Essence

Ash has always wanted to be a pokemon master. When the time comes for him to pick out his first pokemon, he shocks Professor Oak with a peculiar request. One thing leads to another, and he ends up with a loyal Growlithe. How will this unique situation affect the boy's destiny?

https://www.fanfiction.net/s/11113835/1/Essence

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31. Kanto 10 Part 1

"There they are," whispered Ash in a vengeful manner as he peaked around the corner of a thick, raspy hedge.

He couldn't help but scowl when he got a good look at them. Eating lunch, in the middle of a small clearing, were three rough looking men wearing familiar black jumpsuits. The moment Ash saw the red "R" on their chests, memories of the SS Anne and Saffron exploded within his mind.

It was them.

Team Rocket was responsible for beating up Skylar and stealing her eevee. Even before he had confirmed it, Ash had a feeling that it was them. At this point, he had been around Team Rocket enough to understand that this was the kind of thing that they were capable of. A heartless crime like injuring a little girl and stealing her pokemon had Team Rocket's name written all over it.

Holding a finger up to his lips, Ash turned around and beckoned Growlithe and Clefairy to stay quiet. The Rockets appeared to be in the middle of a conversation. Maybe, if he listened carefully, he could pick up some important information.

…It was worth a shot.

"Damn, this shit's good!" blurted the largest of the Rockets, digging into a juicy slab of meat. "Better thank the leader when we get back to base. Tauros' meat is the friggin' best."

"Psht, once the leader sees what we've got for him, he should be the one thanking us," snorted one of the other Rockets.

This one looked significantly younger than the others. If Ash had to guess, he would say that he was probably in his late teens.

"Shut the hell up, boy!" hissed the third and most rugged looking Rocket. "Petrel doesn't have to thank us for shit!"

Out of all three of them, he stood out the most. Judging by his craggy and weather-beaten face, Ash assumed that he was the oldest out of all of them. He had long, shaggy, brown hair that looked like it had never been combed, and his eyes were cold and devilish. Ash didn't know how, but he could tell that the man could kill at a moment's notice.

"Yeah," added the heavy Rocket as he used his sleeve to wipe his face, "he'd kill you if he knew you'd said that. Executive Petrel may seem chill, but he's a friggin' monster when you make him mad."

He paused as he gestured toward the coarsest of the three Rockets, "Ask Reggie. He's been a part of Petrel's division since way before Team Rocket went into hiding. He could tell you some real messed up stories about the leader, stuff that'll make the shit we did to that girl sound like child's play."

Ash clenched his fists in anger. He didn't like the way that the Rockets were talking so casually about what they had done to Skylar. He wanted to knock them all out then and there, but he knew that wouldn't be a good idea.

Right now, they were talking about a Team Rocket executive. If this Petrel was even half as dangerous as Ariana, Ash's decision to listen in on the grunts' conversation could become extremely beneficial to the League…

"Really!?" questioned the young Rocket with excitement in his voice. "Is he really that ruthless!?"

"Dammit, Fargus…" groaned the Rocket known as Reggie, "just because I told you thosestories, doesn't mean I have to share them with a brat as green as this little shit."

"Ahh, come on, Reg, what's the harm?" questioned the heavyset Rocket. "Like it or not, the kid's one of us."

"One of us, eh?" queried Reggie. "You sure about that?"

He paused as he gave the youngest Rocket a menacing glare, "He looks like a stupid, sadistic little twat to me. In my opinion, none of these new recruits have the brains to be real Rockets."

"Hey!" scoffed the teenager, clearly offended, "I may be sadistic, but I'm not stupid. Do you think Executive Petrel would have handpicked me to be a part of your squad if I was retarded?"

"What the hell are you bragging about?" asked Reggie with one eyebrow raised. "We're friggin' grunts: henchmen of the executives and fodder to the Boss. We do the dirty work while the higher-ups reap the benefits. Kid, you don't know a damn thing about this organization, do you?"

"Sure I do," retorted the teen. "I wouldn't have joined Team Rocket if I didn't know anything about them."

"Really…is that what you think?" laughed Reggie as he turned his attention back over to Fargus. "Did you here that, Fargus? The little bastard still thinks that he chose to be a part of Team Rocket. What a friggin' joke!"

Fargus let out a burst of laughter before he responded. "Give the kid a break, Reg. We all thought that at one point."

"What the hell are you guys talking about?" asked the young Rocket in a confused manner.

Ash had to admit, he was equally interested in hearing what the eldest Rocket had to say.

"Eh, you'll find out eventually," retorted Reggie with an agitated expression on his face. "This is a topic that I don't like talking about—never have, never will. However, I will enlighten you about something, you little twat…"

"What is it?"

