police right away! Oh, and did you
  sign us up at the gym?"
  "We tried..." Lizzie shrugs. "But Master Koga didn't appreciate our
  barging in."
  "You, you saw Master Koga?" The dark-haired girl asks.
  "Yeah," Says Lizzie. "Why?"
  "He is... my father." She finishes.
  "Your father???" Jeff exclaims.
  "No wonder you could kick so hard!" Rex says, amazed. "You're the
  daughter of the legendary ninja master!"
  "We... we haven't seen each other in a long time." She lowers her head.
  "...I'm sorry, I haven't formerly introduced myself. I am Katrina Nagaki,
  daughter of Gym Leader Koga of Fuschia. I am honored to make your
  acquaintance."
  "Um, yeah, it's nice to meet you, Katrina." Jeff says, unsure.
  "Why did you leave home?" Lizzie asks, stepping up to Katrina. The
  dark-haired warrior cringes.
  "Father and I had a fight." She says after a minute. "He wanted me to one
  day take up the family business, I wanted to follow my dream of, you will
  laugh..."
  "No!" Lizzie assures her. "We won't. Tell us."
  "I always wanted..." She starts. "To become a pokemon master in the
  Pokemon League."
  "What's wrong with that?" Rex butts in. "If you wait- ow!" Lizzie kicks
  him in the shins.
  "Why does your father disapprove?" She asks Katrina.
  "He says that no child of his would disobey him." Katrina sighs. "He
  forbade me to leave... so I left."
  "HuH?" Rex gasps. "I can't believe that you- OW!"
  "Don't pay attention to him." Lizzie says, gesturing to Rex as he hops on
  one foot, screaming. "Katrina, I don't blame you for being angry, but it's
  your duty to tell your father just how you feel, even when he's wrong."
  "I.... know..." Katrina sniffs. "But... It's so hard!.. (sob!)" Lizzie
  holds Katrina while Chansey puts a comforting hand on her shoulder.
  "It's okay," Lizzie consoles her. "It's okay. We'll go with you to the
  gym."

  Together, the group of trainers hikes up the steep hill to Fuschia Gym.
  When they reach the pagoda, the sun is setting below the horizon. With bold
  determination, Katrina knocks on the front door.
  "Who is there?" A harsh voice comes from inside.
  "F-father?" Katrina says, unsure.
  "Katrina??? Is- is it possible????" The door flies open. Inside, Master
  Koga stands at the threshhold, clothed in his finest robes.
  "Father!" Katrina cries, leaping into her father's outstretched arms.
  "My daughter! My dear Katrina, you have come home!" Master Koga laughs,
  tears of merriment in his eyes. "Oh, my child, I haven't seen you in so long!"
  "I know, Father!" Katrina laughs. "I have missed you so much! I should
  have told you before I left, but-"
  "Shh, do not speak," Koga orders. "All that matters is you are here now,
  my child. And maybe... maybe it is I who should appologize, for not
  acknowledging your right to choose your own future. But let us not ponder
  this now. Come, all of you, let us celebrate the return of my beloved
  daughter. And tomorrow, you three will be the first trainers to compete for
  the coveted Soul Badge!"
  "All right!" Jeff yells.
  "YES!" Rex exclaims.
  "Eevee!" Eevee squeaks.
  "Chan-sey." Chansey sings merrily.
  At the banquet that night, everyone laughs festively, enjoying the good
  food and good company. While the others party, the two girls step aside for a
  moment to talk.
  "Thank you." Katrina smiles warmly. "Thank you for giving me the courage
  I needed to come back here. I... I know I can never repay you..."
  "Think nothing of it!" Lizzie insists. "I guess we all need to face our
  fears once in awhile." She grows sober. "Maybe one day I'll have the courage
  to see my father again."
  "Surely you have not fallen out of favor with your father?" Katrina
  exclaims.
  "Well..." Lizzie sighs. "You could say that."
  While the music plays and the travelers feast, the two girls have a
  heart-to-heart conversation that takes them deep into the night.

  Meanwhile, in the dirty slums near the edge of town, a very different
  meeting is taking place. The Team Rocket members, Artemus and Felice, enraged
  by their recent loss, brood over what to do next.
  "That Parasect was abnormally strong." Felice comments. "It would make a
  fine addition to the Team Rocket arsenal."
  "Yes, and that Machamp caught my eye, too." Artemus states. "Perhaps...
  perhaps things are not as dreary as they seem. I think we may still be able
  to pull a victory from the jaws of defeat."
  "Next time, they will not be so lucky!" Felice cackles. "Next time, we
  shall conquer!"
  "And I shall enjoy defeating that, boy!" Artemus laughs. "I almost feel
  sorry for him."
  "Hahahahahahahahahahaha!" Their malignant laughter echoes through the
  night.
 

  Chapter 5

  The sunlight of the new day pours through the enormous skylight of the
  topmost story of the Fuschia City Gym. This arena, set up like a dojo of
  times past, is a monument to Poison Pokemon. Twin statues of a Nidoking and
  Nidoqueen pour water from their mouths into a shimmering reflective pool. A
  Butterfree sculpture slowly flaps its wings like fans, keeping the room cool.
  The walls are covered in tapestries of Weezing, Muk, Venonat, Arbok, and
  various others. Indeed, poison pokemon are the central theme of this room.
  Standing in the center of the dojo is a fourteen-year-old girl with long,
  black hair and fierce eyes. From atop the small bridge that crosses the
  reflection pond, she surveys all in the room. She is gorgeous, yet powerful.
  She is clothed in a glittering kimono with ornate designs woven into the
  delicate fabric. She stares pointedly at the trio of trainers standing at the
  threshhold.
  "Are you prepared to battle me?" She asks them.
  "Katrina?" Rex says, surprised. "I- I didn't know we'd be fighting you."
  "Yes, what about Master Koga?" Jeff interjects. "He said he would be the
  one to battle us."
  "My father thought it would be wiser if I handled this match." Katrina
  responds in a businesslike manner. "For reasons that are unknown to me, he
  insisted upon it."
  "All right," Rex agrees, reluctantly. "I'll play along. How many pokemon
  each?"
  "He also insisted," Katrina states, holding out her hand for him to stop.
  "That Jeff be the first to fight."
  "Huh?" Jeff gasps, startled. "Me? Well... okay, I accept."
  "Most excellent." Katrina smiles. "Then let us begin. We shall each use
  one pokemon, and there shall be a time limit of ten minutes."
  "Ten minutes?" Jeff gulps. "...I guess I can handle that."
  "Good! In that case..." Katrina announces, lifting up a pokeball. "I
  choose Weezing!"
  She throws the pokeball into the ring. It flashes, releasing a
  three-headed floating creature in a cloud of smoke.
  "WeEeEeZzZiIiInNnGg!" It gasps, spraying the air with a light fog of
  noxious gas.
  "I choose you, Parasect!" Jeff shouts, throwing his own pokeball into the
  ring. "Parasect, Spore!"
  Parasect releases a blast of pollen which coats Weezing. The floating
  pokemon shuts its eyes and crashes to the hard floor. "Parrrrra-secccct!"
  The bug pokemon hisses, charging towards its fallen opponent with its claws
  pointed out. Just before it reaches Weezing, however, the poison pokemon
  snaps back into consciousness and lifts off. Parasect swipes its claws just
  after Weezing is out of reach.
  "Weezing, Smokescreen!" Katrina orders. The pokemon responds by filling
  the room with thick black smoke.
  "Parasect, Stun Spore!" Jeff commands. Immediately, Parasect sprays a
  cloud of stinging, itching spores into the air. There is silence for a
  moment. Then, a loud groan escapes the smoke cloud. Finally, Weezing
  collapses to the ground, totally immobile.
  "No way!" Rex shouts in amazement from the sidelines. "You won in 3 and
  1/2 minutes!!!"
  "Incredible." Lizzie shakes her head in wonder.
  "I- I am impressed." Katrina acknowledges, recalling her Weezing. "You...
  have great potential, trainer Jeff. And so, I award you this Soul Badge,
  symbolic of your undaunted determination in the face of adversity."
  "Aw, shucks..." Jeff grins sheepishly. "It weren't nothing..."