"You're lucky that you ended up in Petrel's division," said Reggie as he took a bite out of the half eaten apple that he had been holding since Ash arrived at the scene. "As long as you don't do anything to cross Petrel, it's the best place for people like us to be. Out of all of the executives, Petrel gives his subordinates the most freedom. Sure, we get orders every once in a while, but most of the time, we're free to wreak havoc as we please."

He paused, "Petrel is nothing like that brainwashing bitch Ariana. He'll let you be an individual as long as you know your place. So, respect him, and you'll be fine. If you don't, I promise you that you'll end up dead. I don't know how he does it, but Petrel always weeds out the little punks that think they're hot shit."

Ash gulped as he listened to the Rocket talk about Petrel. At first, he didn't sound quite as bad as Ariana, but he had a really bad feeling about him. Ash was under the impression that Petrel was rather easy going when unprovoked, but if you got on his bad side, he would crush you without a hint of hesitation.

"I-I understand," stammered the teenager with apprehension in his voice. "I'll make sure to thank Petrel for hooking us up with this meal."

"There you go, Nico!" exclaimed Fargus as he patted him on the back. "I'm glad Reggie was able to talk some sense into you."

"Me too," retorted the young Rocket, known as Nico, as he wiped the nervous sweat from his forehead. "If I died, I wouldn't be able to kill people anymore. That would friggin' suck."

"You really are a twisted little shit, aren't you!?" blurted Reggie, in between laughter, as he pulled a shrunken pokeball out of one of his pockets. "Anyways, we should get going soon. It's about time we got back to the base. Like I said, Petrel doesn't give us orders often. So, when he does, they're always important. I don't know why he wants this eevee so bad, but we better not keep him waiting."

"Gotcha'," said Fargus, standing up from his spot, "I'm done."

"Alright," added Nico, "I'm ready, too."

"Good," retorted Reggie as he stood up and tossed his mostly eaten apple into a nearby bush, "let's go then!"

Ash wasn't surprised when they made no effort to clean up after themselves. Team Rocket was known for having zero regard for the environment. At the moment, it didn't bother him, though. Even if it did, he was already enraged about what they had done to Skylar. They would have to do something utterly atrocious in order to make him any angrier than he already was.

The moment that Ash had come across Skylar's beaten body, Reggie, Fargus and Nico's demise was set in stone. By the end of the day, they would be rotting away in a jail cell. Wherever their base was, they would never make it there. He would make sure of it.

Ash detached Pidgeotto's pokeball from his belt as he started to feel Haunter's presence surge to the surface of his shadow. Simultaneously, he pivoted his attention over to Growlithe and Clefairy, signaling to them that it was time to strike.

For a second, he thought about attempting to have Haunter and Clefairy take them all out at once with Hypnosis and Sing, but he decided against it. Chances were pretty high that they had at least rudimentary level mental barriers.

Moreover, Ash wanted them to get a good look at his face as he wiped the floor with them. He didn't just want to beat them, but he wanted to completely humiliate them. He wanted them to sit in a jail cell, knowing and understanding that they had been put away by a ten-year-old kid. If that put him at a higher risk then so be it. Right now, he didn't really care. The only thing that mattered to him was making them pay for what they did to Skylar.

"Now!" bellowed Ash as he darted out into the open, immediately grabbing the attention of the three Rockets.

He launched Pidgeotto's pokeball at the group of flustered criminals, causing them to shield their eyes from the sudden eruption of bright light.

"Shit!" screamed Nico as the light subsided and Pidgeotto emerged, flapping his wings with vigor.

The massive avian let out a frightening squawk, causing all three of the Rockets to falter backwards in fear.

"Release your pokemon!" yelled Reggie in a state of panic, trying to be heard over Pidgeotto's loud battle cry. "We're under attack!"

"Pidgeotto, Growlithe, Clefairy!" shouted Ash venomously, "take care of whatever pokemon they release! Haunter, use Mean Look on the Rockets! Make sure they can't escape!"

Ash watched as all three of the Rockets tossed out two pokeballs each. When the pokemon were released, he surveyed them carefully.

The young Rocket, Nico, released a raticate and a spearow. At first glance, both of them appeared to be rather unimpressive specimens. His friends wouldn't have a difficult time with either of them.

The overweight Rocket, Fargus, let out an ekans and a beedrill. Both of them looked like they could end up being problematic if they weren't taken care of immediately. Even though they weren't too intimidating, Ash didn't want to have to deal with the potential of them using status moves to weaken his friends, especially since they were outnumbered.

Last but not least, the roughest looking Rocket, Reggie, released a drowzee and a fearow. They were definitely the two most impressive Rocket pokemon. However, Ash wasn't too worried about them. The drowzee could be taken care of quickly by Haunter, and Pidgeotto would fly circles around the fearow. It was nothing compared to Austin's powerful bird of prey.

All of a sudden, Ash's attention was stolen away by Haunter who emerged from his shadow and emitted a ray of dark purple energy into the sky. It settled above them before expanding into what looked like a large sphere of purple gas. The gas then solidified, gradually sculpting itself into a solitary, closed eye.

If Ash hadn't been the one that had summoned it, he would be mortified. Once the eye had become complete, its purple eyelid snapped open, unveiling a dark purple pupil surrounded by a golden yellow iris and a pitch-black sclera. The eye looked at Ash for a split-second before rotating toward the Rockets and leering down at them.

Mean look was complete. The Rockets weren't going anywhere.

"Dammit!" blustered Fargus amidst the battle that was beginning to unfold. "That kid has a friggin' Haunter!"

"And it used Mean Look!" howled Reggie. "If we want to leave, we have to beat this little bastard! We don't have any other choice!"

"That shouldn't be a problem!" hissed Nico. "He's just a little kid! I'll kill him!"

A smirk crossed Ash's face as he registered the Rocket's threat. His pokemon weren't strong enough for Ash to take him seriously.

Ash's line of sight was drawn away from the Rockets when he felt a surge of heat emerge from his left. What he saw put a smile on his face. Growlithe had already barreled over Nico's raticate with Flame Wheel prior to finishing it off with a devastating Bite/Ember combination.

One down.

Over in the same direction, Clefairy was locked in a battle with Fargus' ekans. She was careful not to get hit by the snake pokemon's repetitive use of Poison Sting as she tried to get in close enough to use one of her physical attacks.

Ash watched as she used Minimize to avoid the purple snake's Bite before winding her fist back and unloading a powerful Pound attack. Once the ekans was knocked off balance, she followed up her Pound with a quick-hitting Double Slap. At this point, Ash pivoted his glance away from Clefairy, she had things under control. He would check on her again in a little bit.

Straight ahead, a one-sided aerial battle was taking place as Pidgeotto was using Agility to toy with Reggie's fearow. If Pidgeotto wanted to, he could end the battle at any moment. However, Ash could tell that he was enjoying himself too much to finish things in a hurry. He hadn't had very many opportunities to battle against other flying-types since leaving Saffron, so regardless of the fearow's mediocrity, Pidgeotto was taking full advantage of the moment.

Ash also noticed that the spearow that Nico had released was grounded and unconscious right below the battle between flying-types. If Ash were to take a guess, he would say that the spearow had tried to interfere in the evolved flying-types' battle, so Pidgeotto had quickly knocked it out while the ten-year-old boy was watching Growlithe and Clefairy.

Whatever the case may be, it didn't really matter to Ash. Both of Nico's pokemon had fallen.

Two down.

Over to his right, Haunter was taking on Fargus' beedrill and Reggie's drowzee at the same time. Despite the fact that he was outnumbered, Ash wasn't worried. Haunter was a stronger specimen than the drowzee, and he had the type-advantage, whereas the beedrill didn't appear to have any attacks that he would consider effective against a ghost-type.

Ash's eyes lit up when he watched Haunter phase out of the corporeal world for a split-second before reappearing directly in front of the drowzee. In concurrence with Haunter's reappearance, the psychic pokemon's typical weary eyes jolted with consternation right before Haunter used one of his fists to deliver a Sucker Punch straight into the drowzee's mug.

Ash winced as the drowzee let out a jarring cry while being sent flying across the clearing. It didn't take a genius to figure out that the psychic-type was done for. Ash's hypothesis was confirmed when Reggie's drowzee landed limp and lifeless over by where Growlithe had defeated the raticate. It was apparent that it had been knocked into comatose.

Three down.

In subsequence to the drowzee's defeat, Ash chimed back into the battle between Clefairy and the ekans. A small frown breached Ash's countenance when he noticed a couple of stingers from the ekans' Poison Sting protruding from Clefairy's side.

However, his expression quickly changed as he watched an array of sparkling energy erupt from Clefairy's body, tossing the snake pokemon into a nearby assemblage of shrubbery. The ekans lay battered and unconscious, falling prey to Clefairy's Stored Power.

Four down.

Now that Clefairy's battle with the ekans had subsided, Ash followed her with his eyes as she briskly skipped back over to him. At the same time, he noticed that Growlithe had already returned to his side. The puppy pokemon was watching attentively as Pidgeotto and Haunter engaged in combat against the remaining two Rocket pokemon.

"Dammit!" cursed Reggie, catching Ash's attention.

He surveyed the Rockets. It was obvious that all three of them were aware of their predicament. Nico was trembling with what looked like a combination of fear and fury, whereas Fargus and Reggie were angry and frustrated. They knew that their defeat was imminent. Ash could see it in their eyes.

"Where the hell did this kid come from!?" blustered Fargus. "He's destroying our pokemon!"

"I don't friggin' know!" hissed Reggie, boiling over with anger, "but if we don't do something soon, we're screwed!"

"Shit, shit, shit, shit, shit, shit!" screamed Nico as he pulled on his tattered hair with both of his hands. "What the hell are we going to do!? We're done for!"