  "Who shall battle me next?" Katrina issues her challenge.
  "Ha! That's easy," Rex starts. "I'd be glad t- OW!"
  "Sorry, Rex." Lizzie smiles after stepping on his foot. "But I've got
  dibs on this match."
  "I acknowledge trainer Lizzie." Katrina nods. "As in the previous match,
  we will each use 1 pokemon. This time, there shall be an indefinite time
  limit. Are you ready?"
  "Yes." Lizzie grits her teeth.
  "Excellent." Katrina again nods. "For my first pokemon, I shall use
  Arbok!"
  She throws a pokeball into the ring. It snaps open instantly, revealing a
  coiled cobra-like pokemon.
  "Chaarrrr-Bok!" It screeches, lashing its forked tongue.
  "Then I shall choose..." Lizzie points to her pokemon escort. "Chansey!"
  "Chan-sey." The puffy pink pokemon replies, waddling into the ring.
  Katrina blinks in puzzlement.
  "S-surely this is some sort of joke..." The dark-haired gym leader
  sputters. "A... a Chansey?? You cannot be serious?"
  "Quite serious, actually." Lizzie smiles. "Chansey's my strongest
  pokemon, and my best friend."
  "Very well." Katrina approves. "Let us begin. Arbok, Poison Sting attack!"
  "Charrrrr-BOK!" The snake hisses. Then it spits out a wave of poisonous
  darts.
  "Chansey, Light Screen!" Lizzie shouts. Chansey waves its hand in the
  air, forming a invisible barrier. The needles ricochet harmlessly off.
  "Chansey, Egg Bomb!" Lizzie orders. Obediently, Chansey lifts an egg from
  its pouch and holds it in both hands. The egg begins to glow bright pink, and
  Chansey hurls it at Arbok. It explodes upon impact, knocking Arbok through
  the air and against the wall.
  "ChaRrRBbBoKkkKk!...!" It groans.
  "Arbok, Glare now!" Katrina calmly orders. Instantly, the serpent's eyes
  turn bright green, sending a paralyzing blast of light at Chansey's face.
  "Chansey, blink!" Lizzie calls. Chansey skillfully shuts its eyes, and
  the attack it useless.
  "Arbok, Screech!" Katrina commands. The reptillian pokemon opens its
  mouth and emits a terrible, nails-on-chalkboard sound that petrifies everyone
  in the room.
  "Oh, that noise!" Jeff groans, covering his ears.
  "Auuuggh! Make it stop!" Rex shrieks.
  "Wh-what is happening?" Katrina gasps, staring at Chansey. "It- it is
  having no effect!"
  Sure enough, Chansey has rolled itself into a giant pink ball, shielding
  itself from the devastating sound attack.
  "It's Chansey's defense curl!" Lizzie laughs. "The sound can't penetrate!
  And I don't know how long Arbok can keep it up..."
  True to her words, Arbok begins coughing and sputtering, the constant
  Screeching rubbing its throat raw.
  "Arbok! Stop!" Katrina orders. But Arbok, refusing to obey orders,
  charges Chansey. It leaps through the air, forming a high arch, and closes in
  on its helpless prey.
  "Chan-Sey!" The pink pokemon sings, popping its head up. Just as Arbok is
  about to strike, Chansey unleashes two devastating punches upon it. Arbok
  screams and collapses to the ground.
  "Double-Edge!" Katrina growls. "I should have seen it coming."
  "Nice one, Chansey!" Lizzie calls. "Now give it your Doubleslap!"
  "Chan-SEY." Chansey replies as it bombards the defenseless Arbok with a
  barrage of blows.
  "ArRrBoOoKkK!" The poison pokemon groans in agony.
  "That's enough!" Katrina shouts. She returns Arbok to its pokeball. "I
  admit it, you have won. For your achievement, I award you the Soul Badge.
  Wear it with pride on your way to the Pokemon League!"
  "YES!" Lizzie shouts, leaping joyously into the air. "We DID it! Thank
  you, Chansey ! Thank you, Katrina! Yahoo!"
  "All right, now it's my turn!" Rex grins. "And for my first pokemon, I
  will use-"
  Before he can finish his sentence, the skylight shatters, sending shards
  of glass raining to the floor.
  "What the-?!" Jeff exclaims.
  "Look out!" Lizzie cries.
  "What is going on?" Katrina demands.
  "Greetings!" A familiar voice calls from above. Two synchronized voices
  come in perfect harmony. "Allow us to re-introduce ourselves."
  "Oh, no..." Rex groans.

  "To protect the world from devastation!"
  "To unite all peoples within our nation!"
  "Uh, let me guess." Lizzie cuts in sharply. "'To denounce the evils of
  truth and love?"
  "Silence!" Felice shouts, poking her head over the edge of the ceiling.
  "It is disrespectful to interrupt the Team Rocket motto!"
  "Yes!" Artemus agrees, also appearing atop the roof. "Now, ahem, as we
  were saying: To denounce the evils of truth and love!"
  "To extend our reach to the stars above!"
  "Artemus!"
  "Felice!"
  "Team Rocket, blast off at the speed of light!"
  "Surrender now, or prepare to fight!"
  "Hahahaha-hack! Cough! Choke!"
  "Artemus!" Felice scolds.
  "I- hack! -can't -choke! -help -cough! -it!" Artemus gasps. "I'm allergic
  to pollen! Ack!"
  "Ohh... why do I even bother?" Felice tosses up her hands in frustration.
  "What do you want, Team Rocket?" Rex shouts.
  "You thieves have no business here!" Katrina states indignantly. "Begone
  at once, or we shall defeat you again!"
  "Oh, I'm terrified!" Felice scoffs. "What do you say, Artemus?"
  "I- need- my- inhaler!" He sputters, his normally calm features twisted
  in agony.
  Lizzie, unable to suppress a laugh any longer, giggles uncontrollably.
  "What are you laughing at?" Felice demands, irate. "You dare mock Team
  Rocket? Well, then, I'll give you something to laugh about!"
  With a flick of the wrist, Felice hurls a Voltorb down from the ceiling.
  It sails directly toward Lizzie, preparing to explode.
  "NO!!!!!!" Rex shouts. In the course of a second, three important things
  happen at once.
  Lizzie stares in horror as the bomb hurtles toward her.
  Chansey dives through the air, placing itself in the Voltorb's path.
  An uninvolved bystander witnesses our heroine's plight, and intervenes.
  "...Huh?" Rex gasps. A thin dome of light has encircled Lizzie and
  Chansey, and the Voltorb ricochets off, flying right back to its owner.
  "Oh, no!!!!" Felice and Artemus shout as teh ball careens up at them.
  KABOOOOOOOOOOOOM!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! The tremendous explosion knocks both
  of them off the pagoda and clear out of Fuschia City.
  "Don't....Say....It!...." Artemus groans as they sail over the horizon.

  Back in the gym, Lizzie collapses onto the floor. Chansey immediately
  picks her up and holds her in its arms.
  "Move aside!" Rex yells, pushing Jeff to one side. He kneels down beside
  Lizzie.
  "Rex, what are you doing?" Jeff asks, unoffended.
  "My mom is a nurse! I know a few things about First Aid!" Rex says,
  tilting Lizzie's head back. "I'm treating her for shock." Then he looks into
  Chansey's worried eyes. "Trust me, I know what I'm doing."
  "Chan-sey....." The pinkish pokemon nods, entrusting her care into the
  young man's hands.
  "I-I'll call an ambulance..." Katrina shakes her head, coming back into
  reality. She swiftly moves to a phone shaped like an Oddish on a nearby table.
  "I think she'll be okay..." Rex says after a moment. "She just suffered a
  severe shock, probably a mental trauma."
  "Is... is that serious?" Jeff asks, worried.
  "Yes, but it's not as bad as it could be." He frowns. "I wonder...
  whatever made that barrier saved her life."
  "Well, that was Chansey, right?" Jeff asks, looking to Lizzie's guardian.
  But the pink and white pokemon shakes its head solemnly.
  "Jeff, that was Reflect." Rex states. "Chansey can't learn that skill.
  Whoever made that shield," He looks up to the shattered skylight. "Wasn't one
  of us..."

  Next Time:
  -Lizzie recovers in the Fuschia Hospital
  -Rex finally spills the story of how he met Lizzie
  -Jeff sends a special package to Mr. Fuji
  -Katrina pays a surprise visit; to Jeff !