Ash watched their expressions turn even uglier when he heard a nasty shrill coming from his right. The dark-haired boy shifted his line of sight over to where he had last seen Haunter. The apparition was currently letting out a discordant array of ghoulish laughter as he blasted the beedrill with a wave of ghostly energy, forcing it to the ground and sending it into a coma.

Five down.

"What the hell is that!?" bellowed Fargus.

The ten-year-old boy didn't have to think hard to figure out what the Rocket was afraid of. The moment he heard the sound of the wind howling unnaturally above him, he knew what was going on. Leave it to Pidgeotto to use Twin Tempest in a situation like this.

He shook his head and laughed as he looked down at Growlithe and Clefairy. "Someone's having a little too much fun, eh?"

Growlithe and Clefairy both nodded in an exasperated manner as they looked up at the two swirling, purple twisters.

Following Growlithe and Clefairy's lead, Ash shifted his glance toward the sky. Soaring overhead was Pidgeotto who was using his wings to conjure two average-sized tornados.

Ash had seen bigger, so at least his avian was showing a little bit of restraint, although he wouldn't be mad if he didn't. If any pokemon deserved to experience the full might of Pidgeotto's Twin Tempest, it was one of Team Rockets' debased specimens, albeit the pokemon belonging to Ariana's squad were way more corrupt.

Hovering above the ground, directly below Pidgeotto, was Reggie's fearow. Due to its present positioning, Ash wasn't able to see the look of fear in its eyes as it stared up at the two draconically infused cyclones. However, he didn't have a tough time picturing it in his head. He had witnessed enough pokemon tremble before Pidgeotto's Twin Tempest to easily visualize the fearow's mortified countenance.

"Throw it!" bellowed Ash.

Hearing Ash above the sound of the vicious, hissing winds, Pidgeotto thrusted both of his wings downward, releasing the two pillars of destruction.

"Fearow, get out of there!" yelled Reggie as the tempests began to gain momentum.

Ash sighed as the fearow flapped its wings at an expeditious rate, trying its hardest to get out of the way of Pidgeotto's attack. It didn't have a chance. Its demise was inevitable. A pokemon of its level wasn't strong enough to escape the vacuum-like air current that Twin Tempest produced. It would have to be somewhere close to Pidgeotto's level in order to be capable of something like that, and it definitely wasn't.

When the two Twisters collided with Fearow, Ash winced as he heard a momentary shriek. It lasted for a fraction of a second prior to being drowned out by the sound of the raging wind. After touching the ground, the attack stretched on for a couple of seconds before eventually coming to a stop.

Left in its wake was an unconscious fearow. It lay motionless on the ground with its wingspan sprawled out. The flying-type was encompassed by a surplus of feathers that must have been uprooted from its plumage when it was hit by the cyclones.

Ash felt a slight hint of guilt as he stared at the fearow's immobile body.

Even though it was a Rocket pokemon, it was still a pokemon, and there was no way that it had escaped Pidgeotto's Twin Tempest without taking a considerable amount of damage. Ash doubted that it had accumulated any permanent injuries, but he would still let the Celadon Police Department know that one of his pokemon had beaten it up pretty good. That way, it could get the treatment that it needed in order to make a full recovery.

Six down.

Ash listened to the three Rockets curse amongst themselves as he felt Haunter return to his shadow and watched Pidgeotto land on a patch of dirt next to the Rockets. It was obvious to Ash that Pidgeotto had landed in close proximity to the Rockets in order to intimidate them.

Judging by their trembling appearances, it had worked.

The avian had the king's nature after all. Standing in the presence of such an astonishing beast was overwhelming, especially when you saw what he was capable of in battle. If Ash was in their situation, he would be frightened as well.

...Luckily, he wasn't—

"Hey, kid…" muttered Reggie, catching Ash's attention. "What do you want from us?"

Ash noticed the rugged Rocket's eyes fidgeting like crazy as they anxiously shifted focus between Ash, Pidgeotto and Haunter's Mean Look. The other two Rockets stayed quiet, although Ash could tell that they were just as curious about Ash's motive as Reggie.

"I saw what you guys did to that girl," said Ash, lowering his brow. "I came after you to get her eevee back. She was pretty upset that you took it from her, and there's no way that I am going to let a bunch of scumbags like you get away with something like that."

"I knew we should have killed that little bitch!" hissed Nico, unable to control his animosity.

The other two Rockets ignored him as they wisely continued to focus their attention on Ash

"Ah, I see…" drawled Reggie in a contemplative manner as he reached in his pocket and pulled out a standard pokeball, "so this is what you're after."

"Yup," retorted Ash, nodding his head, "that's it."

An amused smile formed on his face as he witnessed all three of the Rockets jolt when Pidgeotto let out a loud, pressuring squawk. Even though the concept of interrogation didn't bode well with him, Ash had to admit, if he were ever in a position in which he absolutely had to get information, Pidgeotto would be the perfect pokemon to have at his side.

"H-how about this then…" stammered Reggie as his eyes darted back and forth between Ash and Pidgeotto, "if you let us go, I'll hand over the eevee—"

"But, Reg!" blurted Fargus. "That eevee is for Petr—"

"Shut it, Fargus!" interrupted Reggie. "We don't have a choice. You saw what that kid did to our pokemon. He's obviously not an ordinary trainer."

Fargus looked like he wanted to say something, but he kept his mouth shut, listening to Reggie.

"I don't really think you're in a position to decide what happens from here on out," inserted Ash adamantly. "I'll be taking the eevee, but I'll also be handing you guys over to the Celadon Police Department. After what you did to Skylar, I can't just let you go free. That wouldn't be right."

"You little shi—!" managed Reggie, taking a compulsive step forward before experiencing a protective outburst from Ash's pokemon.

The Rocket froze in a heartbeat, folding under the pressure of Growlithe's intimidating growl, Clefairy's defensive snarl, Pidgeotto's nefarious squawk and Haunter who had reemerged from Ash's shadow bearing blood-thirsty eyes.

"Kid, I don't think you get it," said Reggie as he tried his best to calm himself down. "I'm trying to do you a favor. "Have you ever heard of an organization called Team Rocket?"

Ash sighed; he could see where this was going.

"Um…yeah," answered the dark-haired boy with a hint of unrest in his voice, "everyone knows about Team Rocket. What's your point?"

"Well, just in case you haven't noticed," said Reggie as he pointed to the red 'R' on his chest, "we're a part of Team Rocket."

"I know…" uttered Ash, scratching the back of his head. "I recognized the black jumpsuits right away. After everything I've been through, grunts like you don't scare me."

All three of the Rockets looked at Ash with incredulous expressions.

"Kid, have you watched the friggin' news lately?!" retorted Reggie, raising his voice. "Haven't you heard about what we did to the SS Anne and Saffron!?"

"Well, I'd be lying if I said I've watched the news," answered Ash with a frown, "but I do know what happened. I was there…"

"You were…" started Reggie.

"There…" finished Fargus and Nico.

"I was," answered Ash as he adjusted his cap, "and I don't need you three pricks to remind me about what happened."

He paused as he furrowed his brow, "Anyways, if you're trying to scare me into changing my mind, it's not going to work. I know full well what Team Rocket is capable of, but I also know that your leaders won't bat an eye after losing a few grunts."

Reggie scowled as he listened to Ash's words before focusing his eyes back on the pokeball in his hand. "That might be true, but the same thing can't be said about what's in here. Stealing this eevee was a priority mission given to us by our leader. When he finds out that we failed to retain it, he's going to go after it again."

"That may be true," said Ash, "but it doesn't change the fact that it doesn't belong to you. That eevee is Skylar's, so I'm going to return it to her no matter what. At the moment, whatever happens after that is irrelevant to me. I'll worry about it later."

Reggie cursed under his breath as he processed Ash's words. "Shit…I hate righteous bastards like you."

Ash smirked.

"And I hate evil pricks like you."

He glanced down at Haunter. He'd had enough of this, "Haunter, use Hypnosis. Make sure that they don't wake up for a while."

All three of the Rockets took a couple of steps backward before being enveloped in a shroud of ghostly energy. At the same time, Ash noticed that the large, purple eye floating above them was also cloaked in the same shadowy energy. Apparently, a couple of steps was all that Haunter's Mean Look was willing to allow before triggering and stopping them in their tracks.

Subsequently, Haunter let out a burst of cacophonous laughter as he wriggled his fingers, emitting a cluster of bright purple energy. The hypnotic rays drifted across the clearing in the direction of the Rockets, causing their bodies to tremble with terror. Up until the very last second, Ash could see the look of fear in their eyes as the Hypnosis approached them.

When Hypnosis made contact, the Rockets went limp before falling heedlessly to the ground. Ash winced as he heard the thumping sound of their unconscious bodies hit the earth's surface.

"Well, I guess that's that," said Ash to his friends before walking over to Reggie's sleeping body and picking up the lone pokeball that lay next to him.

"It's time I got you back to your trainer," said Ash, directing his words toward the capture-device.

Using his xtransceiver, he called the number to the Celadon Police Department. There was no way that he would be able to get all three of the Rockets to Celadon without help. After all, he was still about a half day's walk from the city. They would need to send a psychic-type with Teleport in order to move all of them at once.

He had a feeling that they would be upset that he went after Team Rocket on his own, but they would get over it when they found out that he had recovered Skylar's eevee.

If he wouldn't have acted, her eevee would have been lost to Team Rocket.

"Ring…"

"Ring…"

"Ring…"

"Click."

XXX

"I'm not going to sit here and tell you that what you did wasn't helpful," said Officer Jenny as she leant back in her swivel chair, "but I have no problem saying that what you did was stupid. I remember specifically telling you when we picked up Ms. Worthington to leave the rest to us."

She paused as she let out a deep sigh, "I knew something was off when you didn't accept our offer to teleport you straight to the Pokemon Center."

Ash had to admit, when he made the call about Skylar, he hadn't expected the Chief Jenny of the Celadon Police Department to show up. Moreover, until just a few moments ago, he had no idea that Skylar was the daughter of some big-shot eevee breeder in Celadon.

Apparently, the police had been searching for Skylar for a couple of days before Ash found her. She was the youngest daughter of Ruphus Worthington: one of the richest men in all of Celadon. Ash had never heard of him before now, but according to Officer Jenny, his name was well-known throughout all of Kanto.

In addition to the fact that Skylar was the daughter of a famous breeder, Ash was also surprised to find out that she wasn't a legitimate pokemon trainer. Despite all of the trainer gear that he had found at her ruined campsite, she was just a girl that had ran away from home because her family was overprotective, and she wanted to see the world.

When she ran away, she took the only offspring of her family's two most impressive and acclaimed eevee with her, hoping that she could raise it to become her starter.

Ash figured that the moment Team Rocket found out that she had gone missing, they made her their target, strategically using the unusual circumstances as an opportunity to steal a rare pokemon with extraordinary genes…

"Maybe it was stupid," retorted Ash in a serious manner, "but if I hadn't done what I did, Team Rocket would have gotten away with that eevee. There's no way that I was going to sit back and let that happen."

"Do you honestly believe that?" questioned Jenny, folding her arms.

She shifted her line of sight over to Growlithe who sat loyally by his trainer's side before giving Ash a dirty look, "He's a fine looking pup, kid, but you're not the only person with a Growlithe. We would have tracked them down eventually."

"…Eventually would have been too late," replied Ash with a frown as he surveyed Officer Jenny's tidy desk.

It reminded him a lot of his favorite Officer Jenny's desk. Other than a chrome nameplate, the only other thing sitting on top of it was a framed photograph, consisting of the same family picture that he had seen resting on top of the other Jenny's desk.

The rest of her office was nearly identical to his favorite Jenny's as well. It was a lot bigger, probably due to the fact that she was stationed in a major city. However, there were minimal pieces of décor, and overall it had the same businesslike feel.

Ash had to admit, sitting across from Officer Jenny felt nostalgic. When they first started talking, he half expected her to tell him a heartfelt story about a squirtle that had been abandoned by his trainer, causing him to hate humans and take out his deeply suppressed anger on the citizens of the town that he had been deserted in…

"What do you mean?" asked Jenny as she rested her elbows on her desk.

"I listened in on a conversation they were having before I attacked them," said Ash as he reached down and softly ran his fingers through Growlithe's tuft. "They were about to take Skylar's eevee back to their base. Apparently, they were under strict orders to get it back to their leader as soon as possible."

Jenny's eyebrows raised as she appeared to be intrigued about something he had said.

"Did you happen to catch their leader's name?" queried Jenny, folding her hands.

"I did," said Ash with a smirk as he sat up in his chair, triggering an expression out of Jenny that portrayed that she was interested.

He paused as he quickly thought over how much he should share.

"How much do you know about Team Rocket's structure and ranks?" questioned Ash, taking control of the conversation.

Jenny's eyes widened. It was evident that she was shocked by Ash's question.

"Whoa, whoa, whoa," repeated Jenny in a serious manner. "This conversation just took a strange turn. Who the hell are you? And why do I get the feeling that you know more about Team Rocket than I do?"

"I'm not some secret League agent if that's what you're thinking," said Ash in between laughter. "I'm just a pokemon trainer that's had an extremely interesting first year."

Ash paused as Jenny breathed a large sigh of relief. He was under the impression that she had just had a moment of apprehension. She probably thought he was some sort of League inspector, checking to see if the Celadon Police Department was running smoothly.

"Anyways, how much do you know about Team Rocket?" asked Ash. "What has the League revealed to the Kanto Police?"

She sat back in her chair as she took a moment to think, "Why should I discuss Rocket related matters with a kid? If you're not a part of the League, how do you know so much?"

Ash shrugged. He didn't mind sharing a little bit about what he had been through over the past couple of months. Granted, he wouldn't tell Jenny that much, just enough to push the conversation in the direction that he wanted it to go.

"I was in Saffron when everything with Team Rocket went down," said Ash. "I learned a lot about them while I was there."

"Oh…" drawled Jenny with a frown, "I understand. I'm sorry to hear that. A kid your age should never be exposed to a catastrophe like that one."

"It is what it is," retorted Ash with a straight face.

There was a moment of silence as Jenny appeared to be deciding whether or not to trust him.

"To answer your question from earlier," said Jenny, electing to at least temporarily comply with Ash. "The Kanto Police learns more about Team Rocket every day. At the moment, I'm aware that the Boss and his/her executives are the members that we really need to worry about. There are a multitude of lesser ranks, but the League typically just refers to them as grunts."

"Sounds about right," answered Ash with a slight nod. "The reason why I asked you that was because I wanted you to understand exactly what kind of leader the group of Rockets that I dealt with was talking about."

"And...?"

"They called him Executive Petrel," spat Ash with a scowl. "According to one of the Rockets, he leads an entire division of grunts. I witnessed the strength of an executive while I was in Saffron. They're nothing like grunts. Their Pokemon are way more corrupt, and they are formidable enough to go toe-to-toe with most gym leaders' true teams."

The moment Ash said the name Petrel, Officer Jenny's countenance changed. It went from intrigued to appalled in the blink of an eye.

"P-petrel," stammered Jenny, "D-did you say Petrel?"

Ash nodded his head. It was apparent that Officer Jenny was familiar with the name.

"I knew something was weird about that guy," said Jenny, "but never in a million years would I have guessed that he was a Team Rocket executive."

"What are you talking about?" asked Ash in a curious manner. "How do you know him?"

"I've known Petrel for a while," replied Officer Jenny with a sour expression on her face. "He's been the manager over at the Game Corner for nearly five years. Ever since he took over, the place has been just as big of an attraction as the Department Store."

She paused as she placed her hand on her forehead, clearly frustrated, "However, since he's been here, the crime rate in Celadon has skyrocketed. For the longest time, I thought it was just a coincidence, but lately there's been some really strange activity throughout the city, especially within the Game Corner."

"Like what?" asked Ash as he leaned forward in his chair.

"All kinds of bizarre stuff," said Officer Jenny exasperatedly. "There's been rumors that League money has been laundered by the Game Corner. Petrel has been raffling off incredibly rare pokemon and items. The workers have become more aggressive. And, a lot of pokemon trainers have reported their pokemon having been stolen in the area."

She shook her head, "I've been trying to get a search warrant for months, but the League has yet to issue me one."

"Well, what do you have to do to get one?" asked Ash impatiently, "because there's a good chance that there is a Team Rocket hideout somewhere in the Game Corner. After listening to everything that you just told me, it makes perfect sense."

"Dammit," cursed Officer Jenny under her breath, "it does, doesn't it?"

She paused as she cleared her throat, "In order to get a search warrant, we would need a League Official with the authority of a Gym Leader or higher to give us approval to do an official investigation."

"That doesn't sound that difficult," said Ash. "Why don't you just ask for Erika's approval?"

She let out a sigh that oozed annoyance.

"Trust me, I've tried," groaned Officer Jenny, "but Erika thinks I'm just being paranoid. You see, the Game Corner's staggering success brings in a lot of revenue for the city. Much like the Celadon Department Store, the city relies a lot on the tourists that the Game Corner brings in. No matter how corrupt Petrel is, there's no denying that since he started running the Game Corner, we've seen a massive boost in our economy."

"Okay…" drawled Ash, "but what does all of that have to do with getting a search warrant."

"Well," replied Officer Jenny with a sigh, "our beloved gym leader thinks that searching the Game Corner would be stepping on Petrel's toes. And if we don't find anything, not only will it be embarrassing for Celadon as a whole, but it will tarnish her reputation."

She took a breath, "Also, she thinks that it could destroy the city's relationship with Petrel, which would make the issues in Celadon even worse. If you ask me, I'd say she's just being a coward, but it's not like what I think matters in this situation. I don't have the power to override a gym leader's jurisdiction."

"What about another gym leader?" queried Ash, "have you asked anyone else?"

"I've tried talking to a couple other gym leaders," retorted Jenny, "but I didn't have any luck. The Waterflower sisters in Cerulean didn't feel comfortable opposing Erika. Apparently, there's some bad blood between the Waterflower and Mori families."

She paused, "Koga, from Fuchsia, didn't feel like getting involved. Ever since he got destroyed by J.R. Tanner, and missed out on his opportunity to become a part of the Elite Four, Koga's been a real hard-ass. Apparently, it's gotten so bad that nobody's been able to get his badge all season. There's been rumors that he has gone as far as using everstones on his League registered team in order to cheat the system."

Ash gulped; he had been planning on going to Fuchsia after Celadon for a while now. However, if what Officer Jenny said was true, maybe he would have to rethink things. Koga was dangerous enough with a level head. Ash could only imagine what it was like battling him when he was vexed—

Ash shook himself free of his wandering thoughts. He could worry about Koga later. Right now, he was having an important conversation about Team Rocket.

"I've tried calling Blaine on Cinnabar Island multiple times," continued Jenny, "but nobody's answered. And don't even get me started with Giovanni from Viridian. That guy told me that if I ever ask him to belittle another gym leader's authority again, he would make sure that I was stripped of my badge. I swear, there's something wrong with that man. If the word prick had a picture next to it in the dictionary, it would be a portrait of his face."

Ash disregarded Jenny's rant, regarding all of the gym leaders that had chosen not to comply with her request, when an easy solution popped into his head.

"What about Sabrina?" asked Ash with a small smile on his face, "have you tried calling the Saffron Gym?"

"I thought about it," Officer Jenny retorted with a frown, "but I chose not to. I've heard rumors from legitimate sources that Sabrina doesn't deal with issues outside of her jurisdiction, so I figured it would be a waste of time. Besides, I feel like she has her hands full right now cleaning up the mess that Team Rocket made in Saffron."

"Fair enough…" drawled Ash, still smiling. "Under normal circumstances, I would completely agree with you. But, when Team Rocket kidnapped Robert Montgomery and attacked Saffron, they declared war on all of Kanto. Even Sabrina is able to see that. She'll issue us a search warrant, I promise."

"You sound pretty confident, kid," said Officer Jenny in a skeptical manner. "What makes you so sure?"

"Sabrina may be a bit odd," retorted Ash matter-of-factly, "but she's not the monster that everyone makes her out to be. I guarantee you that she'll help us out. We just have to ask nicely."

"I never said she was a monster," replied Officer Jenny. "What I said is that her priority is Saffron, and she doesn't have much interest in the rest of Kanto. Why are you so adamant about asking Sabrina, anyways? Do you know her or something?"

"I do," answered Ash with a smirk. "As a matter of fact, we're good friends."

"Friends…" muttered Officer Jenny, obviously surprised, "with Sabrina Marvil, really?"

Yeah," said Ash, facetiously, unsurprised by her response, "Believe it or not, I'm friends with Sabrina Marvil."

He paused for a second to let her soak it in.

"Anyways, even if Sabrina didn't feel like helping us for the sake of Celadon," said Ash as he scratched Growlithe behind the ears, "I have confidence that I could at least convince her to hook you up with a warrant."

Ash watched Jenny physically shake off the surprised look on her face before she responded.

"If that's the case," said Jenny, "go ahead and give her a call. I guess, we have nothing to lose."

"I will," answered Ash with a nod, "but before I do that, I want to go see Skylar at the Pokemon Center. If you don't mind, I'd like to deliver eevee's pokeball to her myself. I don't know why, but something is telling me that I should."

Officer Jenny hesitated for a second before reaching into her pocket and pulling out Eevee's standard pokeball.

"Typically, I wouldn't allow something like this," said Jenny as she let out a sigh and handed the pokeball over to Ash, "but I guess I can make an exception just this once. Even though it was stupid for you to go after Team Rocket by yourself, I can't deny the fact that you have helped us out quite a bit."

She paused for a second as her eyes glanced over at the black, analog clock on the wall, "Besides, those Rockets should be waking up from Hypnosis pretty soon. I'll let you take care of things at the Pokemon Center, and do whatever else there is that you need to do, while I go ask the Rockets some questions. How about you come back again tomorrow around the same time?"

"Are you sure?" queried Ash. "If the Pokemon Center's nearby, I shouldn't be too long. I could probably be back later today if you want."

"There's no need," said Jenny, dismissing Ash with the wave of her hand. "We're not in a rush. I highly doubt that Petrel will do anything drastic within the next twenty-four hours. Go deliver that eevee to Ms. Worthington. When you finish up at the Pokemon Center, go check out the city. Despite all of the crap that we just talked about, Celadon truly is a phenomenal city."

She flashed Ash an outstretched grin, "They don't call it 'The City of Rainbow Colors' for nothing."

Ash nodded before reciprocating her smile.

"You're right," said Ash as he shifted his attention toward Growlithe, who had been rather quiet ever since they entered Jenny's office. "Are you ready for a trip to the Pokemon Center, bud?"

Growlithe let out an affirmative yip as his countenance immediately brightened up.

Ash had a feeling that the reason for Growlithe's quietness was related to fatigue. He'd been busy during their trip to Celadon. Between the battle against the three grunts, Willow's test, his intensive training, and the grind of being on the road for nearly two weeks, it only made sense that he would be exhausted.

Just because the trip to Celadon had provided them with some much needed mental rest, didn't mean that it hadn't been physically exhausting.

"Alrighty then," said Ash as he stood up from his seat and placed the eevee's pokeball in his coat pocket, "I'll be on my way then."

"See you tomorrow, kid," answered Officer Jenny, standing up from her chair in order to shake Ash's hand. "Thanks again."

"Don't mention it," retorted Ash.

After shaking Jenny's hand and uttering another goodbye, Ash locked eyes with his pup.

"Come on, Growlithe. Let's go."

XXX

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